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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.20 | 1167 ratings

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4 stars With each release Soft Machine's sound showed signs of evolution.The first two Soft Machine release's were combinations of psychedelic rock & jazz,which was soon to become jazz fusion or more commonly acknowledged with Soft Machine,the Canterbury Scene. Both of which Soft Machine were pioneers.

But Soft Machine's third is by far their most drastic change and perhaps their most defining album.The leap from their Second to Third saw huge change into their sound.Vocals appeared less frequently and instrumentals dominated their albums with complex arrangements,more experimental recording techniques,new instrumentation & a new member to the band (Elton Dean).Other notable differences were the amount of songs and their length in this case four tracks,all of with nearly 20 minutes in length.Which clearly shows Soft Machine weren't looking for mass acceptance or commercial success.Their is not doubt a huge free jazz influence which plays a prominent part through their long jams and improvisations most notably the addition Elton Dean and his Alto Saxophone & incredible solo's is crucial to their sound.Other musicians who recorded on this album but weren't full time members include Lyn Dobson on Soprano Sax & Flute,Jimmy Hastings also on Flute & Clairnet.With such amounts of instrumentation allows Soft Machine to take lengthy solos and create intriguing harmony's without the feeling of repetition.

The first track "facelift" is perhaps their most radical with Mike Ratledge & Robert Wyatt playing a long erratic discordant introduction with their organs soaked in effects before leading into a complex theme with horn harmony's reminiscent of Ornette Coleman then leaping into an upbeat main theme,which becomes the songs focal point for impressive solos by Ratledge & others.It's also features feedback & reverse tapes loops played at various speeds over an already complex arrangement and ends with the main theme slowed down to half the speed.The whole album is certainly one hell of trip with sections of songs recorded live and others within the studio really explains its unpredictability and chaos.This is perhaps why the album doesn't lack in energy and why the musicianship is excellent.Robert Wyatt only vocal performance on the album with third song "Moon In June" acts as the bridge between Soft Machine's second and Third.Which is something that could of been on albums before,though still upbeat it brings a little calmer edge to the album in comparison to the rest of the album allowing the listener time to recuperate and prepare for the next ride.

Another highlight performance is bassist Huge Hopper whom with such crazy sounds & arrangements Huge really holds each song together & provides a solid rhythm section and perhaps the only sound of sanity in the album.

Certainly one of Prog Rock's,Fusion's,Canterbury's most important albums and the beginning of Soft Machine's venture into deeper jazz territory.Check it out at all costs.

mrcozdude | 4/5 |


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