Robert Wyatt | REWIGLP43X | Released: 23/10/11
Wyatt’s first LP in ten years arrived in the mid-80s and was unsurprisingly poignant in its analysis of the self-regarding destruction meted out by Thatcherism: “There’s people doing ‘frightfully well” there’s others on the shelf but never mind the second kind this is the age of self”
Robert’s political views and revolutionary stance influenced Old Rottenhat which was first released in 1985. The album is dedicated to Michael Bettany who was jailed as a traitor and the overriding themes of the album are of repression of the working classes, alienation, snobbery and individual liberty. Robert even made a conscious effort to produce "un-misusable music" – music where any possible political ambiguity was removed so that it would have to be rejected by anyone promoting corrupt Western culture. That such a beautiful album could result from such stark, uncompromising ideals is a testament to Robert’s unique musical vision and talent.
Despite the desolate and sombre nature of the subject matter of its songs Old Rottenhat has a steely sparkle at its heart. Played almost entirely by Wyatt himself, the record captures the sound of an artist in self-imposed exile brimming with melodic purpose. Often setting his voice with echo against languorous synth drones, the record confirms Wyatt has a DNA that can’t help but achieve a sense of depth, grace and beauty. Overtly minimal, and in its use of refrain and lyrical simplicity, highly poetic, Old Rottenhat contrasts its very real sense of disappointment with the way things are with a determination to wonder at the strength of the human spirit. As Wyatt noted: “I never associated shouting at people with making the world a better place.”