Soft Machine
The Soft Machine


4.0
excellent

Review

by ZIG USER (25 Reviews)
May 4th, 2023 | 11 replies


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Canterbury sound

Produced by Chas Chandler and Tom Wilson, this is the debut album of one of the two groups that emerged after the demise of The Wilde Flowers, and the beginning of a long and prosperous transformation that involved many subtle changes and styles. Mainly due to the frequent change of musicians, making it a very important album as the starting point of Soft Machine, a remarkable and influential band that found its name in a novel by William S. Burroughs. As with all Soft Machine albums, it is important to mention the band members at the time: Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals, Mike Ratledge on keyboards, and Kevin Ayers on bass and vocals. This particular line-up, combined with the cultural environment in which the album was recorded, resulted in a form of Canterbury psychedelic rock that draws influences from pop, as it incorporates traditional music formats: short duration and lyrics-oriented music.

It's mainly led by drums and vocals, while the bass and keyboard seem to simply accompany Wyatt's rhythms and melodies. It has a progressive and particularly very complex Canterbury sound, which later many groups were influenced by. The long key solos are ever present in the band's history due to Mike Ratledge's influence, even on the debut album, which has a strong lyrical feeling and more structured compared to the rest of the music that Soft Machine developed.

Furthermore, the many experimental snippets, sound collages and purely instrumental passages that the band managed to spread throughout this album give a rather childish and uninteresting impression, especially when compared to the effects that had been achieved a year earlier by their friends and colleagues Pink Floyd on "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn".

All in all, "The Soft Machine" is really good, but the overall sound doesn't do these musicians justice, and at times can end up being a bit boring. Most of the tracks were recorded live with very few overdubs. Likewise, the sound is not as exciting as a live recording. Kevin Ayers once said that this album could have been much better, if the sound engineer had been interested in the project. After all, this is a very important album, not only because it was one of the starting points for prog-rock, with a jazz approach, like all the Canterbury bands, but it was also the birth of a band that would explore new ground and push various boundaries, even if it remains relatively unknown.



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user ratings (183)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
May 4th 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

perhaps, the first Canterbury record ?

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2023


18997 Comments


My dad loved these guys, he used to say they were one of the best psychedelic bands ever. I listened to a couple of early albums but honestly I don't remember much beyond the brass, I think they had a saxophonist

Jethro42
May 4th 2023


18281 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If it's the first Canterbury album, it increases its value quite a bit. I might bump it up to a 4 if it's the case. Nice review, ZIG. Cool you named Robert Wyatt.

Zig
May 5th 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@TheNotrap, by the Third record they went into jazz fusion and did a couple of works with sax.

Demon of the Fall
May 5th 2023


34877 Comments


Nice. These guys are on my radar (Third in particular). Been listening to Robert Wyatt's 'Rock Bottom' recently and it's awesome. I'm expecting something very different here / there (Third). I may also check this, even if the general idea of it doesn't appeal to me as much.

Zig
May 5th 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wyatt's Rock Bottom is a very solid 5. one of my all time favs.

this's worth checking, a very interesting psychedelic jazz rock. go for it, of the Fall.

Zig
May 5th 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thnks, Jethro!

protokute
May 7th 2023


2658 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

not a fan

e210013
May 8th 2023


5311 Comments


Nice to see a review of this great band here. This is one of the best canterbury prog acts.
Bom trabalho amigo. Pos.

parksungjoon
July 21st 2023


47235 Comments


wow this didnt hav a review?

parksungjoon
July 21st 2023


47235 Comments


my mask is my master, the trumpeter weeps
but his voice is so weak as he speaks from his sleep



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