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Soft Heap - Soft Heap CD (album) cover


Soft Heap


Canterbury Scene

3.55 | 46 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars What a lineup ! Elton Dean on sax, Pip Pyle on drums, Alan Gowen on keys, and Hugh Hopper on bass.There is a SOFT MACHINE flavour to this album partly to do with Dean and Hopper's presence. Of course when the first part of the band's name has Soft in it the connection becomes obvious. The Heap part came about by taking the first initials of the four members first names.The music here has an avant-garde flavour at times, but is distinctly Canterbury / Jazz. I like the way Wayside Music describes it as combining the tune oriented work of Hopper and Gowen with the free leanings of Dean.

"Circle Line" is a Hopper composition and he makes his presence known on bass during the latter half of this track. The first half opens with smooth sax melodies that are lazily played. Keys and light drums add to the sound as the sax gets a little dissonant. Pyle becomes more active as well. "A.W.O.L." is the only song that was composed by the whole group. Bass and drums lead the way as sax and keys jump in and out of the proceedings. Dissonant sounds 2 minutes in without any melody. It becomes experimental for a while as bass, sax, drums and keys all start to slowly break out after 5 minutes.There is so much going on as these intricate sounds continue. Amazing ! "Petit 3's" is a Gowen tune. Sax is prominant until a minute in when keys take over. Sax is back 3 minutes in as Pyle works his magic on the drums.

"Terra Nova" is the longest song and a Dean composition. It's darker sounding with sax with liquid keys. Drums and keys take over 3 minutes in. Sax is back a minute later and it gets dissonant at times.The darker sounds from the intro are back after 8 minutes as Pyle pounds away. "Fara" opens with trumpet from guest Marc Charig (SOFT MACHINE, KING CRIMSON and Robert Wyatt solo etc.) as drums and keys help out. Sax and bass then join in on this reserved tune.The trumpet after 4 minutes becomes a little loud and noisy. Sax is back. "Short Hand" is another Gowen tune.This one is uptempo with a rhythm that starts and stops.Some crazy sax comes in as drums are all over the place. Dean and Pyle just let it all hang out until 2 1/2 minutes in when the melody from the intro returns. Cool tune.

Incredibly well played."A.W.O.L." is my favourite tune. Funny but I enjoyed listening to the musicians playing more than actually enjoying the music. Well i'm half way there.3.5 stars rounded up because of the legends involved.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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