Monday, January 29, 2018

Soft Machine - 1971-03-15, Het Turfschip, Breda, Netherlands

Soft Machine and fan
Soft Machine's one of those bands I think people might know about, but not really know the music of. I know I'm hardly an expert on them. I just have a few bootlegs and I like them.

Today's share comes from early 1971, when Soft Machine was touring Europe. I believe Robert Wyatt was still drumming for them, but by this point Kevin Ayers and Daevid Allen were long gone. So what started as a sorta hippie band had quietly changed into a progressive rock/jazz fusion quartet, one who played long jams and was one of the first groups to really push ahead with a guitar-less lineup and long, complex jams .

After all, around this time ELP was just getting going, while King Crimson was moving forward as Fripp's baby; Mahavishnu Orchestra's John McLaughlin was his turning amps up to 10 and even Miles Davis was using guitars all over his records. Really, the only other guitar-absent group of note at the same time coming to mind is Weather Report, and I guess they're a good comparison for Soft Machine. So is Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention: plenty of these long jams remind me of when the Mothers would stretch out on songs like "King Kong," too.

But Soft Machine was a different group: they didn't have the same chops as Wayne Shorter, nor the sense of irony that infused Zappa's music. Which isn't a bad thing: I like this tape a bunch. It's just different. And yet, the band would go though major changes within a year, firing Wyatt and bringing in more electric instruments. Which makes this a nice snapshot of a short-lived era. Hope you enjoy.


M. Milner said...
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M. Milner said...

Soft Machine 1971: