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The Soft Machine - Softs CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.88 | 242 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars With Mike Ratledge only appearing on a couple of tracks - and then only billed as a guest artist - Softs marks the precise moment where Soft Machine's links to its illustrious past were finally severed forever. Though to be fair, the only remaining link was the fact that Mike was present, rather than anything he was playing or contributing - by Mike's own account, Karl Jenkins and others had essentially taken over the songwriting for a while, and his last years in the band were a deeply uncomfortable experience he was glad to put past him.

So, what does Soft Machine sound like without Mike Ratledge? That's a good question, and one which the band show no sign of knowing the answer to, though the band's de facto status as a refuge for ex-Nucleus members means that competent jazz fusion is the main anchor. There's a gentle acoustic bit here, a bit of invigorating rockin' out on electric guitar by John Etheridge over there, and Karl occasionally tinkles on the synthesisers but doesn't seem to come up with anything decisive or compelling to do with them. Although it's pleasant enough, the style had already largely been wheeled out on Seven and Bundles, and on balance whilst I do appreciate having a third album in this style, it's not quite hot enough here to justify further helpings and it was probably the right call to disband after this. (The less said about the unlamented Land of Cockayne project the better...)

Warthur | 4/5 |


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