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The Soft Machine - Bundles CD (album) cover

BUNDLES

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.07 | 309 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
4 stars For a long time I found this album rather a disappointment, but in retrospect I think that's an illustration of just how significant names are. Even when trying to appreciate the album on its own merits, the rich heritage of the Soft Machine name, and the fact that the music bears no resemblance to that of the Ayers or Wyatt era, kept tripping me up.

What proved the trick, as with Seven, was coming to think of the album as being less by the Soft Machine of old and more as being "Nucleus by other means", the group now being dominated by former members of Ian Carr's fusion unit. We even get a new guitarist in the form of Allan Holdsworth, who'd appeared on Belladonna (in theory an Ian Carr solo album, in practice a Nucleus release in all but name), continuing this close association with the other band.

What we get here, then, is what we got back when Nucleus itself was still fresh - a nice slice of technically competent fusion, and the fact that it provides an early platform for the talents of Allan Holdsworth doesn't hurt. There's some progressive electronic elements here and there courtesy of Mike Ratledge, offering textures which you'd never find on a conventional Nucleus release and integrating them into the Nucleus sound. There's still parts I don't like - the drum solo of Four Gongs Two Drums seems rather pointless, in particular - but it's a solid offering for fusion fans and Canterbury fans alike, provided you are more in the mood for something like Nucleus and other more serious-minded projects than the playful airs more commonly associated with the Soft Machine.

Warthur | 4/5 |

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