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The Soft Machine - Land Of Cockayne CD (album) cover

LAND OF COCKAYNE

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

3.01 | 137 ratings

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beebfader
4 stars This, the final album recorded under the name Soft Machine, has been much maligned as being extraneous to the legacy of a band who forged a unique and truly progressive path through the late sixties and seventies. The truth of the matter is that it really is a Karl Jenkins project in all but name, but it should not be unfairly filed alongside the library music of the posthumously issued `Rubber Riff'.

One look at the players listed here should tell anyone that this not a bland collection of half- baked instrumentals, but quite a feast of surprisingly strong musical sketches. Jenkins leads (as keyboardist and conductor) such talents as the mighty Jack Bruce and Allan Holdsworth and twin sax maestros Ray Warleigh and Dick Morrissey. John Taylor contributes some first class Fender Rhodes, while Softs cohort John Marshall is as reliable and vibrant as ever on drums.

The album is a suite of varied instrumental pieces ranging from appealing, sunny pieces for sax and wordless vocals, melodic ambient excursions, string sections, and strong themes which allow ample time for quality soloing from the giants gathered here. Yes, it is easy on the ear, but it carries a gravitas which relates back to Jenkins' compositions for earlier incarnations of Soft Machine. The extended `Panoramania' and `Hot Biscuit Slim' both recall the joy of a beautifully scored head theme ushering in a collection of solos by musicians who by virtue of their pedigree make every note count. `Black Velvet Mountain' is a wonderful showcase for Allan Holdsworth's ability to get inside a melody, which like his work with the Bruford band of this era, exude the authority of a seasoned player. `Sly Monkey' offers further evidence that an Allan Holdsworth solo is a thing of great joy, especially when complemented by the equally majestic saxophone of Ray Warleigh.

It may not be groundbreaking, but sure as hell it's worth it just to hear these players do what they do best. Much underrated and well worthy of reinvestigation, just don't expect `The Moon In June'.

beebfader | 4/5 |

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