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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.23 | 891 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars I know that the administrators of this website recommend that one should give 5 star ratings sparingly. However, allow me to qualify my use of a 5 star rating for this album by saying that I have about 1000 CDs in my collection and this one still has to be my favourite out of all of them. I agree with the statements posted on this site that this album is not prog. That is certainly true in that it does not sound like Genesis, Yes, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso or any of my other favourite prog bands. I would describe it as fusion, although fusion of a very lysergic kind and relying heavily on keyboards rather than guitars as most other fusion does. However, in the original sense of the term, in that it is very different from anything else being made at the time, this album is certainly "prog". I will also freely admit that when I came across this album 10 years ago when I was 18 it made very little sense to me, particularly the outrageously distorted bass and Lowry organ and screeching tape loops on the opening track "Facelift", although I could detect some short, beautiful jazzy sections in the other two tracks while "Moon In June" was an instant hit, probably owing to the fact that this track was more accessible by virtue of having vocals. However, I persevered, playing it in the background when I was reading or doing other things and, eventually, the pieces of the jigsaw began to fit together. Don't be deceived - this is a monumental and unique album. Although clearly influenced by some of Miles Davis' work at the time, I honestly cannot say that it is in any way derivative. Many people may be put off by the fact that large sections of this album appear almost atonal at first listen, particularly when compared to the jazzy psychedelic pop of the previous two albums. This is for a simple reason. A power struggle was beginning to develop in the band between Wyatt, who liked vocals on tracks and wanted to retain some semblance of the former poppier sound, and Ratledge and Hopper who were increasingly in favour of moving in an instrumental jazz fusion direction. In fact, "Moon In June" is the last song on any Soft Machine studio album to feature Wyatt's vocals, although he did play drums on the next, entirely instrumental album "Fourth" before being forced out of the band. "Third" catches Soft Machine in transition between the early psychedelic pop of the first two albums and the all out (and often rather boring) fusion of the later albums. The music on this album though is not boring at all, ranging from dark, menacing freakout ("Facelift") to Terry Riley-eqsue loops and Zen-like, sparse, heart stoppingly beautiful instrumental sections ("Out Bloody Rageous"). This is an album which will amply repay the necessary time invested in it.
| 5/5 |


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