After many years in a successful solo career, Robert Wyatt decided to create an album that was received as a comeback album, right after an extended period of insomnia. Hence the title name of the album. Given how amazing and beautiful his Rock Bottom album was, hopefully, this should match that, at least to some musical extent. This put aside an otherwise mish-mash career between this and Rock Bottom and helped re-establish his musical career status. Let’s take a good listen to this album and hear if it matches the hype.
Heaps Of Sheeps begins with some weird instrumentation and sounds rather groovy, surreal and psychedelic. This is definitely different territory from Rock Bottom, and it sounds very euphoric and wacky. Soon enough, Robert Wyatt sings in a gorgeous high falsetto that illuminates the great music at hand. Which it is. This is a very wacky and imaginative piece of music that sounds like a true dreamscape, and it is definitely worth hearing. Some nice vocal harmonies and trippy sounds are present in this song, as though the 1960s hadn’t really ended at all. A really soothing and calm listen, this music is decent and catchy. A great sort of song with some pretty multitracked vocals, this is a winner. If Syd Barrett were alive today, he may have been a fan of the music here. An excellent and very listenable piece of music, this sounds incredibly decent. A catchy and unique tune, just like an artistic painting. Great effort by the much older Robert Wyatt. It segues into the next song.
The Duchess begins with dramatic piano, atonal saxophone parts and some interesting percussion. This is a really out-there listen as melodies flutter in and out of audibility. Not totally different to some forms of weird Jazz music in its sounds, there are some noisy violins and some references to the fact of the duchess having: “Her secrets safe with me”. This is something that one can listen to which is surreal, psychedelic and imaginative. The sounds here are beyond weird, but the music is excellent and very high-class. Some awesome liquid sounding percussion is here, and Robert Wyatt sings obviously about his wife, the said duchess. Very very odd, but the music matches the artistic intent of this album. Excellent and brilliant listening, but beyond weird. It ends with some gorgeous Classical style piano, before launching into the next tune on this album.
Maryan begins with some loose maracas, acoustic guitar and horns. This is not a million miles away from the music that Miles Davis made, in fact. It is highly artistic in purpose. A brilliant piece, quite like a psychedelic Sketches Of Spain. Robert Wyatt has some brilliant musicality about him. Multitracked and delicious vocals enter, which sound really cool and impressive, with differences in pitch and tonality. This has some dramatic and interesting string sections that make a decent impression on the listener as well. A bit of an oddity in the history of music, but this sort of thing is great to hear lying in a bed with one’s eyes closed. A really cool and great listen, all the same, this is highly imaginative. This is somewhat like artistic Classical Music for those who like to trip out on LSD. The playing and performances present here are really top, and this tune is ecstatic and enjoyable. A really great and decent tune, it reaches a gorgeous climax in the second half with beautiful harmonies and some really great musicianship. There is some subtle guitar present, amongst violins and the other out-of-this-world musical sounds. Seriously cool, and well worth hearing. This ends with some nice piano and fades out well.
Was A Friend features collaborator Brian Eno and begins with an excerpt of a different musical piece with female singing, before this tune gets going with some hi-hats galore, piano and double bass, along with some good singing from Robert Wyatt. This sounds fairly Jazzy, and it is very much like the material on Rock Bottom. Still, this is enjoyable and welcome for the part. A good tune that shows a more experimental side with a dark keyboard sound being played, but the music here isn’t as good as earlier songs. Still, this isn’t necessary to skip. It does the job regardless. An interesting tune that possibly could have been shortened a bit in retrospect. The hi-hats and swirling sound do make a good impression all the same. Some additional horns in the background are here, and this is very much like Sketches Of Spain, yet again. An interesting and different tune that does drag on a bit, but still works. Nice effort, this is quirk central. Towards the end are some fluttering piano and atonal horns that finish up this tune. There are several seconds of silence to finish this off with.
Free Will And Testament begins with more falsetto vocals, brushed percussion and some simple bass playing. Again, this music does well. It has some delicious guitar and lyrics such as, “What sort of spider understands arachnophobia?” Soon enough, some pretty acoustic guitar and slide guitar playing enter, and this piece sounds really decent and excellent. A cool tune to hear, this is dramatic and worthwhile. Some people may find this a little too simple and weird, but to be fair, that is missing the point. This is a good and consistent piece of music that is surreal and pretty beyond all descriptions. A really cool tune that sounds impressive, this is an excellent composition with multitracked harmonies, wacky lyrics and a good Rock music backing that David Gilmour would approve of. Nice to hear, it concludes with harmonies and an odd fade out. Nice work.
September The Ninth is a very important date in the calendar, especially if you believe in astrology/numerology. A slow, electronic intro enters, along with horns that are nicely multitracked. This is like Pink Floyd territory but much more drug-influenced per se. Some nice piano enters, along with some excellent percussion to boot. This is a pleasant listening experience, and it changes into something quite glorious. A really cool piece of instrumental music, this is very pretty and lively. The piece progresses well, although to be fair, it sounds a little dreary melodically. That can be easily ignored, the music here is very good otherwise. A space trip without taking a rocket with Elon Musk, the music is very strange to listen to here. An interesting tune nonetheless, the music is very experimental and unusual. A good piece of artistry that demands ears. Eventually, Robert Wyatt gets singing very well here, and it oddly matches the weird-as-heck music. Nonetheless, this is not as good as some of the tunes on Rock Bottom, but it still sounds quite good for what it is anyway. Interesting listening, at least, although this is very weird music to hear. A cool tune through and through, this gradually fades out with vocal harmonies being prominent, before finishing gently.
Alien begins with delayed vocals and some good piano. Yet again, this isn’t the best music on this album at this point. It honestly doesn’t appeal that much, although Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 may approve of this. A strange tune with excellent musical instruments in it, the track here sounds very good after a while from the intro, which is a welcome change. The music present here is great for what it is, and it sounds fairly smooth. Some guitar soloing enters, which sounds a lot like Slash, but is not mixed to the fore of the track. A decent, good and groovy tune, this one required some patience as it is a lengthy listen as it is nearly seven minutes long. The bassline keeps this tune going very nicely as well, and the music present is worth it, although it is fairly repetitive. If you need something very arty, this should be one of your go-to points musically. An extremely cool piece with a few flaws, it still makes an impression to this day on people who have never heard of Robert Wyatt before. A refreshing effort, the outro stops the drumming and has some interesting and layered electronic textures to the end. Nice effort by a musician who truly understands music as an art form.
Out Of Season begins with piano, horns and weird harmonies. Again, this is very unconventional music. The horn parts again are reminiscent of Miles Davis. This is a weird but acceptable two-and-a-half-minute-long piece that is a quirky addition to this album. If you need a short, sharp dose of Robert Wyatt, then this is a good bet. A piano is present in the second half, which sounds very sharp. Worth hearing all the same, however. The horns are extremely prominent, even as the song fades out.
A Sunday In Madrid begins with a slow fade-in with harmonies and piano. Some double bass is present as well. A quirky keyboard is present, too. Singing here is much more conventional and understandable than before. The sounds present are fairly conventional, but still, this is a strange musical setting. Some excellent sounds abound in this tune, and Robert Wyatt presents himself as A Grade musical weirdo, but his music works when it does. This would likely be best to listen to under the influence of something good drug wise, but even hearing it sober is also good regardless. Detailing a said exploration in a dystopian place, this is very out there sonically, musically and artistically. Again, imperfect but a good effort regardless. A piano solo is present at the end of this tune before this ends with a distant sounding conclusion. Not the greatest here, but listenable anyway.
Blues In Bob Minor is obviously a homage to the main man of Folk music, Bob Dylan. There are some interesting sounds, such as piano and other instrumentation here, before launching into a wacky rewrite of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. A good yet weird tune, there is some prominent electric guitar here as well. Robert Wyatt obviously is a very surprising musician. Some nice shuffling and rolling drum playing are present, just before Robert Wyatt sings about a twisted tale of life. By this point, it is clear that this is a very good album, but not as good as Rock Bottom was back in 1974. Some EVH styled tone guitars are here, without the shredding or tapping on it. A really weird listening experience, the music present is very, very good. A strange take on a traditional classic tune from a completely different genre, Robert Wyatt’s unconventional music wins some respect here. The section towards the end has some nice multitracked acoustic and electric guitars to finish. Excellent work, this concludes with a bunch of hi-hats being hit.
The Whole Point Of No Return is the last track here. It has some deep harmonies, horns, piano and a strange musical environment here. It sounds almost like a Buddhist chant and is incredibly weird. A nice one-and-a-half-minute piece to conclude a largely impressive album. Good work and the harmonies at the end are cool. Nice one.
This album is not quite as good as Rock Bottom which was delivered three decades earlier. Having said that, this is a highly enjoyable album with some great musicianship and imagination about it. Still, some moments aren’t entirely pleasant to listen to on this album. Is it worth a listen? Yes but only if you like really weird music. Robert Wyatt did not match the effort of this album in terms of the quality of the music afterwards, but be grateful. Communists can make good music after all, outside of a political space. The album cover itself is beautiful as well, painted specifically for the album by Robert Wyatt’s wife.
Very, very good.