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The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.96 | 670 ratings

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4 stars I think Soft Machine only belongs to the Canterbury scene because of the territorial fact and the link to The Wilde Flowers, otherwise, there isn't much that can be said about them to be fit into the likes of Caravan and Hatfield And The North, and their debut only proves my point. The music from The Soft Machine has more in common with the music of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, but with a bigger pop sensibility and more matter-of-fact lyrics.

This is a very important record, it's the beginning of a band that would proceed to break a lot of new ground and push several boundaries, even if remaining relatively unknown, and it's excellent as a debut record, because even if the production leaves a lot to be desired, the ideas and urge to make new music are already fully developed into a cohesive whole. And they're not afraid to be different. Diversity is the world of the day, it's all psychedelic, but the kind of psychedelia changes from tune to tune. In the package there are freakout jams ("Joy Of A Toy", "So Boot If At All"), psychedelic pop ("Save Yourself", "A Certain Kind", "Why Are We Sleeping?"), avant-garde psychedelia ("Plus Belle Qu'une Poubelle", "Box 25/4 Lid"), mantraic chants ("Hope For Happiness", "We Did It Again") and absurdist dadaism ("Why Am I So Short?") gelling perfectly even if it sounds unconceivable.

And the main elements are all in place: Robert Wyatt's sincere voice and paranoid drumming, and Mike Ratledge's mad fuzz organ, with only Kevin Ayers as a complete misfit, but only in retrospect since he would soon leave to pursue an insular solo career. But bassist Hugh Hopper is already adding some new blood and so is his brother Brian on the saxophone.

Right from the beginning Soft Machine was a weird band and a strangely seductive one at that, and while it would be a stretch to say that they didn't need to release anything after this record, this surely maintains a golden place in their discography.

JackFloyd | 4/5 |


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