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Wyatt, Atzmon, Stephen | For the Ghosts Within

Domino (2010)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  November 2, 2010
3.0 3.0 Stars


Enough has been written about Robert Wyatt's voice that there's no need to elaborate on his genius. Economy is the word here — though Wyatt's never made a bad album, he's made hardly 10 since 1970. Here he collaborates with saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, violinist Ros Stephen, and Stephen's Sigamos String Quartet. And for those who've been waiting since 2007's Comicopera, the result feels like a Wyatt album. As much as the interaction gives to Atzmon's smoky, note-heavy playing and Sigamos's scholarly charts, Wyatt fans will appreciate the "different-ness" that can grow only in the mossy loam of his sensibilities. He's the featured vocalist over most of the 11 tracks, which include a smattering of interesting new compositions (like the title track), half a dozen or so jazz standards ("Laura" and " 'Round Midnight," for two), and decent reworkings of Wyatt classics like "Maryan" (from 1974's Rock Bottom). Hearing him navigate the obtuse melodies of straight jazz makes utter sense, yet Sigamos's lush, classically geared string arrangements allow the well-loved classics to show off their dazzling compositional virtues. For the Ghosts Within descends into a strange netherworld bordered by art pop, jazz, and classical that few seek to visit.

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