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The Soft Machine - Six CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.47 | 208 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars All in one: Soft Machine's Early Period and Future Period

Soft Machine's 6th album, entitled no more nor less than Six, was the turning-point to the full- blown Jazz Rock sound they would get somewhat popular with their future records, Bundles and Softs, which would feature a guitarist. While Six(and Seven) do not feature any guitarist, this record still manages to sound like those upcoming releases very much, of course that could be product of it being the same line-up, with the exception of Hugh Hopper who would leave for the following record. But what it really is that makes it sound similar to the 'Guitar' phase of Soft Machine is what I'm going to say while reviewing the album:

First LP of the original recording compromises of a live performance of this new line-up, in which demonstrates what the band will be playing in the future; lots of groove and energy coming from the fantastic rhythm section compromised by well-respected bass player Hugh Hopper and Nucleus' John Marshall, which in following releases would be compromised with Roy Babbington in place of Hugh on the bass duties. However the usual constant saxophone solos are present, but this time done by Karl Jenkins who also shares the keyboard duties with mastermind Mike Ratledge, giving a wider variety of soundscapes and jazzy hooks. Also, I must not forget that Jenkins' sax(and oboe!) style is rather more loose and suites well the groovy style this album has newely featured, unlike the more jazz-rooted and spacey Elton Dean who often edged strict jazz territory or avant-garde dissonance. Overall very exciting, and pretty jazz-less compared to their highly acclaimed 'Third', so this record is not exclusive for fans of that album either of Jazz. Worthy of mention is the exceptional craft from each song in which flows flawlessly one after the other as if they all compromised one awesome huge jazz rock composition, very much alike as they would do with Bundles and the live recording, British Tour '75.

Second LP is pretty much a different story, though. Not only it's the studio recording, but the style of it is pretty much in the vein of the proto-jazz rock style of Fourth and Fifth, rather than the rock-headed and groovy vein the live record presented. So fans of that previous period who didn't enjoy the live recording because of its rock-direction, then this record will surely satisfy your jazz and spacey needs, specially with Chloe and The Pirates and The Soft Weed Factor, two mesmerizing compositions in which take you to a whole different level to that of the live recording, both remind somewhat of In a Silent Way's slow build-up structure, but a bit more spacey-alike and with a 70s sound.

So 'Six' is indeed one excellent fresh, half Jazz Rock the other half classic Soft Machine, album. Both, fans of the guitar-driven Soft Machine and fans of the jazzier and more spacey Soft Machine can be delighted with this album, since the material of both styles are excellently done.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |


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