Robert Wyatt: Comicopera

By: Dennis Cook

Interested in getting haunted? No, not that poltergeist crap, I'm talking a whisper that beds down in your ear, a mouthwatering scent from long ago that endures, the warmth of fingers remembered from a faded parting. Robert Wyatt's Comicopera (Domino) is all these things given musical shapes, albeit ones that confound familiar outlines.

Parts of Comicopera sway with the oceanic smoothness of late Roxy Music, others skip like "A Foggy Day In London Town" after a few sugar cube sweetened glasses of absinthe. If this is "pop" or "rock" then it's playing on a frequency more free and unencumbered than anything in this dimension. There's a persistent notion that adventurous music needs to be at least a little difficult, and darlings, difficult this ain't.

Comicopera is broken down into three acts, and while there's probably a narrative thread each bright step forward is so absorbing that it'll take you ages to figure out what tale you're being told. Wyatt has never sung with greater clarity or inspired phrasing, and his trumpet and cornet playing merges Jon Hassell and Chet Baker - ghostly and ballad stroked, the instrument's usual sharp tang softened but not diminished. His coconspirators include Brian Eno (who also lends a compositional hand), Paul Weller, Roxy's Phil Manzanera and Brazil's Monica Vasconcelos.

Stranger as it goes, Comicopera makes fragmentation fun as it nestles into Spanish shores, finding reflective power in Federico Garcia Lorca and saucy revolutionary amour. You'll awaken bleary on the other end of this one but surely touched by Wyatt's lovely, lingering sojourn.

JamBase | United Kingdom
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[Published on: 1/4/08]

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