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The Soft Machine - Seven CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.67 | 265 ratings

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Soul Vigilante
4 stars When I first reviewed this album as part of a larger overview of the Soft Machine canon about nine years ago. I dismissed Seven as a "Windham Hill album on speed". Over the years, it has steadily become my second favorite of SM's work, tailing only "Volume Two" in terms of accesibility and intuitive progression. I should clarify, though, that I can only listen to Side A, but the strength of those tracks is enough to carry the value of this entry. "Nettle Bed" is an effective and energetic display of Karl Jenkin's formulamaic odd- time-signature groove-jam style first expressed ad nauseum on "Six", and neither before nor since would a better example emerge. Jenkin's follow-up, "Carol Ann", is a hauntingly beautiful suspended-animation Rhodes ballad a la Herbie Hacock's "Jessica". The album then takes us into Mike Ratledge's three-course swan song with regards to his material contribution to the Soft Machine franchise. "Day's Eye" is a smooth prog-groove showcase for Ratledge's signature distorted-Lowry organ soloing which had been such a benchmark of the Soft Machine sound going back to their beginnings. "Bone Fire", if only 0:33 in run time, serves more than simply to bridge "Day's Eye" with "Tarabos"; it marks the last time one of Ratledge's riffs which defy the boudaries of conventional time signature would be heard on a Soft Machine track, accented only the more by Jenkin's perfectly understated baritone sax lead. "Tarabos" manages to bleed from redundant unconventionally-metered groove to sickeningly redundant dynamic punch to John Marshall's free-form "D.I.S." The album, then transitioning to Side B, goes completely south, as does the overall quality off the output of the Soft Machine to my ears. Nonetheless, I still regard "Seven" as a strong curtain call for the last lingering elements of Soft Machine proper.
Soul Vigilante | 4/5 |


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