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The Soft Machine - Drop CD (album) cover

DROP

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

3.06 | 24 ratings

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snobb
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This live album is archive recording,released in 2009 only,but chronologically its place is between Fourth and Fifth studio albums.Fourth was excellent jazz fusion release,but without traces of band's early psychedelic rock sound and vocals compositions what initiated Robert Wyatt departure.

Phil Howard was a drummer who changed Robert Wyatt in band. His participation was quite short and are recorded only on a part of Fifth studio album. "Drop" is very interesting album in sense it's a excellent evidence what was the band with Phil Howard as drummer playing live.

The material recorded on this album (played during band's German tour,fall 1971)is mostly new compositions,later released on Fifth studio album. It's interesting, that on Fifth only three first songs are recorded with Phil Howard (all them are presented on "Drop" as well), other songs are recorded with band's new drummer John Marshall(after Phil Howard was resigned). Almost all of them are presented on "Drop" and played by Phil Howard ,so one can compare the difference.

Robert Wyatt was a founding Soft Machine member,very characteristic vocalist,original drummer and charismatic figure,After release of Fourth when he left the band,Soft Machine will never be same band as before. His drumming manner had its roots in rock tradition still, Phil Howard changing him showed on this release how different band could sound with free-jazz rooted drummer.

"Drop" is most free-jazz oriented Soft Machine album ever,it sounds quite different from their other works (what doesn't mean better or worth,just different).Possibly most radical difference with just few months before this concert recorded Fourt's music is Phil Howard became one of central figure on this album. His drumming manner is very different from Wyatt's,but even bigger difference is he isn't a member of team, he's more soloing artist there. Possibly for the first time in their history Soft Machine sounds not like a band,but more like a team of soloists,playing free jazz compositions with slight rock flavor. Drumming is complex,thunder-like heavy and often not very connected with rest of the music.Other space is filled by plenty of short Dean's sax solos (and even few electric piano ones)and Ratledge's keyboards passages.Hugh Hopper's bass are mostly on back-up,giving some structure to quite chaotic music though.

This release is really an interesting one for every Soft Machine fan - it's a rare evidence what could happen after Wyatt departure if band would chose different direction. Quite bulky album with tension in music,some unusual but sometimes a bit raw moments isn't best purchase for more casual listener though.All in all, "Drop" has it's important place between bunch of band's archive live releases as their most free-jazz oriented album ever.

snobb | 3/5 |

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