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The Soft Machine - Seven CD (album) cover

SEVEN

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

3.59 | 169 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
3 stars With Roy Babbington taking over Hugh Hopper's spot on bass, Seven sees Mike Ratledge in the unenviable position of not only being the sole remaining founder member of the band left on the album, but also the sole remaining member of the lineup that recorded Third (or Fourth if you don't count Babbington's guest spots on that album). With Karl Jenkins composing the majority of songs on this album, it's clear that despite Ratledge remaining very much a presence on this album, his position as band leader had more or less been ceded to Jenkins at this point.

So, the band having essentially become Mike Ratledge and three veterans of Nucleus, it's no surprise that it's jazz fusion all the way on this album, in much the same vein as the studio disc of Six (minus Hugh Hopper's contribution to that album, the foreboding 1983). The sound is somewhat more mellow and spacey, possibly because Mike Ratledge had finally got his hands on a synthesiser. In fact, the band seem so keen on their new toy they base a few songs (such as The German Lesson/The French Lesson) and DIS heavily around twinkling, futuristic synthesiser lines. To be honest,. this feels more than a little like filler, as though the band only had a few strong fusion compositions coming into the studio and so knocked out some New Age synth pieces to pad out the running time.

The fully-fledged fusion pieces here are, however, of a good standard, with a sound at points reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's spacier and more mellow moments. On balance, this is a three-star album from the late-phase Softs: a bit of a step down from the wonderful Six, but with tantalising evidence that there's life in the old Machine yet.

Warthur | 3/5 |

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