Old Rottenhat

Robert Wyatt

Old Rottenhat

Robert Wyatt had often planted his tongue in cheek with the Soft Machine and his group Matching Mole, but as his solo work went into the ‘80s, his interests turned intensely political and serious. Not many singer-songwriters name-check Noam Chomsky in song, but Wyatt manages it in the opening cut, “Alliance,” of this 1986 solo album. Concerned with the exploitation of the poor and the death toll in “East Timor,” Wyatt uses his own dark keyboard chords and ominous synth lines to call out for greater justice. Musically, there are many quirks. “The United States of Amnesia” features a whistling solo amongst it high-tech songs (for the ‘80s, that is). “Speechless” is an instrumental that nearly plunges off the road in certain spots. “The Age of Self” adds a gravity-filled attempt at funk, complete with backing vocals. A delightfully weird album, Old Rottenhat stands on its own as a singularly strange musical piece tied together with Wyatt’s stunning voice.

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