CD: Robert Wyatt, Cuckooland


A new Robert Wyatt album is cause for celebration. He has had an enormous (and mostly positive) influence on the most influential people in music - yet his recordings have an unfinished air, an artlessness or shyness that the unprepared listener may find disconcerting.

Cuckooland is typical: gloopy keyboards and flabby beats sit happily alongside superb musicianship and spine-tingling moments of charm and calm, while Wyatt's frail voice and tiny trumpet float aloft.

But Cuckooland is also full of tunes and feelgood riffs: it's an album that grows on its listeners. There is nothing wispy about the lyrics, many of which were written by Wyatt's partner, Alfreda Benge. Lullaby for Hamza was prompted by a Guardian article about an Iraqi woman and her son, while Forest refers to a Nazi extermination camp and Foreign Accents name-checks Mordechai Vanunu and Mohammad Mossadegh.

Joined by loyal chums such as Annie Whitehead, Gilad Atzmon, David Gilmour and Phil Manzanera, Wyatt maps out an alternative pop universe, as British as a cup of China tea.


John L Walters

The GuardianTramp

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