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Rolling Stone FEBRUARY 2008 - by Sebastian Danta
ROBERT WYATT: COMICOPERA
Experimental elder provides an antidote to empty pop
Robert Wyatt made his name in '60s prog-jazz outfit Soft Machine, and now he's hit the sixties himself, he's proving to be a Johnny Cash-like late bloomer. Comicopera is a beautifully humane album in three acts that could only come from a music elder, past such petty concerns as what's marketable. Think Leonard Cohen playing experimental jazz with lyrics by Allen Ginsberg... plus a hint of Spike Milligan. Act one, "Lost In Noise", is a collection of domestic/love songs, with standouts Stay Tuned and the Velvet Underground-esque duet Just As You Are. Then comes a poetic take on world politics, "The Here And The Now", with lyrical gems like "I really envy Christians / I envy Muslims too / It must be great to be so sure / As a top Hindu or Jew" (Be Serious!) and a powerful pair of songs - from the perspective of a bomber (A Beautiful War) and the bombed (Out Of The Blue). The latter ends with the repeated refrain, "You've planted your everlasting hatred in my heart", leading nicely into act three, "Away With The Fairies", which sees Wyatt turn his back on Anglo-American culture and sing in Italian and Spanish. With collaborators like Brian Eno and Paul Weller tempering Wyatt's free-jazz tendencies, Comicopera is an accessible, poignant album - a panacea to image-conscious, vapid pop.
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