Let’s quit our comfort zone
Robert Wyatt was the drummer of Soft Machine. He one evening fell from a window and therefore became paralyzed; he uses a wheelchair since. Pink Floyd performed two benefit concerts, and their drummer, Nick Mason, produced the album Wyatt wrote in his hospital bed “in a trance” : Rock Bottom.
This album will make you uncomfortable. English prog-rock with avant-garde or modern-jazz seeds : It’s an enigma, a nightmare, a diamond. For some critics, it’s the best album of all times.
Sea Song is one of the most beautiful love song (the other one, for me, is Beach Boys’ God only knows). Imagine a wobbling harrowing Elton John piano slow track invaded with strange stars, bottomed with silver sounds in snakes and gorgeous harmonies. The lyrics are weirdly adorable. The piano break is risky, broken and drunk. The end is an almost ridiculous but touching incantations with sirens…
You look different every time you come
From the foam-crested brine
Your skin shining softly in the moonlight
Partly fish, partly porpoise, partly baby sperm whale
Am I yours? Are you mine to play with?
Joking apart – when you’re drunk you’re terrific when you’re drunk
I like you mostly late at night you’re quite alright
But I can’t understand the different you in the morning
When it’s time to play at being human for a while please smile!
You’ll be different in the spring, I know
You’re a seasonal beast like the starfish that drift in with the tide with the tide
So until your blood runs to meet the next full moon
Your madness fits in nicely with my own with my own
Your lunacy fits neatly with my own, my very own
We’re not alone
This always lets me brokenhearted, who knows why? It’s been written by a man in love, broken in his soul (hemiplegic drummer, you imagine??) : “I was just relieved that I could do something from a wheelchair”. I’ve rarely seen someone so… opened, in a song. It’s constantly two faced : beautiful but ridiculous, easy slow but with a frightening piano break, incantatory but childish, wobbling, a bit crazy, and strong. Brokenhearted, for sure.
It’s interesting to peel. Listen to the “normal form” of the slow in the beginning – the piano, the modulation (on “But I can’t understand”). The bass is interesting. The drum has been evacuated, the pulse coming from a tiny, fragile, minuscule repeated “POC” – as if this man was saying us : “See, I’m not a drummer anymore, but I can POC”. Awweee!
Symptom : this kind of song can be absolutely destroyed or badly sung live, or by other people. The essence of it will not and can not be touched.
“My funeral song”
“Possibly one of the most amazing albums ever recorded, and a psychedelic gem beyond time.”
“One of the top albums of all time. A true art expression.”
“what makes this legendary is the overall feeling it gives you. The “breathing” present throughout the tracks, the weird time-warped feeling you get at the middle of Red Riding Hood, Wyatt’s singing on the Sea Song, they all contribute to creating one of the best atmospheres. Along with some pretty neat tracks, make up for one of the greatest masterpieces to come from modern music.”
(26 pages of that here : http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/robert_wyatt/rock_bottom/ )
Then try this (it’s the 3rd track or Rock Bottom), LOUD :