ROBERT WYATT – ’68

Cuneiform

Robert Wyatt: vocals, bass, drums, Hammond organ, percussion, piano, electric piano; Jimi Hendrix: bass; Hugh Hopper; bass

Caveat: I am not a bona fide Wyatt partisan / neurotic collector but regard the man tremendously, always feeling sincerely stirred when listening to “Calyx” (or, even better, “Muddy Mouth”). Thus I had to scrutinize the promotional sheets very carefully this time, in order to situate what was heard in a befitting historical context (translation: the “Hendrix connection”, useless to restate given that the web offers plentitudes of materials to study).

So, what to do of the four tracks of ’68? The answer lies in the priorly employed adjective, “historical”. A first-class cleaning up job of noises deriving from antediluvian acetates gives us back music that not only predates the same artist’s highly individual contributions to Soft Machine (also embryonically hinting to what will be offered several years later inside memorable solo albums, perhaps in a somewhat “easier” dressing), but in itself constitutes the access to a lysergic macrocosm full of humourous remarks, syllabled rhythms, marvelous vocal superimpositions and modest uncertainty (especially in “Chelsa”, where Wyatt’s sweet out-of-tuneness is best highlighted). After a while one finds him/herself mentally straying – in a positive acceptation – and doesn’t bother to “follow” the compositional fluctuation anymore. You’re alone with him, he surrounds you with those magically vacillating notes (not to mention an already manifest poly-instrumental imaginativeness) and that’s more than enough to raise the spirits of anyone willing to forget about the “oh-so-perfect” facets of making art.

In a nutshell, this is a prototypical archival document, transmitting the essence of a genuine creative act as it’s being conceived. Its direct communicativeness and naive beauty are utterly refreshing. And of course it is fully authorized by its engenderer. Now excuse me while I go back spinning that great half-baked version of “Moon In June”…

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