BEEP discografie entry for Shleep
Robert Wyatt

click on image to enlarge
Year: 1997
Categorie: Collaboration
Cover Art Credits:
Illustartion - by Alfreda Benge and Robert Wyatt.
Typography & Layout - by Phil Smee.
Producer info:
Robert Wyatt, exept song 1
produced by Brian Eno
Recording Location info:
Phil Manzanera's Gallery
studio during 96-97
Catalog info:
Thirsty Ear 57040.2
 1.- Heaps Of Sheeps                4:57 <--  sound 
 2.- The Duchess                    4:18
 3.- Maryan                         6:11
 4.- Was A Friend                   6:11
 5.- Free Will And Testament        4:13
 6.- September The Ninth            6:41
 7.- Alien                          6:48
 8.- Out Of Season                  2:31
 9.- A Sunday In Madrid             4:41
10.- Blues In Bob Minor             5:47
11.- The Whole Point Of No Return   1:22

Additional information:
Heap Of Sheeps:
Brian Eno - vocal chorus, synthesiser
Jamie Johnson - guitar
Robert Wyatt - voice, keyboards, bass guitar, percussion
The Duchess:
Brian Eno - synthesiser
Evan Parker - soprano saxophone
Robert Wyatt - voice, polish fiddle, keyboards, percussion
Philip Catherine - guitar
Chucho Merchan - double bass, percussion
Chikako Sato - violin
Robert Wyatt - voice, trumpet, keyboard
Was A Friend:
Alfreda Benge - voice of the apparition
Robert Wyatt - voice, trumpet, bass guitar, percussion
(intro - sample from 'The Music Of Robert Wyatt' by the very astute Austrian
'The More Extended Versions').
Free Will And Testament:
Paul Weller - all guitars, harmony vocals
Robert Wyatt - voice, keyboards, percussion
September The Ninth:
Evan Parker - tenor saxophone
Annie Whitehead - trombone
Robert Wyatt - voice, keyboards, bass guitar, percussion
Gary Azukx - djembe
Phil Manzanera - guitar
Chucho Merchan - bass guitar, bass drum
Robert Wyatt - voice, keyboards, percussion
Out Of Season:
Annie Whitehead - trombone
Robert Wyatt - voice, trumpet, keyboards, bass guitar
A Sunday In Madrid:
Brian Eno - synthesiser, synth bass
Evan Parker - soprano saxophone
Robert Wyatt - voice, keyboards, bass guitar, percussion
Blues In Bob Minor:
Paul Weller - guitars
Robert Wyatt - voice, keyboards, percussion
The Whole Point Of No Return:
Robert Wyatt - trumpet, keyboard
Chorus - Alfreda Benge, Jamie Johnson, Charles Rees, Robert Wyatt

Recorded - by Jamie Johnson at Phil Manzanera's Gallery Studio, during the
autumn, winter and spring of 1996 - 1997 except 'Maryan', voice and violin
recorded at the Chapel Studio, S.Thoresby - guitar recorded in Belgium, at
the Moon Office, as part of a project for producer Jo Bogaert.

Mixed - by Robert Wyatt, with Jamie Johnson and Charles Rees, except 'Free
Will And Testament' and 'Blues In B Minor' mixed by Paul Weller, with Jamie
and Charles.

Produced - by Robert Wyatt, except 'Heaps Of Sheeps', produced by Brian Eno.
'Alien', voice production by Alfreda Benge.

The Recording:

Phil Manzanera's generous hospitality gave me enough time in the Gallery,
his studio on St.Ann's Hill in Chertsey, to work with Jamie Johnson on this
bunch of songs, without having to keep a nervous eye on the clock while
trying to make music. And jamie's patience and musical intelligence meant I
was able to relax and concentrate as if at home. For someone for whom
recording in studios produces near-panic, their contributions were

Also, I was really lucky that a few really classy musicians were able to
come along and blow some fresh wind into my sails: old friends like Annie
Whitehead, Evan Parker, Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera himself, and new
friends like Gary Azukx, Chucho Merchan and Paul Weller. I already had
Chikako Sato on tape with Philip Catherine for a project that Jo Bogaert
began In Belgium.
A lot of the time, though, it was just me and Jamie beavering away, with
Charles Rees joining us for the mix to unravel the mysteries of the mixing
chamber. I thank them all.

The Songs:

The songs are collaborations too: some the result of writing words for other
people's tunes, some written to Alfie's words, and in the case of 'Alien',
actually written with Alfie.
Apart from her souvenir snapshots of a visit to Madrid with her pa, Alfie's
words arrived in and around our old wooden dacha at Humberston Fitties. The
Fitties are on the Humber Estuary opposite Spurn Point, a vital resting
place for migrant birds and home to many others.
'September The Ninth', for example, was an unusually early day on which
hundreds of swallows gathered around our dacha and rested awhile before
disappearing into the blue yonder. It was a rare moment of pure awe for us.
The imagery of 'Alien' comes, I think, from empathising with the
extra-terrestrial trajectory of the swift.
My own words mostly struggled onto paper from endless weeks of fevered
insomnia, which left me with an almost insatiable craving for the abyssal
ooze of deep, deep sleep.

The Musicians:

Gary Adzukx, who has sung with Phil Manzanera but now plays studio mostly
(for spectacular club events), was visiting the studio and showed me the
African djembe drums, so I got him to play them for us on 'Alien'. A

I met Philip Catherine in Brussels over two decades ago, when I briefly
joined him on stage during a party to mourn his last free nights before
having to do national service. Belgium has a unique guitar tradition
(Django, Rene Thomas) of which Philip is a stunning example.

Brian Eno has helped me out often before, on record (Matching Mole, Little
Red Record, Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard), and also in other important
ways. A 21st century virtuoso, I think.

Brian produced 'Heaps Of Sheeps', and decided a guitar was needed. Jamie
Johnson came up trumps. He's a real musician in his own right (plus he knows
Orion when he sees one), and made recording seem easy by taking care (with
his clever pal Charles Rees), of the difficult bits.
A helpful but non-judgmental engineer: (do you know how rare that is?)

Phil Manzanera, our very own man in Havana, (from whose tune 'Frontera' I
was once allowed to extract a torrent of useful phrases in Castillian) gets
a wonderful guitar sound. He's also full of very useful ideas.

One of Phil's best ideas was to invite Chucho Merchan over to give us a
couple of bass lines. He wears little glittering chains as shoelaces:
serious stuff. He has ears like greased lightning, but doesn't make a big
deal of it.

The last time I got Evan Parker to enhance one of my little pieces was over
ten years ago (on Paul Haines' poem 'Cursty', for his 'Darn It' CD). Here on
tenor ('September The Ninth'), as well as soprano saxophone. There is no
more formidable saxophonist playing today.

"How come you're up a tree, if you want to catch fish?" is one of Chikako's
wise sayings. Chikako Sato has brought a touch of class and magic to the
out-of-the-way country town where I now live, breaking out of the classical
mould to play violin (and viola) with such diverse musicians as Grimbsby
jazz pianist, Leo Solomon and

Hearing his wonderfully fresh recent trio work, it's worth remembering that
Paul Weller has negotiated over twenty years in the rock business and still
comes up smelling of roses! I've always loved his style and integrity from a
distance, and his intense vitality close-up came as an invigorating bonus.
After all these years, I have just half a dozen rock heroes, and Paul is one
of these few.

Finally, I want to thank Annie Whitehead, for her conscientiousness, musical
acuity and singing trombone tone. It was remembering the way she shadowed
Ernest Mothle's bass line on Jerry Dammer's arrangement of 'Wind Of Change'
that convinced me that she was the ally I needed on, for example, 'Out Of
Season'. Look out for her own recordings like 'Naked' and 'This Is Rude'.
Half the musicians on 'Shleep' had already worked with Annie. Hear why.

                                                                Robert Wyatt

                        UK - Hannibal/Rykodisc, 1997
                           USA - Thirsty Ear, 1998