Each month Topman CTRL's resident controller Huw Stephens invites an artist to take charge in helping him source the best music from the web and beyond - and that includes writing a guest column for Q. This month Slow Club are in charge, so here's Charles Watson's guest column on Robert Wyatt. Head to Topman.com/ctrl for more.
The first time I heard Robert Wyatt I was eating chilli. I was totally ashamed that I'd never heard his music before. I found a record called Nothing Can Stop Us. It's a covers album featuring Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit and probably his most well known song, Shipbuilding written for him by Elvis Costello. Although this album is incredible and a brilliant introduction to his work, it was his newer material Comicopera that I was drawn to.
His voice has dropped a few semi tones since the seventies and has gathered some wisdom and gravity along the way. The song A Beautiful War is written from the surreal perspective of a pilot responsible for dropping bombs. He reduces the dark subject matter into disturbingly simple terms with lines like... It's a shame I'll miss the blaze but I'll see the film within days.... how they've got no time to flee, total success. It seems that Wyatt is a collaborative worker and there are some familiar names playing on this album from Brian Eno on keys and effects to Paul Weller on guitars and haircuts.
Wyatt's unmistakable voice and his particular delivery make the words and power behind them as clear as they could possibly be. The production on Comicopera goes from lush layers of woodwind on the first sections and moves into the more complicated avant garde sounds and arrangements of the later section. Various lyrics seem to repeat themselves, giving the impression of an intense amount of work done quickly where ideas cross over from song to song. The pipe organs and brass sections that run throughout sometimes conjures up images of a warped English hymn giving his music a temporary context, and just when you think you've got it, the whole thing changes and moves in another direction.
It is so wonderful to hear and experience years of craft in action. I can think of nothing more exciting than the thought of being his age and making records that are relevant and powerful to a young audience.
Charles Watson @charlesslowclub
PS will you produce our new album please?
For more musical discoveries from Slow Club this month head to Topman.com/ctrl.
10:40 AM | 24/04/2012
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