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The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine CD (album) cover

THE SOFT MACHINE

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.07 | 377 ratings

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Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Messy start for one of the premier Cantebury bands.

Most of the debut of the Soft Machine dabbles in whimsical psych-pop with heavy jazz leanings. It would be nice if the music gelled cohesively, but it sounds as if the pop and the jazz are having a contest to see which will appeal to the listener most. The end results happen to be pop songs that have great melodies but poor finishes and more cerebral jazz motifs that sound inebriated.

This album almost seems bittersweet as Gong maestro Daevid Allen was out before the album's release and bassist Kevin Ayers was out of the band the next year. Ayers's bass sound is kind of unique, usually sounding muffled though, but ''Joy of a Toy'' has a serene bass melody that really sticks out and makes it a highlight track on the album. Wyatt's drumming and vocals sound strangely flat, something he'd fix soon enough.

Most of the poppier tracks are highlights. ''We Did It Again'' is one of those repetitive things that ends up being fun (and sounds like it should be in a soundtrack to a 60's beach movie), ''Save Yourself'', ''Lullabye Letter'' and ''Hope for Happiness'' are very strong in the melody department, and ''Why Are We Sleeping'' gives the album a good epic finish (other than the little experiment at the end). There are many transition tracks that aren't too bad, but end up being just filler. There are also some huge question marks like the plodding ''A Certain Kind'' and the messy avant-garde ''So Boot If All'' that wreck the album's consistency.

It's a piece of prog history, but several kinks still need to be worked out here.

(As a footnote, this review was written a few weeks before the passing of bassist Kevin Ayers. I would like to add in post that Ayers kept a sardonic yet whimsical sense of humour that ultimately provided some of the more memorable features on this album.)

Sinusoid | 3/5 |

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