– as with all of Robert Wyatt’s solo albums – the thing that you notice most is his voice. That warm, wobbly warble masks an astonishing range, and Wyatt’s fluid facility is as engaging as it has ever been. Which is a good thing, because Comicopera
– like all of Wyatt’s solo albums – is a little thin on the musical side. Sketches of ideas are birthed into modest, raw structures built upon the barest of elements. Muted horns meander along vague melodies, blithely plucked guitar and bass lines whisper in the background and the plunk of a piano key acts as the occasional reminder that this is not an a cappella album. It could have been; Wyatt’s voice is a thing of subtle strength and beauty, rendering the instrumental portions nearly insignificant. Divided into three acts (it is an opera, you know), and featuring guests like Phil Manzanera, Paul Weller and Brian Eno (whose primary contribution is a vocal sample, ironically enough), Comicopera
only occasionally ventures into standard “song” territory – the second act, with its acoustic and faux-jazz numbers, is the most recognizable – but with Wyatt’s voice and compositional prowess at its core, “standard” is far from expected.