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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.22 | 971 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sometimes, things just need a few bats-at before you're finally able to understand; this Soft Machine album is one of those things. Although listed in the Cantebury section of the archives, THIRD leans moreso in the jazz-fusion direction. This is rough for those that are expecting soft, delicate melodies only to wind up with crazy freeform, halfway avant jazzy structures.

The wild card is Mike Ratledge's Lowrey organ through a fuzzbox which is what might lead you to believe that gnats went loose in the studio. ''Facelift'' is where this instrument is used to its fullest potential. The lineup and sound remind me of the jazz-rockers Nucleus minus Ian Carr (trumpet) and Chris Spedding (guitar).

THIRD is equidistant from Zappa's careful compositions, Davis's more embryonic approach and avant-garde free jazz. ''Facelift'' sounds like a live cut to these ears that has fair amounts of random doodling and Ratledge soloing. Only ''Out-Bloody-Rageous'' continues the freeform- ity, but also injects copius amounts of psychedelia and sax-heavy fusion.

THIRD also gets some notoriety for being one of the those albums to have four tracks across four vinyl sides (this is before Yes tried that tactic). The playing and idealising can lead to great ideas like the psych workout of the last track or the first half of ''Slightly All the Time''. Conversely, there is a fair amount of padding like the middle of ''Moon in June''.

It's one of the fusion classic albums along with albums like HOT RATS and BITCHES BREW. The only Cantebury moment here is the beginning of ''Moon in June'' featuring Robert Wyatt singing (rather beautifully). If long fusion excursions drive you nuts, you might want to skip this album. As for me, I'm actually going to give in to objectivity and not make the same rating mistake as I did on BITCHES BREW.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |


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