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The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine Collection [also released as: Volumes One and Two] CD (album) cover

THE SOFT MACHINE COLLECTION [ALSO RELEASED AS: VOLUMES ONE AND TWO]

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.37 | 43 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is The Soft Machines first two albums released on one CD. This is a great opportunity to get both these excellent early prog rock / canterbury scene albums for the prize of one. This is a highly recommendable purchase.

The Soft Machine ( Vol. One):

The Soft Machine is the selftitled debut album from one of the two groups that emerged after the demise of The Wilde Flowers. Soft Machine and Caravan, which was the other band to emerge after The Wilde Flowers ceased to exist, were both very influential forces on the Canterbury music scene and they are widely aknowledged as the creators of that particular subgenre to progressive rock. While Caravanīs debut album didnīt impress me much itīs a whole other story with Soft Machine. This is a beautiful album and itīs got all the characteristica of early Canterbury scene. The whimsical singing style and humorous lyrics and the soft jazz/ rock approach to music.

The music on this debut album is very experimental which was a common feature on many recordings from 1968, but I think Soft Machine was a bit different. First of all this is not regular psychadelic music IMO even though itīs pretty strange at times. itīs rather intellectual if you ask me.

Robert Wyattīs drumming needs to be mentioned as it is very adventurous and his vocals are also along with the vocals from Kevin Ayers are defining for the Canterbury Scene. In my review of the debut from Matching Mole I was very critical towards Robert Wyattīs voice but itīs great here. Very fragile but great never the less.

The songs are short witful statements that at times can seem a bit underdeveloped which is a real shame as some of them definitely invites to longer sections ( there are some pretty cool intrumental sections, so donīt worry). That doesnīt mean that these songs donīt sound great as they are though. If you like Canterbury scene music this one is a must IMO. I wonīt mention any songs in particular as I like them all and I think that all the songs together is what makes this such a great album. There is a sort of concept like cohesiveness to the songs.

The musicianship is outstanding and above all innovative and adventurous. I really enjoy the interplay between the musicians.

The production is charming even though itīs not the best sixties sound quality I have heard. Itīs way better than Caravanīs debut album though.

Soft Machine has taken me by surprise with this album, and I must declare myself a fan from this day forth. At least of this brilliant album. I have been debating myself if this is a masterpiece but I have come to the conclusion that I will rate it 4 stars now and maybe later upgrade it to 5 if my excitement doesnīt stop. This is a highly recommendable album for Canterbury scene fans and for fans of sixties and early seventies prog rock in general too.

Volume Two:

The second album from The Soft Machine just called Volume Two continues the intellectual psychadelic late sixties prog rock style from their debut. Kevin Ayers has left the band to be replaced by former roadie for the band Hugh Hopper. The change is instantly heard as the distorted bass from Hugh Hopper is heard for the first time. It must have been quite a revolution to hear a bass so heavily distorted as this one in 1969. Hugh Hopperīs dominant distorted bass is one of the great things about this album.

Overall the style of the music is pretty much a continuation of the style Soft Machine introduced on the debut. Witful lyrics and pretty short psychadelic rock songs with exciting twists. There are lots of small interludes between the longer tracks which works as bridges between those songs. It means that Volume two sometimes has a kind of concept feeling to it.

The instrumentation is keyboards, bass, drums and vocals and some sax from Hughīs brother Brian Hopper. Since Daevid Allen ( Gong) wasnīt admitted entrance into Britain after a vacation and had to leave the band because of that there hadnīt been a guitarist in the band. There are sporadic guitar playing, but no one is credited for playing the guitar. You donīt miss the guitar though as Mike Ratledge is very good at filling out any empty space with his keyboards and the both the bass and the drums are very dominant too. The vocals from Robert Wyatt are very good on this album. Really enjoyable.

The production is pretty similar to the one on the debut album which means a good sixties sound quality.

Volume Two is an excellent canterbury scene album that deserves 4 stars. Even though there are similarities between volume one and two I still think Volume two is a bit better than the debut. This is highly recommendable music.

Conclusion: Everyone should have this CD in their home. Itīs beautiful and ahead of itīs time in many respects. As I have given both albums 4 stars I will also give this compilation 4 stars.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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