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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 984 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars The Soft Machine's third release is chock full of creativity even if it isn't something I turn to frequently.

"Facelift" The epic album begins with a volley of weird noises and an array of seemingly random sounds. It's really chaotic, and of course nothing I particularly care to subject myself to. After about five minutes, though, those sounds morph into something completely different, an instrumental full of elements of jazz and brass instruments. Robert Wyatt's drumming is subdued, held back in the mix and muffled, which I find compliments the sound really well. Hugh Hopper's bass locks into funky groove for most of the piece and pushes the music along. There's some odd backmasking at the end of the piece, which makes me think of what The Mars Volta would be doing on Frances the Mute.

"Slightly All the Time" The beautiful harmonies and Hopper's thudding bass give way to light drumming and perfect saxophone playing that reminds me of "Cannonball Adderly" and John Coltrane on Miles Davis's Kind of Blue every time. The sudden rhythm change almost six minutes in that opens the door to the lovely flute always catches me by surprise, and is a welcome shift in direction. The next segment has the piano hammering out chords in a 9/4 time signature as the saxophone returns. The loudest and strangest face of the piece eventually gives way to a sultrier jazz sound with a cool rhythm section, an almost "breathing" organ, and a mournful sax over all of it. The last few minutes suddenly pick things up, Hopper leading the way with his exquisite bass grooves.

"Moon in June" Wyatt uses his angelic voice on this lengthy song only, sounding great right from the start. Sometimes a little grit slips in, adding texture to his performance. The organ is another brilliant aspect of this song, carrying the chords along throughout most of the piece. Wyatt's drumming is likewise fantastic, full of nuances to fill out the sound. The fuzzy bass during the main instrumental section adds another dimension to an already very intriguing song. A more chaotic section builds until a quite respite of satisfying music. The most unconventional part of the song is the end, with choppy organ, wild electric violin, and some strange engineering- the bass sounds like it's being sonically manipulated, being dragged down and back up again. It's a purely hypnotic ending.

"Out-Bloody-Rageous" The beginning of this fourth and final track is a gorgeous blend of keyboard sounds that work around each other like a myriad of colorful butterflies dancing in the spring breeze. The jazz basis doesn't remain gone for long, though, as an upbeat bass and drum pattern enter, over which a brass theme plays. Hopper gets a short bass solo, but soon the music is cut abruptly, as a flowing, atmospheric section hails a more classical sounding piano piece, which welcomes back the other instruments that eventually play in a steady 5/8 time signature. Odder time signatures follow as the piece evolves. The flighty and whimsical electronic sounds that began this piece end it.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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