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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover

THIRD

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 695 ratings

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friso
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Soft Machine - Third (1970)

An introvert masterpiece...

1. Facelift (18:54) 2. Slightly All The Time (18:14) 3. Moon In June (19:18) 4. Out-Bloody-Rageous (19:17)

Such an ambitious design: a double lp with four tracks clocking 18-19 minutes each. Furthermore the pieces were written by different members of the band. Facelift was written by Hugh Hopper and is product of two live recordings mixed into one long track. This track has an avant-garde opening-section and is therefore not the right place to start when you buy this album. Slightly all the Time is jazz-rock session written by Make Ratlegde and also the last track ambient/electronic/jazzy Out-Bloody-Rageous was written by him. The third piece was written by Robert Wyatt and has a very recognizable sound for the Canterbury rock movement.

The recording quality. There has been a lot of discussion about the recording quality of this album, some find it to be bad, others admire it's focussed feel. IMHO the quality of the recording is different on the four tracks. The live recordings of Facelift are great during the avant-garde beginning, but are messy during the jazz-rock moments. Slightly all the time has an introvert jazz sound and could have used some treble on the notes of the wind sections, but is still very nice to listen to. The recording of Moon in June (by Wyatt) is very good in my opinion. The sound of track fits the compositions and makes this an essential Canterbury recording. The sound effect are done perfect. The final track sound as good as the second track of the album.

The great think about Soft Machine's third is the diversity of the album and it's appeal to listen to the different sides on different moments of the day. One gets an ambient/jazz piece with tape manipulations to start or end the day, one of the finest Canterbury tracks of Wyatt to space out in the evening, a jazz rock piece you can listen to all the time (even as background music) and an avant-garde piece for the heavy experiences you might like to have when your girlfriend isn't around. I don't think this record was meant to be listened to as one piece, which is good, because I don't like to listen to double lp's with songs that sound the same.

I can recommend this record fully to people who also like jazz and fusion, and I can recommend Robert Wyatt's Moon in June (side three) to everyone interested in the progressive genre. Canterbury fans will find enough to like and people who are into electronics and tape manipulations will find an early ambitious track on side four. For me this is a perfect double album: It's like having four short records. There always at least one track I'm in the mood for.

Conclusion. A classic Canterbury/progressive/jazz-rock record with an introvert sound, but with very much fresh ideas and a great concept. People like me, who can enjoy all moments of this diverse offering will never want to loose this record again. It has become a standard for measuring other Canterbury and fusion albums. It motivated me to get some more Soft Machine right away! Four stars in general, but if you like all styles mentioned you can add another star yourself.

* Edited *

This record has grown very well on me. I now understand this is one of the biggest masterpieces of the progressive genre. Five stars is therefore the least I can do.

friso | 5/5 |

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