January 6, 2010 – 4:05 am

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

A Season In Hell [no label, 1CD]

Very good BBC Radio 3 broadcast. November 14, 2009.

A Season in Hell was written between April and August 1873 in London and France, when Rimbaud was 18, and in the throes of an intense, transgressive and destructive relationship with Verlaine. It is regarded as one of the most remarkable pieces of prose poetry ever written - a mixture of autobiography and enigmatic dream sequence in which Rimbaud looks back in despair over his life as a poet. Combining lucid self-appraisal with demented vision, it moves between hyper-realism and hallucinatory surrealism, blending sounds, colours, odours and intensely visual images. The 25 pages of A Season in Hell, here cut to a third of its length, are seen as both a testimony to and a tortured recantation of Rimbaud’s poetic credo, the ‘disordering of all the senses’.

Elizabeth Purnell’s soundtrack for the work includes composed music, field recordings and processed sound in a raw response to the words; she set the poems specifically for Wyatt, whose voice in its high, delicate register suggests a beyond-the-grave alter-ego to the young Rimbaud.

Contains language that might cause offence.

Though Robert Wyatt already built a reputation as a prog rock/experimental musician in the ’60s through his group Matching Mole, an accident in 1973 which left him paralysed from the waist down did not deter him from making music. For many music listeners, Wyatt came to the fore in the early ’80s with his cover of Elvis Costello’s anti-Falklands War anthem, Shipbuilding.

Thanks to tom_phillips who shared this recording on the Dime site and to fastone for the artwork.

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. Radio Intro (0.38) (916k)
Track 02. A Season in Hell (29.12)
Part A (3.3MB)
Part B (9.6MB)
Part C (6.5MB)
Part D (7.9MB)
Part E (7.3MB)
Part F (5.9MB)
Track 03. Radio Outro (0.20) (471k)

Narrated by Carl Prekopp
Soundscape by Bristol composer Elizabeth Purnell
Poems sung by Robert Wyatt.

Click here for radio producer Sara Davies’s fascinating account of turning Rimbaud’s work into a radio show.

Click here to order Robert Wyatt’s albums.

  1. 6 Responses to “ROBERT WYATT - A SEASON IN HELL”

  2. Was he in Soft Machine?

    By bill on Jan 13, 2010

  3. Yes, that’s right. He was in Soft Machine, but he quit after the recording of Soft Machine 4. Later be became paraplegic, when he fell out of a window, but continued to record many beautiful albums, while living in Spain. Also a singer on many CDs that lean more to the avantgarde, e.g. on some of Mike Mantlers ECM albums, with Henry Cow etc.

    By Walter on Jan 13, 2010

  4. Thanks Walter!

    By bill on Jan 14, 2010

  5. When he left the Softs, he founded a band named Matching Mole. They produced 2 excellent studio albums and a live one. If you like the Softs, you will love the Mole.

    By Johnny Kinkdom on Jan 23, 2010

  6. Hi - I was really surprised to find this; not much of a downloader but when it comes to Robert Wyatt….I’ll bite.

    Anyway downloaded this the other day and discovered that Part 2D and 2E are the same and there is no part 2E. Did anyone else have this problem? I supposed there’s no chance it can be corrected.

    Oh well, at least I heard most of it but I think without that part I miss a Wyatt song.

    By treborij on Sep 27, 2013


    By darth on Dec 10, 2013

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