As one of the founding members of the legendary Soft Machine band (who are credited as a seminal force behind the creation of the Canterbury Scene in the UK), Robert Wyatt is acknowledged as an integral figure in the progressive rock/jazz scene. His work with Soft Machine, Wilde Flowers and Matching Mole, along with his solo material, have etched an immortal position for him in the history of progressive music.
The material on the "68" release are considered by many to be the Holy Grail of Progrock. Half of these tracks have never been previously heard, while the other half formed the template for classic songs later recorded by Soft Machine. Discovered on lost acetates, this music has been painstakingly rescued and restored and presented on the "68" release for the first time.
ROBERT WYATT Ô68 (CD on Cuneiform Records)
This release from 2013 features 47 minutes of classic progrock music.
This material was recorded by Wyatt during the Soft MachineÕs US tour in 1968 during which the band opened for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. All of the instruments (piano, organ, drums, bass, and vocals) were played by Wyatt, with the exception of bass on one track, which was played by Jimi Hendrix.
The first song (a short one) dwells in a zone of droney organ and classic-rock style drums, embellished by WyattÕs idiosyncratic vocals. The organ pursues some very traditional chord sustains punctuated by choppy diversions.
In the second piece (a long one), the piano explores a more grandiose persona and the percussion adopts a quirky erratic nature between traditional jaunts. Meanwhile, WyattÕs recitation of the alphabet grows progressively warped and loopish through emphasized reiteration. After which, he commences more conventional crooning, wandering after a bit into foreign languages. All the while, the drums craft an assortment of ever-changing rhythms, and the keyboards maintain multitracked melodic threads. A piano turns jittery and slides into the lead, while another piano explores a complex diversion in the background. The keyboards and the percussion turn chaotic for a bit before the sashaying conclusion in which Wyatt recounts what the instruments have been doing.
The next track (a short one) is a little pop song, including instances in which the keys lay out clever hooks while the drums provide steady rhythms.
The final piece is another long one, specifically a very primal version of "Moon in June." This time the piano modernizes ragtime while the organ establishes an agile dronish counter-melody. Insightful lyrics break into passages of isolated words and eventually vocal warblings of the sort that have become WyattÕs signature styling. The percussion seems to exist primarily to support the lilting vocals. A sudden burst of crackling bass heralds the keyboards and drums launching into a powerful jam that builds to an exhausting pinnacle, accompanied by vocal punctuations of a non-verbal nature. The finale consists of all the elements rising to prominence in a mellow manner.
A real crowd-pleaser for longtime fans.
The CD includes a 16 page booklet with pictures and an intimate interview with Wyatt concerning this materialÕs history.
A limited edition vinyl LP version of this release is also available from Cuneiform Records.
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