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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover

THIRD

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.19 | 1035 ratings

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sgtpepper
5 stars "Third" is musically a stunning, transitional, influential and progressive album by Soft Machine. Not only has it influenced many proggers and to some extent, psychedelic rock fans, it also contains a very good balance between improvisation, emotions, motives and craftmanship. I understand that some people complain that music sounds repetitive and is certainly more monotous than jazz. Basic chords aren't complex, dynamic parts alternate between 2 or 3 chords. However, instrumental performance, changes of moods, innovative use of vocal, sonic textures and being one-of-kind make it an exceptional album not only in the Canterbury realm but overall in progressive rock.

The band started to absorb more jazz-rock influence and get more distanced from psychedelic rock but haven't abandoned it. The combination of organ and various brass instruments is irresistible. I praise busy Watt's drumming which may not be very inventional or technical but adds a lot to colour. The first composition "Facelift" starts too slowly to my taste but brings a more reflective mood in the vein of psychedelic jazz. Great saxophone and great soloing with supporting bass guitar playing is inspiring. Btw, did you notice the absence of guitar on the album? Even though compositions aren't complex by definition, there's plenty of soloing and rhythm augmentation. The first composition is closest to jazz with very loose structure and abundance of saxophone.

"Slightly all the time" is more structured and elegant, highly recommend focusing on bass and keyboards (pianet, organ). After 5 minutes, we finally get a fast-paced very elegant section with irregular rhythms and clarinet soothing. Organ kicks in later. The peak of the composition comes quite late towards to the end - you can hear one of the most classic Canterbury sections sonically, absolutely breaktaking and saxophone solos absolutely out of jazz. The very end is more solem with nice chords.

"Moon in June" has a nice development too; it contains fine Wyatt's vocals as another instrument. It also sounds quite straightforward in the beginning having clear psychedelic rock organ and melody. The second part of the song is totally legendary, this time without brass instruments, only organ(s). bass, drumming as busy and jazz as it gets. The end is smooth again, showing experimenting in the studio and traces of avantgarde jazz with violin.

"Out-bloody-rageous" has a "classic" fusion/jazz motive and is pretty intensive right from the beginning. Drumming by Wyatt is stunning because of the fill-ins. The quiet part has great saxophone improvisation. The end is pretty experimental but digestible with repeated loops of instruments.

A masterpiece of Canterbury progressive rock and an extremely focused record without any thought of going commercial.

sgtpepper | 5/5 |

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