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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover

THIRD

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 697 ratings

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crimson87
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Bitches Brew meets Krautrock meets Canterbury!

Mind-blow-ing: 1- Producing allucinatory effects.

2- Intensely affecting the mind or emotions

Now , when it comes to this record I think both definitions are suitable. During 75 minutes your mind will be affected by long improvs , sonic exprimentation and supreme mucisianship. As we know , Vol 2 had already shocked our minds with a 35 min run of psychedelia and Dadaism.But is anyone would have told me that the band was going to evolve like this I would not believe it on a hundred years!!

By this time the Soft Machine added sax virtuoso Elton Dean that placed the band's sound on a new level he would be a permenent member of the Machine for several albums. As a four man unit - the band was strong as ever.

This double album starts with Facelift , actually a live version that got several treatment on the studio. After a couple of minutes of Ratledge's magic a full blown jazzy sound emerges... No! it's not jazz it's more like a tribal chant that will guide you to sonic extasy!! This track is esencially a tape collage (as many tracks from Bitches Brew) and a sudden change comes at the 9 minute mark when a flute improv by guest member Jimmy Hastings ( Pye's brother) starts. When you think nothing more will happen , there it comes the tribal chant again and grabs you by the balls to give the song a proper ending.

Slighty all the time I hear this album second number I can't do anything but stare in numbness being totally allienated by Hugh Hopper's basslines and , mostly Elton's Dean sax riffs one after another. I don't know where I could find saxophone moments like this in prog (Yes I know there's Starless) the brilliance of this track can only be compared to Coltrane's Giant Steps or Miles's Blue in Green. I will do justice to this track by saying is a modern jazz standard.

As I dissgression , a friend of mine was listening to this record while having a fix (lights out , insence candles on in order to create a proper ambience) And he got in awe when he saw that the basslines moved the smoke back and forth!! As high as he was , he may be right. Hugh's fuzz bass is one of the most unique sounds in progressive rock. Moreover , it can seriously damage your speakers if they are not good enough.

At the beggining the second LP we can hear the last song by the band that featured lyrics Moon in June. This tune is THE Canterbury scene official anthem more or less. Oddly enough Robert Wyatt improvises the vocal part and on the first half of the song he plays all the instruments , on the second half we can hear more improvising but this time mostly by guest mucisian Rab Spall with the violin. Moon in June combines both aspects of the band , on one side there are the whimsical (but not less beautiful) lyrics and vocals , while on the other there is the jazzier side of the band the one that will get more prominent as time goes by.

The masterpiece closes with a Ratledge track called Out Bloody Rageous. There is a heavy psychadelic feeling on the first 5 minutes thanks to his exprimentations with the Lowry and Hammond organs (not to say the lots of tape loops) After that the tracks changes into a jazzy mood much like Facelift , which is not bad by any means.

There is a point with this album yhat is very important and that is sound quality. It is even bad by 1970's standards. Raw and dissorted.However it feels like the band wanted to keep it that way to show that Third was mainly an experimental record. For that reason , many remasters were done in order to polish the sound. But let me tell you that I take my old CD edition over anything else ( OK not the LP perhaps) it keeps an old vintage feel which i love.

If you are new to the Canterbury Scene , probably Third is not the best place to go since is not the most representative record of the movement. It's advisable to get to the Land of Grey and Pink or to spend some time on the Rotter's Club for a start.

crimson87 | 5/5 |

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