Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.03 | 495 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Ratledge, Ayers and Wyatt were the triune Canterbury pioneers.

The Soft Machine is definitely an acquired taste and I will be the first to admit I could never get into their weird world although at times they come up with a song such as Moon In June that floors me for its dexterity and innovation. The debut for the band seems light years from that genius, yet is a better album than those jazz infested improvised ones to come. From the outset the album introduces us to this zany jazz fusion with Robert Wyatt's trademark ad lib style vocals and the off kilter tempo. The opening track does feature a terrific organ solo from Mike Ratledge that goes all over the place along with the crazy percussive meter and downright unsettling vocal intonations. It is almost as insane as Magma's style using repetition of phrases such as 'happiness'. Joy of a Toy is sandwiched in between, an important track for Kevin Ayers on bass. The solo of guitar, bass and droning effects is a nice psychedelic flourish. It builds to a driving rhythm and breaks into a quirky choppy time sig. The multi layered vocals are typical of Wyatt's style and Ayers leading to the reprise. Not a bad start. The next few songs build to a crescendo and feature sporadic percussion and hammering organ throughout with some delightfully odd lyrics.

Save Yourself is almost like an actual song but it is nowhere as good as when the band are jamming and improvising. The humourous time sig changes and weird guitar sounds are a key feature. Next is the short Priscilla, which is really an organ solo, leading to Lullabye Letter with its zany lyrics; "I've got something to tell you it's nice make you feel better, a lullabye letter". This one reminds me of the Pink Floyd Barrett style, and even is reminiscent of psychedelic Beatles, featuring a freak out organ break and accented percussion that is manic at times. The unsettling screeching at the end may disturb some listeners.

We Did It Again is one of the more well known Soft Machine songs, driven by repetitive title phrase and a hypnotic beat. The repeated phrase is essentially part of the music. I have heard this on many prog compilations but here it is heard in context as a part of the non stop music, all seamlessly blended together as one track. Plus Belle Qu'une Poubelle is a short organ driven thing that segues directly into

Why Are We Sleeping?, the longest track at 5:26 in length. The narrative is an interesting part of the psych strangeness, with incredibly bizarre hallucinogenic lyrics; "it begins with a blessing but ends with a curse, my mask is my master, the trumpeter weeps, his voice is so deep as he speaks from his sleep". This is followed by a short outro with a 25/4 time signature!

Overall this debut album is a part of the psychedelic flower power culture and an important part of the dawn of prog rock. It is definitely one of the better Soft Machine albums, and I was surprised how well it stands the test of time, with incredible tracks that stay with you with hypnotic repetitive melodies, and that I was able to rate this four stars as a result.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this THE SOFT MACHINE review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives