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The Soft Machine - Floating World Live (Bremen 1975) CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.84 | 54 ratings

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4 stars Spirited performance by the legendary jazz-rock platform, an animal that always seemed more interested in making music than crafting art. This radio broadcast from 1975 can have a jam session feel but the material is so good and the players so skilled that it becomes more, and it marked yet another transformation for the chameleon group, this time touring the 'Bundles' album with Allan Holdsworth on guitar and violin. There are a few inconsistencies; the bass is a bit prominent in the mix and Mike Ratledge's keys a bit low, and a couple solos go too long... but hey, it was 1975. For the most part Ratledge, Jenkins, Marshall, Babbington and Holdsworth do a bang-up job kicking out melodic, warm and weighty jazz-rock, doing the thirteen tracks real justice and outplaying their colder, high-brow peers in Fusion. 'The Floating World' is a smoker as is 'Bundles'. 'Ealing Comedy' stretches on a bit but 'The Man Who Waved at Trains' sports a rare violin solo from Holdsworth, 'Peff' rocks long and jazzes hard at 6 1/2 minutes, and 'North Point' bubbles with electronic explorations and ping-pong soundgames while staying musical. It opens into the high-power and pulsing grooves of 'Hazard Profile', a smashing cut that is sadly incomplete due to a poorly-timed radio commercial break. The fluid drums and Chinese percussives in 'J.S.M.' next, followed by the aptly named 'Riff lll', an eight-minute spontaneity. Holdsworth accents with guitar perfectly, not having fully honed his signature style yet but still beyond most axmen of the day. And the rhythm section of Marshall/Babbington does an admirable job holding the whole show together. 'Song of Aeolus' laments nicely and 'Endgame' bops something fierce. If you can get past the brown sound and low-key attitude, this is a great set of English jazz-rock by the band that more or less invented it.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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