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Alternative & Indie - Released December 8, 2014 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 1974 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Rock Bottom, recorded with a star-studded cast of Canterbury musicians, has been deservedly acclaimed as one of the finest art rock albums. Several forces surrounding Wyatt's life helped shape its outcome. First, it was recorded after the former Soft Machine drummer and singer fell out of a five-story window and broke his spine. Legend had it that the album was a chronicle of his stay in the hospital. Wyatt dispels this notion in the liner notes of the 1997 Thirsty Ear reissue of the album, as well as the book Wrong Movements: A Robert Wyatt History. Much of the material was composed prior to his accident in anticipation of rehearsals of a new lineup of Matching Mole. The writing was completed in the hospital, where Wyatt realized that he would now need to sing more, since he could no longer be solely the drummer. Many of Rock Bottom's songs are very personal and introspective love songs, since he would soon marry Alfreda Benge. Benge suggested to Wyatt that his music was too cluttered and needed more open spaces. Therefore, Robert Wyatt not only ploughed new ground in songwriting territory, but he presented the songs differently, taking time to allow songs like "Sea Song" and "Alifib" to develop slowly. Previous attempts at love songs, like "O Caroline," while earnest and wistful, were very literal and lyrically clumsy. Rock Bottom was Robert Wyatt's most focused and relaxed album up to its time of release. In 1974, it won the French Grand Prix Charles Cros Record of the Year Award. It is also considered an essential record in any comprehensive collection of psychedelic or progressive rock. Concurrently released was the first of his two singles to reach the British Top 40, "I'm a Believer." © Jim Powers /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1998 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
The original issue of Dondestan, one of Robert Wyatt's later, signature recordings, ran over budget, prompting him to release the album without an authoritative final mix. Wyatt, unlike many of the artists of his era, has often been in the unenviable position of having the original unmixed tapes of his records either disappear or get erased. Dondestan was the lone exception and he took full advantage. Where the original recording was a seamless whole, full of spare, haunting, keyboard and percussive textures, Revisited showcases the collaborations with his wife, poet Alfreda Benge, his own songs, and a collaboration with former Soft Machine bandmate Hugh Hopper, as separate entities, standing on their own as songs, rather than as episodes in a drifting non-narrative of poetics ("Sight of the Wind"), communism ("C.P. Jeebies"), and abstract reflections on postmodern life ("N.I.O."). It's fitting that, even though the original order of the songs hasn't been changed, his and Benge's songs being placed squarely in the middle of the recording act as bridges to Wyatt's political notions. It humanizes the ideology, rather than the other way around. Also, on certain tracks, such as "Sight of the Wind" and "Worship," as well as "Lisp Service," Wyatt was able to bring the ambient textures that were all but inaudible on the original, into prominent hearing, changing, in effect, the timbre and flavor of these songs and others, making something already somewhat ethereal -- if very humorous in places -- into a work almost ghostly with its hovering presence. When this project was first announced, many of Wyatt's faithful were apprehensive, this writer included -- after all, why tamper with a masterpiece? There was no need for concern. The result made a great work of art a sublime one. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2003 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions Mercury Prize Selection
Robert Wyatt's first full-length of new material since 1997's Shleep is no less mischievous, witty, and poignant. As has become his custom, Wyatt offers a set of 16 new songs seemingly composed for a wide array of musicians including Annie Whitehead, Eno, David Gilmour, Tomo Hayakawa, Karen Mantler, Phil Manzanera, Paul Weller, and others he enlisted to record it. The album is divided into two halves. The first eight selections being 'neither here...' while the last eight are 'nor there...'. What divides the halves are in Wyatt's mind and aesthetics alone, as the disc feels like a seamless, unified whole. From the opener, "Just A Bit," a dastardly yet delightful bit of cynicism directed at organized religion and new age phoniness, the listener hears Wyatt in good humor with razor-sharp political sensibilities, and in fantastic musical form. The songs on Cuckooland are, in many ways, the most accessible he's written since Nothing Can Stop Us. Shleep had its moments in terms of this kind of "accessibility," but more often than not saturated itself in Wyatt's consummate and wonderfully listenable weirdness. Here, on cuts like "Old European," one of five collaborations with poet Alfreda Benge, Wyatt's wife, French salon music, smoky jazz from the cool jazz era, bossa rhythms, and Anglo melodies entwine in a bewitching nocturnal pop song. Others, such as "Beware," one of a pair of writing collaborations with Karen Mantler -- who contributed two more fine songs written for Wyatt'set -- feature the strident harmonics of post-millennial jazz as it intersects in dialogue with pop forms from the ancient to the future. Mantler's and Wyatt's voices sound lovely together in this tale of paranoia and woe, and Wyatt's trumpet solo is gorgeous. Wyatt's reading of Ms. Benge's "Lullaloop" is a gorgeous, wooly bit of swinging New Orleans jazz, shot through with Weller's bluesy, distorted, electric guitar solo and big, wondrous trombones by Whitehead. Wyatt covers, in his own fashion, the Boudleaux Bryant's classic "Raining In My Heart," accompanied only by his piano, and does a stellar, deeply emotional take of the Jobim & DeMoraes' classic "Insensataez." Wyatt's "Trickle Down"" is a knotty bit of loping post bop jazz interspersed with sax samples from "Old Europe," and killer double bass runs from Yaron Stavi. "Lullaby For Hamza," and the instrumental "La Anda Yalam" (the latter written by Nizar Zreik), portrayt two sides of the Gulf Wars, one dovetailing the other, bringing about with unnerving, poetically moving, and damning conviction, the side of these wars not often revealed to Westerners. These are tomes full of melodic and harmonic creativity, offered as deathly serious as words of elegance and grace, and become elegies sending the listener off with more to think about than a pop album would normally dictate. Wyatt has decorated his own booklet with lively, minimal artworks, and has annotated his songs to document certain facts, locations and occurrences, making the entire package indispensable. Most importantly, Wyatt has demonstrated once again that it makes no difference what else is going on in the pop world, he still creates a fiercely independent and wide open notion of song and composition that is always abundantly "musical," topically relevant, as well as entertaining, provocative, and completely, utterly engaging from top to bottom. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 5, 2004 | Domino Recording Co

The title of this 17-track Robert Wyatt compilation -- previously released only in Japan -- references his lack of commercial success while taking great care to showcase both his ambitious vision and diversity as an artist. Most of what is here is readily familiar to fans, from his fine if strangely arcane versions of "I'm a Believer" and "Shipbuilding" to the utterly, almost heartbreakingly beautiful "At Last I Am Free," "Arauco," and the starkly ingenious composition "Solar Flares" (previously a rarity). Early gems like "Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road" are showcased along with later ones like "Heaps of Sheeps." Ultimately, there is nothing really new here, but that shouldn't stop anyone who doesn't already have some version of this collection milling about from picking it up and putting it on a few dozen times in a row. It's guaranteed to change your perception of pop. Besides, the Ryko package -- which emulates the Japanese package perfectly -- is a stunner. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 17, 2008 | Domino Recording Co

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EPs

Alternative & Indie - Released February 9, 1999 | Domino Recording Co

Only Robert Wyatt could put together a project like this and not have punters sneering it down as a rake for cash. Issued by Ryko/Hannibal in 1999 and stateside by Thirsty Ear, EPs contains five short discs documenting various periods in Wyatt's long solo career. There are singles, odd B-sides, live cuts, alternate versions, and remixes. While it's true this could have come out as a tidier double disc, or had its tracks spread thin as bonus material over remastered reissues, Wyatt's far too sensitive to his fans to rake together something so haphazardly. So here with a detailed sessionography and Wyatt's own humorous liners are the tracks, presented in the order in which they were originally recorded and released. Disc one, Bits, features material from 1974, and contains an unreleased extended take of the single "I'm a Believer" -- with Fred Frith, Richard Sinclair, Nick Mason, and Dave MacRae accompanying -- and its flip, "Memories." Then there's the A-side cover of Chris Andrews' "Yesterday Man" along with an alternate of its backing track, "Sonia." This disc is topped off with a rather indulgent version of "Calyx," recorded live at Drury Lane in the same year -- and it reeks of proggish wankery. At least it's at the end of the disc. Pieces is the second platter here; it begins in 1982 with Wyatt's awesome cover of Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding" and contains both flips for the 12" version, Eubie Blake's "Memories of You" (which was also on the 7") and Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight." This disc is rounded out with a couple of compilation offerings: "Pigs...(In There)" from the Liberator: Artists for Animals set from 1988, and "Chairman Mao," once available on an ReR Quarterly edition. Disc three is comprised of the four-song Work in Progress, released by Rough Trade in 1984. The fourth disc is Wyatt's soundtrack for Victor Schonfield's 1982 The Animals Film, a harrowing documentary depicting humankind's horrific treatment of other members of the animal kingdom. Assembled of bits and pieces, it feels rather ragged, but is still essential for anyone who collects Wyatt's material. The final disc is a weird delight, containing four remixes of tunes from the artist's 1998 comeback album, Shleep. But these aren't just remixes doled out to a bedroom beat producer. They were done by Nigel Butler and Angie Dial from the unfinished masters as the album itself was being recorded. In sum, then, for the price, this is a gentle, untidy heap of Wyatt's odd 'n' sods, but given its packaging and designed order to be taken piecemeal one disc at a time, it's positively infectious. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 1985 | Domino Recording Co

Robert Wyatt has been quoted as declaring that this record was "a conscious attempt to make un-misusable music," i.e., music that couldn't be appropriated by the right or broadcast on Voice of America. VOA doesn't broadcast uncommercial music such as this in any case, but Wyatt did succeed in stating some of his political concerns -- imperialism, the carnage in East Timor, the flaws of rigid political ideology -- in an understated manner. He went back to writing his own material for this album, after having focused on eclectic "covers" in the early '80s, with fair success. It's perhaps an even moodier outing than usual for Wyatt, his melancholia amplified by the foggy, spooky keyboards. It was reissued on CD in 1990 as half of Compilation, which also includes the entirety of Nothing Can Stop Us. Somewhat confusingly, it was also reissued on CD as half of Mid-Eighties, an entirely different Gramavision release that adds eight tracks from assorted EPs, singles, and compilations of the time. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released October 5, 2007 | Domino Recording Co

More immediately accessible and warm than Cuckooland, more ambitious than Shleep, Comicopera, in three acts, is the end result of Robert Wyatt looking around and examining the craziness and wild unpredictability in real life in 2007. Knowing one man's opinion of things hardly matters, he brings together musicians from Israel, Spain, England, Norway, Cuba, Brazil, and Colombia in songs that originate with him, but also from these places and Italy. It's full of humor, horror, absurdity, shoulder-shrugging "what?"-styled confusion, exasperation, and even nostalgia, though his particular brand of that is with the eyes wide open. The sound of the record is what immediately separates it from its predecessors: it feels more like a recording made in a studio with a live band than one assembled in pieces. And indeed, in many cases, that's what happened. Old friends like Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, and Annie Whitehead are present, some not so old ones like Paul Weller and Karen Mantler, and other collaborators he has more recently encountered in Anja Garbarek, Orphy Robinson, Yaron Stavi, Mônica Vasconcelos, Gilad Atzmon, Chucho Merchán, Maurizio Camardi, and Alfonso Santimone, just to name a few, with songwriting contributions from his companion Alfie Benge, Garbarek, and Eno, among others. The first five tracks, under the heading "Lost in Noise," are centered on personal observations of love and loss, and at 62, Wyatt has seen his share of friends pass on and ends with a bomb going off. The middle section "The Here and Now," from cuts six through eleven, examine what it actually means to be English under these circumstances -- i.e. in a war -- and the third, "Away with the Fairies," in tracks 12-16, is where Wyatt's narrator, utterly fed up with the messiness, violence, conflict, and the real noise of life, completely abandons singing in the English language. The truth of the matter is it sounds far more "high concept" than it is. Wyatt claims that his method of working is that he just collects bits of things and puts them together. The songs in the first section are lovely, tender, bittersweet, airy, and melancholic. On "Stay Tuned," Wyatt sings as a narrator who is nothing more than particles of air: "In between/lost in noise/somewhere/somewhere..." as Garbarek's voice soars wordlessly above in between verses, as Eno's keyboards and effects, Seaming To's clarinet and harmony vocal, Whitehead's trombone, and Stavi's bass violin create a kind of chamber jazz around those words, hovering in the front. Letting the words assert themselves like a whisper in the ear or a voice in a dream, Vasconcelos takes the lead vocal as the accusing betrayed lover on the jazzy pop ballad "Just as You Are," and Wyatt takes on the mess, about trying to make excuses. The center is punctuated by Paul Weller's guitar, Wyatt playing hand percussion, and Stavi's bass violin creating the most taut sort of discomfort between the voices. England becomes a place where there is a beautiful day for walking about -- as Manzanera's guitar strolls along through "A Beautiful Peace" before Wyatt lets the cat out of the bag: "but not here," because a bomb has gone off and war has begun. Religion gets skewered too -- albeit with his characteristic subtle and dry wit despite the very real anger and emotion -- and the jazz just keeps coming. Wyatt's narrator switches places amid the finger popping subtle jazz and lilting rock tunes and he becomes the bomber (he makes no distinction as to which one is officially military or terrorist because all the man wants is peace, not bombs of any kind) as well as the bombed, who have either no idea what the hell is going on or who have done their own part to participate by their blind and numb assent. There is a hint of what's to come in part three with the instrumental "On the Town Square," with Wyatt on cornet, Del Bartle on electric guitar, and Gilad Atzmon's tenor saxophone, all playing around a killer rhythm by Robinson on steel pans. ("A Beautiful War" is a scathing indictment of the wars we watch on TV without wondering about the consequences of them.) His and Mantler's voices here are almost like nursery rhymes: "It's a beautiful day/For a daring raid/I can see my prey from afar/So I open the hatch/And drop the first batch/It's a shame I'll miss the blaze/But I'll see the film within Days/And I'll get to see the replay/Of my beautiful day..." On the next cut, "Out of the Blue," the aftermath of such actions becomes clear: he and Eno wrap their voices in something akin to true strangeness and horror: "For Reasons beyond all understanding/You've blown my house apart/You've set me free/To let you know/you've planted/everlasting hatred in my heart/You've planted your everlasting hatred in my heart." Jazz is a not so subtle subtext here, as a social force as well as an aesthetic one, and while these songs of Wyatt's and his collaborators may not be rooted in what Blue Note releases these days as acceptable, they are far more interesting. These tunes are also quite literally almost as accessible in their way as anything on the mighty Domino imprint (Franz Ferdinand's home) that this set has been issued on, even without screaming guitars and popping snare drums. In the third section, Wyatt's protagonist just goes off to find out what else is in the world, singing in Spanish and Italian. Poems by Lorca are set to music (and Wyatt plays a mean pocket trumpet as well as keyboards, and handles percussion). Abandonment of the conflict seems like the only proper thing for a world citizen to do. Here is where players like Robinson playing steel pan drums and vibes, subdued Latin and Caribbean rhythms, and jazz all get mixed up together in a seamless and quite lovely brew. (Check the instrumental by Robinson called "Pastafari.") The final cut may be a bit troubling in that it is a reading of Carlos Puebla's homage to Che Guevara, "Hasta Siempre Comandante." But it's nostalgic, not defiant; not blind assent, but a reverie, that if anything seems to wonder what happened to get from idealism to this place the protagonist finds himself in. And, if idealism is to come from anywhere, it must come from outside the English-speaking world. It's one of the hippest tracks here, played by a killer Italian band (with help from the voices of Wyatt, Mantler, and Vasconcelos), playing a wonderful meld of rhumba and jazz. Comicopera may not be all comic, and indeed inverts the entire comic opera notion of beginning with a catastrophe and ending with redemption, but Wyatt's never been so simple. What he has been, however, is close to brilliant, and this delightfully engaging little set will, if heard, more likely than not bring more people sniffing 'round his large body of work than anything he's done since the early '90s. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1982 | Domino Recording Co

This compilation of early-'80s singles includes some of Wyatt's finest work. Aside from "Born Again Cretin" (whose vocals recall the Beach Boys at their most experimental), all of it's non-original material that Wyatt makes his own with his sad, haunting vocals. You could hardly ask for a more diverse assortment of covers: Chic's "At Last I Am Free" (given an eerie treatment with especially mysterious, spacy keyboards), the a cappella gospel of "Stalin Wasn't Stallin'," political commentary with "Trade Union," the Billie Holiday standard "Strange Fruit," Ivor Cutler's "Grass," and a couple of songs in Spanish. The tracks have since been reissued a few times, with bonus tracks such as the "Shipbuilding" single; the best option for U.S. consumers is Compilation, which pairs Nothing Can Stop Us with Old Rottenhat. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2005 | Domino Recording Co

Recorded on September 8, 1974, this set features Robert Wyatt (post-accident) with a slew of mates, including Ivor Cutler! Introduced by John Peel and recorded by the BBC -- only a little over half the concert survives -- this is a wild, freewheeling document featuring Wyatt, Cutler, and Julie Tippetts on vocals; Dave Stewart and Tippetts on keyboards; alternate drummers Nick Mason and Laurie Allan; Hugh Hopper on bass; Fred Frith on guitar, violin, and viola; the late Mongezi Feza on trumpet; the late great Gary Windo on reeds; and guitarist Mike Oldfield. It's quite a lineup and an awesomely inspiring performance. Wyatt is in excellent form here, and the bandmembers, who are a bit ragged in places, are nonetheless tight and full of fire. From "Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening" and "Memories" to "Alfie," "Instant Pussy," "Mind of a Child," and "Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road," this set is alternately an early tribute recording to Wyatt and a fine get-together of friends from the Canterbury scene. Sonically, the recording is very present, though a bit overloaded in places, but the music more than compensates for this. All Wyatt fans will need this, as it is as close to an essential document of 1970s experimental/prog as one is likely to find. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Domino Recording Co

There was no way that Wyatt's follow-up to Rock Bottom could be as personal and searching, but this album that came barely a year later instead collects some earlier material to be revamped for this release. "Soup Song," for instance, is a rewrite of "Slow Walkin' Talk," written before the forming of Soft Machine. "Team Spirit," written with Phil Manzanera and Bill MacCormick of Quiet Sun, would turn up the same year as "Frontera" on Manzanera's Diamond Head. While some of the songs tend to plod along, the dirge-like "Five Black Notes and One White Notes," a lethargic cover of Offenbach's "Baccarole," Charlie Haden's "Song for Che," and Fred Frith's piano team-up with Wyatt on "Muddy Mouth" are magical. As usual, the assembled band, including the underrated Gary Windo on sax and Mongezi Feza on trumpet, never dissapoint. © Ted Mills /TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Domino Recording Co

There was no way that Wyatt's follow-up to Rock Bottom could be as personal and searching, but this album that came barely a year later instead collects some earlier material to be revamped for this release. "Soup Song," for instance, is a rewrite of "Slow Walkin' Talk," written before the forming of Soft Machine. "Team Spirit," written with Phil Manzanera and Bill MacCormick of Quiet Sun, would turn up the same year as "Frontera" on Manzanera's Diamond Head. While some of the songs tend to plod along, the dirge-like "Five Black Notes and One White Notes," a lethargic cover of Offenbach's "Baccarole," Charlie Haden's "Song for Che," and Fred Frith's piano team-up with Wyatt on "Muddy Mouth" are magical. As usual, the assembled band, including the underrated Gary Windo on sax and Mongezi Feza on trumpet, never dissapoint. © Ted Mills /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1971 | Sony Music UK

Of all the projects Robert Wyatt created apart from his tenure with Soft Machine and Matching Mole, The End of an Ear has to be the strangest, and among the most beautiful and misunderstood recordings of his career. Recorded near the end of his membership in Soft Machine, End of an Ear finds Wyatt experimenting far more with jazz and avant-garde material than in the jazz-rock-structured environment of his band. The Wyatt on The End of an Ear (a play on words for the end of the SM era, and another session called "Ear of the Beholder") is still very much the fiery drummer and percussionist who is interested in electronic effects and out jazz and not the composer and interpretive singer of his post-accident years. Influenced by Miles Davis' electric bands and the fledgling Weather Report who did their first gigs in the U.K., Wyatt opens and closes the album with two readings of Gil Evans' "Las Vegas Tango, Pt. 1." These are the most structured pieces on the recording, and the only ones not dedicated in some way: "To Mark Everywhere," "To Caravan and Brother Jim," "To Nick Everyone," "To the Old World (Thank You for the Use of Your Body, Goodbye)," "To Carla, Marsha, and Caroline (For Making Everything Beautifuller)," and others. The titles reveal how personal the nature of these sound experiments can be. Wyatt, because of his association with many in the Canterbury scene, not the least of which is SM mate Elton Dean who prominently appears here, was learning alternate structures and syntax for harmony, as well as the myriad ways rhythm could play counterpoint to them in their own language. The interplay between Wyatt, bassist Neville Whitehead, cornet player Marc Charig, and alto man Dean on "To Nick Everyone" is astonishing. Wyatt creates time from the horn lines and then alters it according to Whitehead's counterpoint both to the formal line and the improvisations. Toward the end of the track, Wyatt's piano is dubbed in and he reveals just how expansive he views this new harmonic approach. The piano becomes a percussion instrument purely, a timekeeper in accordance with the bass, and the drums become counterpoint -- in quadruple time -- to everyone else in the band. When David Sinclair's organ enters the fray and another piano courtesy of Mark Ellidge, as well as assorted percussion by Cyril Ayers, the entire thing becomes a strange kind of rondo in free jazz syntax. Elsewhere, on "To Caravan and Brother Jim," a 2/4 time signature opens the track and the organ plays almost a lounge-jazz-type line with drums rumbling in the back of the mix, almost an afterthought, and Ellidge's piano stumbling in with dissonant trills and riffs until he creates a microtonal line against the organ's now carnival chords until certain drums fall out, then back in, and the piano plays an augmented chord solidly in glissandi until the piece just sort of falls apart and ends. If you are Robert Wyatt, this is the way you find something new, you "play" at it. And that's what is so beautiful about The End of an Ear -- the entire record, unlike the "seriousness" of Soft Machine Third, is that this is being played with tonalities, harmony, language, and utterance that are all up for grabs in an investigation of freedom both in "music" and "sound." The End of an Ear is the warm and humorous melding of free jazz amplification and musicians' playtime. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 8, 2013 | Floating World

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Pop - Released January 1, 1971 | Columbia

Of all the projects Robert Wyatt created apart from his tenure with Soft Machine and Matching Mole, The End of an Ear has to be the strangest, and among the most beautiful and misunderstood recordings of his career. Recorded near the end of his membership in Soft Machine, End of an Ear finds Wyatt experimenting far more with jazz and avant-garde material than in the jazz-rock-structured environment of his band. The Wyatt on The End of an Ear (a play on words for the end of the SM era, and another session called "Ear of the Beholder") is still very much the fiery drummer and percussionist who is interested in electronic effects and out jazz and not the composer and interpretive singer of his post-accident years. Influenced by Miles Davis' electric bands and the fledgling Weather Report who did their first gigs in the U.K., Wyatt opens and closes the album with two readings of Gil Evans' "Las Vegas Tango, Pt. 1." These are the most structured pieces on the recording, and the only ones not dedicated in some way: "To Mark Everywhere," "To Caravan and Brother Jim," "To Nick Everyone," "To the Old World (Thank You for the Use of Your Body, Goodbye)," "To Carla, Marsha, and Caroline (For Making Everything Beautifuller)," and others. The titles reveal how personal the nature of these sound experiments can be. Wyatt, because of his association with many in the Canterbury scene, not the least of which is SM mate Elton Dean who prominently appears here, was learning alternate structures and syntax for harmony, as well as the myriad ways rhythm could play counterpoint to them in their own language. The interplay between Wyatt, bassist Neville Whitehead, cornet player Marc Charig, and alto man Dean on "To Nick Everyone" is astonishing. Wyatt creates time from the horn lines and then alters it according to Whitehead's counterpoint both to the formal line and the improvisations. Toward the end of the track, Wyatt's piano is dubbed in and he reveals just how expansive he views this new harmonic approach. The piano becomes a percussion instrument purely, a timekeeper in accordance with the bass, and the drums become counterpoint -- in quadruple time -- to everyone else in the band. When David Sinclair's organ enters the fray and another piano courtesy of Mark Ellidge, as well as assorted percussion by Cyril Ayers, the entire thing becomes a strange kind of rondo in free jazz syntax. Elsewhere, on "To Caravan and Brother Jim," a 2/4 time signature opens the track and the organ plays almost a lounge-jazz-type line with drums rumbling in the back of the mix, almost an afterthought, and Ellidge's piano stumbling in with dissonant trills and riffs until he creates a microtonal line against the organ's now carnival chords until certain drums fall out, then back in, and the piano plays an augmented chord solidly in glissandi until the piece just sort of falls apart and ends. If you are Robert Wyatt, this is the way you find something new, you "play" at it. And that's what is so beautiful about The End of an Ear -- the entire record, unlike the "seriousness" of Soft Machine Third, is that this is being played with tonalities, harmony, language, and utterance that are all up for grabs in an investigation of freedom both in "music" and "sound." The End of an Ear is the warm and humorous melding of free jazz amplification and musicians' playtime. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 24, 2005 | Tiptoe

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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | Cuneiform Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Cuneiform Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 20, 2008 | Domino Recording Co