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The Soft Machine - Land Of Cockayne CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.01 | 142 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars The tenth and final studio album - and the group's only official release of the 1980's - 'Land Of Cockayne' finds Soft Machine very much at the end of the line, creatively-exhausted and without a single original member in sight. Issued in 1981, 'Land Of Cockayne' finds ex-Nucleus member Karl Jenkins now taking charge, though by now all links to the group's Canterbury-forged jazz-fusion past have been more-or-less extinguished in favour of a slick new studio-polished approach that has more in common with The Alan Parsons Project than it does with Miles Davis. Indeed, 'Land Of Cockayne' has precious little in common with virtually all of Soft Machine's previous efforts, all ten of this album's compositions written and composed solely by Jenkins who, wrongly-or- rightly, seems intent on dragging his group kicking-and-screaming into the new decade. The results, then, are more than a little disconcerting, with the major bone of contention being that this sounds like a completely different group. Aided by a veritable war-chest of musical talent - 'Land Of Cockayne' features contributions from the likes of Jack Bruce(Cream), Allan Holdsworth(UK) and Dick Morrissey(If)to name but a few - 'Land Of Cockayne' is certainly not without it's moments, yet its all a far cry from the heady peaks of 'Third' and 'Six' and undoubtedly the group's weakest overall release. Some group's simply cannot transcend the era of their own conception and the suspicion remains that maybe Soft Machine simply weren't meant for the 1980's, their dense, hazy, psych-drenched fusion sound a product of a different time. With Disco, post-punk and synth-pop now the order the day, Soft Machine were all used up by 1981, with Jenkins best intentions merely serving to extend a musical lifeline that has nothing more to give. That said, 'Land Of Cockayne' is still far better than it ought to be - both album opener 'Over 'n' Above' and the clipped beats of 'Hot Biscuit Slim' manage to impress - yet Soft Machine's swansong still doesn't provide the finishing touch they truly deserved. Although their overall legacy remains unaffected - the first nine albums are all, in the own way, rather brilliant - album number ten provides a disappointing end to an otherwise fabulous career. STEFAN TURNER,

stefro | 2/5 |


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