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The Soft Machine - Volume Two CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.03 | 606 ratings

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5 stars Archetypical.

With each album, the Softs changed their sound considerably. Here they develop two long suites, Rhyvmic Melodies on the first side, and (mostly) Esther's Nose Job on the second side, with each formed by fusing otherwise disparate songs together. These (especially Esther's Nose Job) made up key parts of their live set in the early 70s. The more pop-based influences that Kevin Ayers brought to the band are receding here after Ayers departure, although Wyatt sings throughout the album (so it is still a vocal-based rock album), and Hugh Hopper on bass brings a more experimental and jazzy focus to the music (Brian Hopper, brother of Hugh, adds multiple saxophones for additional effect). The result is an iconic album, highly original, really stamped by all three members but particularly by Wyatt's presence. This music is still a mile away from what they would put on their next album ('Third'), but it is also almost a mile away from their debut, containing the seeds of their simultaneously structured and highly improvised compositions and live sets to follow. The Softs would never return to this spot, and no other band would either. Yet, this album I think more than any other contains the musical seed for what might be called the Canterbury-scene sound (perhaps together with Caravan's second and third albums). While not as amazing (in my opinion) as "Third" (which I think is still unparalleled, but very different), this is a must-have album. Absolutely essential, both musically and in terms of its historical importance. I give it 9.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 5 PA stars.

Walkscore | 5/5 |


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