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THE SOFT MACHINE

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.06 | 353 ratings

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Alucard
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the first official 'Soft Machine 'LP release recorded in 1968 as a trio by Robert Wyatt (drums & vocals), Mike Ratledge (organ & piano) and Kevin Ayers (bass & vocals) with a little help of the Hopper Brothers and produced by Chas Chandler and Tom Wilson. Daevid Allen had left in the meantime and apart from a single for 'Polydor' one year earlier, the material from the early sessions would be released only in the seventies.

The record is a mixture of Blues, Jazz and Rock, spiced with British houmour, surrealistic lyrics and a zest of Dada; all that would become a trademark of many Canterbury bands. An interesting feature : the presence of 'vocal riffs' (maybe due to the fact, that Kevin Ayers had switched from guitar to bass, some of the riffs usually played by guitar are transfered to the vocals, as in 'Hope For Happiness' and 'We Did It Again', giving the band an immediate trademark sound. Another feature borrowed from modern art is the 'collage' technique : editing small snippets together to a suite.

The record starts with a short 'Fake Blues' sung by Robert that leads into a Brian Hopper composition 'Hope For Happiness', introduced by a sung riff, that is followed by an organ solo and a re-exposition of the theme riff.

The next theme 'Joy Of A Toy,' a Kevin Ayers composition is introduced by the bass over Wyatt's heavily echoed drums and seagued into the reprise of 'Hope for happiness', followed by an organ wash and a drum outro.

'Why am I so short?' composed by Hugh Hopper with some tongue in cheek lyrics by Robert seagues into 'So boot if at all ' an instrumental with an distorted organ solo and a short introduction of the 'We Did It Again' theme.

'Save yourself' composed an sung by Robert alternates with 'Lullaby Letter' a Kevin Ayers composition linked together by some beautiful 'Canterbury' organ work by Mike Ratledge.

'We did it again' maybe the most typical one-liner-riff by Kevin Ayers with a gospel like quality: Monty Python meets Mahalia Jackson... followed by another Kevin Ayers 'hit' : 'Why are we sleeping?' a condensed version of the 'Canterbury' sound & lyrics : "It begins with a blessing, it ends with a curse/Making life easy by making it worse"My mask is my master", the trumpeter weeps/But his voice is so weak, as he speaks from his sleep",...

and as an outro of the record a nice piano/bass theme by Ratledge and Hopper.

'Soft Machine'(One) is musically not as challenging as the 'Soft Machine' records to come especially 'Two' and 'Three', but a true masterpiece, a musical Rock-Jazz-& Blues collage mixed with humour, the matrix of the Canterbury sound.

Alucard | 5/5 |

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