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Soft Heap - Rogue Element (as Soft Head) CD (album) cover

ROGUE ELEMENT (AS SOFT HEAD)

Soft Heap

 

Canterbury Scene

3.99 | 12 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Second album of Soft Heap where Pip Pyle had obligation elsewhere and he was replaced by Dave Sheen, thus Soft Head and the album Rogue Element, of which I'm sure, the elephant occupying the artwork is certainly aimed at. So this album was recorded the following year than the debut and released on the Ogun label, already familiar to progheads for Keith Tippett's works. This is the recording of gig in deep France.

Opening the album on the Dean-penned Seven For Lee, the album starts on a Soft Machine mode with Dean soaring over the rest of the band, but Gowen and Hopper are just behind Elton, making this track the easiest of the album. Hopper's seven Drones veers instantly into dissonant ground, proof that not only Dean was able to follow Marshall around the Machine's fifth album. Nothing too hard for the novice's ears with Gowan's soft electric piano bedding the track. More accessible is the Gowan-penned Remain So, a piano- dominated tune.

The flipside opens on CRRC, written by Alan, and last some 14 minutes, which is enough to let you know that he's a full member of Heap, despite having Gilgamesh still under way (with Hopper appearing), but the "tune" appears more real jazz than fusion or jazz-rock, the mid-song energy outburst not bringing much new. The closing One Three Nine is just more of the same as the album offered you so far.

Ogun released a Mini-Lp reissue of this album in 96, and had the luck to find two extra unreleased tracks (apparently from the same concert, since the ambiance and sound are the same as on the album) and included them as bonus on this release. The 17-mins Dean composition Ranovais a slow starting tune on piano, than sax with Sheen Hoppering on the train a while later. Not too dissonant, but definitely beyond the huge majority of Machine standards, but by Heap/Head standard, quite normal C You Again is really very slow and mega-dissonant, making this track the weaker point on the album, but it remains part off that night's concert.

So the two bonus tracks are excellent added value for the original album, which makes the new version lasting some 60 minutes, which is plenty enough and not lasting too long. I wouldn't call any Heap/Head album essential Canterbury scene music, but they are exactly the kind of albums that consolidate the genre.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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