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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

4.20 | 1025 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Undoubtedly Soft Machine's masterpiece, THIRD(1970) saw the group move further away from their psychedelic-pop roots and deep into instrumental, jazz-fusion territory. Eschewing vocals(apart from some brief 'la-la-la'-ing), THIRD was a radical departure for this most radical of groups, with the album featuring just four, lengthy tracks that showcased the group's dynamic interplay and their willingness to experiment and push the boundaries of rock, pop and jazz as far as they could. For the recording of THIRD, the line-up had settled down to a five-piece, with Robert Wyatt(drums, percussion, vocals), Hugh Hopper(bass), Mike Ratledge(organ, piano), Elton Dean(sax) and Lyn Dobson(sax, flute) augmented by guest musicians Nick Evans(trombone), Rab Spall(electric violin) and Jimmy Hastings(flute, clarinet). Despite tensions with the group - Wyatt wanted to maintain a more 'pop' outlook; the rest were jazz freaks - the old cliche of 'conflict-sparks-creativity' spurred the musicians on. Ths eclectic, scattershot and sometimes wittily humourous songs of the group's previous two albums, THE SOFT MACHINE(1968) and VOLUME 2(1969) gave way to a scintillating, late-night fusion odyssey filled with breathtaking musicianship and ethereal soundscapes. All evidence of the group's poppier past had been wiped away, this move influenced no doubt by the furious jazz-rock experiments of Miles Davis and his ground-breaking 1969 album BITCHES BREW As a result, THIRD would bring Soft Machine into line with the new fusion movement that had sprung up during the late 1960's, and, from 1970 onwards the band wandered deeper and deeper into an almost avant-garde jazz style, playing their gigs not at the usual 'rock' venues but at prestigious places such as the Royal Albert Hall. Soft Machines first two albums were wonderful amalgamations of late-sixties psych-pop, jazz edges and canterbury-style rock. However, with THIRD, the band created an awesome double-album that let the music speak for itself. Each piece, whether it be the opening track 'Facelift'(which was recorded live at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon), the album's strongest track 'Slightly All The Time' or the album-closer 'Out-Bloody-Rageous', resonates with a beautifully-crafted sound-and-style that uniquely merges the worlds of rock and jazz. Soft Machines reputation was built on immaculate musicianship, and in chasing the jazz ahead of the rock allowed themselves the full scope of their own impressive abilities. As both a jazz-fusion album and a progressive rock piece THIRD is, simply put, a genuine masterpiece.
stefro | 5/5 |


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