Music

B+

Cuckooland

Lead Performer: Robert Wyatt; Producer (group): Hannibal, Rykodisc

Since an accident in the early ’70s left him in a wheelchair, the former drummer-vocalist of ’60s U.K. psych-jazzbos the Soft Machine has made haunting solo records that increasingly ponder, wisely and gently, why humans are such brutes. The latest continues his evolution from pop minimalism to more open songwriting with cameos by avant-jazz offspring Karen Mantler (playing Tammy Wynette to his activist George Jones) and old prog-rock pals like Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Mixing horns, strangely billowing keyboards, and restless drumming, he creates a sort of ambient swing, while his weathered high tenor remains as moving as any jazz singer you can name. BACKSTORY-TELLING Look for Wyatt’s 1974 LP ”Rock Bottom” (Virgin) and ”Compilation,” which contains the definitive version of Elvis Costello’s 1983 antiwar meditation ”Shipbuilding.”

Originally posted November 21 2003 — 12:00 AM EST

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