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The Soft Machine - Volume Two CD (album) cover

VOLUME TWO

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

3.98 | 326 ratings

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Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer
4 stars In the overall sense, VOLUME TWO is a marked improvement over the first Soft Machine album. The band sounds more tightly stitched and definitely more confident. The sound here is fuller, which is a plus considering the debut had a few production issues. While the whimsy of Kevin Ayers is no longer here, the late Hugh Hopper brings a nice, fuzzy, warm tone that further propels the group towards jazz fusion. If you're like me and looking at this in retrospect, VOLUME TWO is quite a halfway point between the debut and THIRD.

Part of what makes this album cohesive is that most of the tracks belong to either ''Rivmic Melodies'' (the entire A side of the record) or ''Esther's Nose Job'' (the last five tracks of the B side). Soft Machine are at least attempting to give somewhat of a unified connective-ness to this record, although it ends up functioning very similarly to Frank Zappa's ABSOLUTELY FREE album where the tracks are all laid out distinctly, but form a pageant/suite/epic. ''Esther's Nose Job'' most closely resembles an epic with distinct sections as the parts there flow very well into each other. There's a bit of jaggedness in trying to call ''Rivmic Melodies'' an epic; I mean, the tune goes from a goofy alphabet recitation to straight up fusion in ''Hibou, Anenome and Bear'' (the highlight track) and ultimately ends with avant-gardery in ''Out of Tunes''. ''Rivmic Melodies'' reminds me more of the second side of the third Chicago album.

Still, this volume of Soft Machine's catalog is worth checking out. It sounds like Mike Ratelidge gained a lot more confidence in the writing department, and Wyatt became a better singer almost overnight. Plus, the soft ''Dedicated to You?'' is a nice break from the action in the right spot.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |

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