Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time

Retrospective featuring guests Eno, Björk and Nick Mason.

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Timed to coincide with Marcus O’Dair’s biography of the same name, this double anthology spans Robert Wyatt’s long career from Canterbury’s late-1960s free-jazzing prog-folk scene to his most recent solo albums.

Kicking off the first disc, Ex Machina, Soft Machine’s Moon In June sounds like A Whiter Shade Of Pale for free-jazzing Krautrock fans, while Matching Mole’s Signed Curtain showcases Wyatt’s verbal wit with a sleepy-voiced lyric that deconstructs the songwriting process while ruminating on the futility of art. Although some of the 1980s material now feels a little musically stiff and politically dry, post-millennial tracks such as Cuckoo Madame and Beware are warm savant-jazz ballads backed by guest players including Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno./o:p

Manzanera appears again on the second disc, Benign Dictatorships, a collection of Wyatt’s collaborations. From bilingual Euro-cabaret chansons to vaguely Eastern reggae-tinged experiments with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, not everything here has aged gracefully. But Submarine is a voluptuous vocal collaboration with Björk, while Wyatt’s definitive reading of Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding feels as powerful as ever. Always engaging, occasionally magical./o:p

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.