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The Soft Machine - Bundles CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.07 | 342 ratings

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4 stars "Bundles" is the 8th full-length studio album by UK experimental/fusion/jazz rock act Soft Machine. The album was released through Harvest Records in March 1975. Keyboard player Mike Ratledge was at this point the only founding member left in the lineup and even his involvement in Soft Machine was dwindling at this point. His writing contributions to "Bundles" is limited to two short tracks. Most of the material on the album are composed by Karl Jenkins (oboe, soprano sax, acoustic & electric pianos).

Musically "Bundles" also marks a pretty big shift in direction compared to the last couple of more jazz oriented releases. It's especially the inclusion of the, at the time, only 19 years old guitar prodigy Allan Holdsworth and his considerable contributions to the album, that make "Bundles" such a different sounding album to it's predecessors (Soft Machine's music hadn't featured guitar since their earliest days). The energy and the rythms make this a much more contemporary sounding fusion album than the more jazz oriented albums that came before it (think acts like jazz rock/fusion period Gong and Return to Forever).

The musicianship is not surprisingly top notch. These guys are professionals but not the type of professional musicians who are devoid of emotion because of it. It's probably an aquired taste if you can appreciate the change in sound and Allan Holdsworth's frantic shredding, but I guess people's opinions on "Bundles" will very much reflect how they feel about the preceeding releases. Personally "Bundles" appeal much more to me than anything Soft Machine released between "Third (1970)" and this one, so I'm happy as a pig.

The sound production is powerful and organic, which suits the music well. So upon conclusion "Bundles" is a high quality jazz rock/fusion album by Soft Machine. Tracks like the "Hazard Profile" suite and "Four Gongs Two Drums" are great jazz rock/fusion and the rest of the material are for the most part equally exciting. The ambient closing track "The Floating World" is a bit too longdrawn and to my ears a bit of an anti climatic way to end an otherwise greatly energetic release but I guess that's an aquired taste. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |


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