Robert Rotifer has found something positive from his worst nightmare. How very stiff upper lip. How very English of him.
The Austrian, who has been living in the UK for decades, is among the very many left shell-shocked by 2016’s Brexit vote. For him and his family in Kent it has extra resonance. Will he even be able to stay in the country? Still such important questions are up in the air.
He’s been rallying against the decision ever since with incredulity, anger, despair and sometimes humour. The whole omni-shambles of Brexit does often seem more akin to political satire. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Amidst this state of confusion, John Jervis of Wiaiwya Records stepped forward to give Rotifer a small lifeline and the chance to put all these swirling thoughts onto disc.
His offer was to be one of seven artists, who are each recording a 77 minute track to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières. Brexit was the obvious muse for Rotifer’s part to the project, which has also helped him fulfill a long held musical desire.
I’ve always wanted to do one of those long-form psychedelic song suites with playful bits, recurring motifs, extended hypnotic bits and found sound segues.
Coupled with this long standing desire he also decided to record mostly at the moment of writing, to give it a spontaneous feel. The format and this method perfectly suits his experience of Brexit and the dream like state the UK has been left in.
The voices of those affected, Europeans dealing with racism and news announcements of the whole political mess, drop in and out among his finger picking and strumming on this largely acoustic guitar based psychedelic folk album.
There’s a family trip to the beach from his home town, Canterbury, that’s full of warmth and fear for the future in equal measure. There’s an ode to Jervis too.
Some songs within this 77-minute are more structured, such as the They Don’t Love You Back segment. Other times its like a frantic folk jam. It’s almost like Rotifer’s trying to get as many notes onto disc as he can before the Prime Minister Theresa May kicks him out.
The end result is excellent – a swirling, whirly-gig of summery folk. Part rant at Brexit, part love letter to England – which, sadly, for 51.9% of voters at least, is not loving him back.
by Joe Lepper