SOFT MACHINE

Fusion / Jazz Related Rock / Post-Fusion Contemporary / Avant-Garde Jazz • United Kingdom
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Soft Machine were never a commercial enterprise and indeed still remain unknown even to many listeners who came of age during the late '60s and early ‘70s, when the group was at its peak. In their own way, however, they were one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones. One of the original British psychedelic groups, they were also instrumental in the birth of both progressive rock and jazz-rock. They were also the central foundation of the family tree of the "Canterbury Scene" of British progressive rock acts, a movement that also included Caravan, Gong, Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, not to mention the distinguished pop music careers of founding members Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers and the jazz and jazz-rock explorations of saxophonist Elton Dean and bassist Hugh Hopper.

Considering their well-known experimental and avant-garde
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5cd Original Album Classics (Third/F Ourth/Fifth/Six/Seven)5cd Original Album Classics (Third/F Ourth/Fifth/Six/Seven)
Box set
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2011
$11.70
$46.10 (used)
The Soft Machine Volume Two (CLEAR VINYL)The Soft Machine Volume Two (CLEAR VINYL)
Sundazed Music Inc. 2019
$15.02
$8.93 (used)
ThirdThird
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2014
$25.99
$25.98 (used)
Harvest Albums 1975-1978: Remastered Boxset EditionHarvest Albums 1975-1978: Remastered Boxset Edition
Esoteric 2019
$17.86
$25.03 (used)
Alive & Well Recorded in ParisAlive & Well Recorded in Paris
Esoteric 2010
$12.77
$11.42 (used)
Volumes One & TwoVolumes One & Two
Big Beat Uk 2004
$11.35
$8.70 (used)
BundlesBundles
Remastered
Esoteric 2010
$10.87
$18.45 (used)
Hidden DetailsHidden Details
Dyad 2018
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$16.21 (used)
SoftsSofts
Remastered
Esoteric 2010
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Land of CockayneLand of Cockayne
Esoteric 2010
$17.84
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SOFT MACHINE Discography

SOFT MACHINE albums / top albums

SOFT MACHINE The Soft Machine album cover 4.06 | 23 ratings
The Soft Machine
Jazz Related Rock 1968
SOFT MACHINE Volume Two album cover 3.88 | 23 ratings
Volume Two
Jazz Related Rock 1969
SOFT MACHINE Third album cover 4.64 | 55 ratings
Third
Jazz Related Rock 1970
SOFT MACHINE Fourth album cover 3.39 | 28 ratings
Fourth
Fusion 1971
SOFT MACHINE Fifth album cover 3.07 | 18 ratings
Fifth
Fusion 1972
SOFT MACHINE Seven album cover 3.24 | 14 ratings
Seven
Fusion 1973
SOFT MACHINE Bundles album cover 3.62 | 21 ratings
Bundles
Fusion 1975
SOFT MACHINE Softs album cover 2.76 | 15 ratings
Softs
Jazz Related Rock 1976
SOFT MACHINE Land of Cockayne album cover 2.13 | 7 ratings
Land of Cockayne
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1981
SOFT MACHINE Hidden Details album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Hidden Details
Fusion 2018

SOFT MACHINE EPs & splits

SOFT MACHINE Soft Machine / Gong album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Soft Machine / Gong
Jazz Related Rock 1971

SOFT MACHINE live albums

SOFT MACHINE Six album cover 3.79 | 15 ratings
Six
Fusion 1973
SOFT MACHINE Alive And Well Recorded In Paris album cover 2.25 | 5 ratings
Alive And Well Recorded In Paris
Fusion 1978
SOFT MACHINE Live at the Proms 1970 album cover 2.85 | 4 ratings
Live at the Proms 1970
Jazz Related Rock 1988
SOFT MACHINE The Peel Sessions album cover 4.39 | 4 ratings
The Peel Sessions
Fusion 1990
SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert album cover 3.83 | 3 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert
Fusion 1993
SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert 1972 (aka Softstage - BBC In Concert 1972) album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert 1972 (aka Softstage - BBC In Concert 1972)
Fusion 1994
SOFT MACHINE Live in France (aka Live In Paris May 2nd, 1972) album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
Live in France (aka Live In Paris May 2nd, 1972)
Fusion 1995
SOFT MACHINE Live at the Paradiso 1969 album cover 3.46 | 4 ratings
Live at the Paradiso 1969
Jazz Related Rock 1995
SOFT MACHINE Live 1970 album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Live 1970
Jazz Related Rock 1998
SOFT MACHINE Virtually album cover 3.54 | 6 ratings
Virtually
Fusion 1998
SOFT MACHINE Noisette album cover 3.69 | 9 ratings
Noisette
Jazz Related Rock 2000
SOFT MACHINE Backwards album cover 2.50 | 5 ratings
Backwards
Jazz Related Rock 2002
SOFT MACHINE Facelift album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Facelift
Jazz Related Rock 2002
SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1967-1971 album cover 4.03 | 8 ratings
BBC Radio 1967-1971
Fusion 2003
SOFT MACHINE BBC Radio 1971-1974 album cover 3.50 | 4 ratings
BBC Radio 1971-1974
Fusion 2003
SOFT MACHINE Somewhere in Soho (aka Soft Machine At Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club) album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Somewhere in Soho (aka Soft Machine At Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club)
Fusion 2004
SOFT MACHINE Breda Reactor (aka Live At Het Turfschip, Netherlands, 31 January 1970) album cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
Breda Reactor (aka Live At Het Turfschip, Netherlands, 31 January 1970)
Fusion 2004
SOFT MACHINE Live In Paris album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Paris
Fusion 2004
SOFT MACHINE British Tour '75 album cover 3.50 | 4 ratings
British Tour '75
Fusion 2005
SOFT MACHINE Grides album cover 4.62 | 11 ratings
Grides
Jazz Related Rock 2006
SOFT MACHINE Middle Earth Masters album cover 3.25 | 4 ratings
Middle Earth Masters
Jazz Related Rock 2006
SOFT MACHINE Floating World Live album cover 2.86 | 5 ratings
Floating World Live
Fusion 2006
SOFT MACHINE Live At Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971 album cover 3.52 | 5 ratings
Live At Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971
Fusion 2009
SOFT MACHINE Drop album cover 2.38 | 6 ratings
Drop
Avant-Garde Jazz 2009
SOFT MACHINE NDR Jazz Workshop album cover 3.98 | 5 ratings
NDR Jazz Workshop
Fusion 2010
SOFT MACHINE Switzerland 1974 album cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
Switzerland 1974
Fusion 2015

SOFT MACHINE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

SOFT MACHINE Face and Place Vol. 7 (aka Jet-Propelled Photographs aka At the Beginning aka Shooting at the Moon,etc) album cover 2.33 | 4 ratings
Face and Place Vol. 7 (aka Jet-Propelled Photographs aka At the Beginning aka Shooting at the Moon,etc)
Jazz Related Rock 1972

SOFT MACHINE re-issues & compilations

SOFT MACHINE The Soft Machine album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Soft Machine
Jazz Related Rock 1969
SOFT MACHINE The Soft Machine(aka Architects of Space Time aka Vol.1 &2) album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
The Soft Machine(aka Architects of Space Time aka Vol.1 &2)
Jazz Related Rock 1973
SOFT MACHINE Triple Echo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Triple Echo
Jazz Related Rock 1977
SOFT MACHINE The Untouchable album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Untouchable
Fusion 1990
SOFT MACHINE Rubber Riff (aka De Wolfe Sessions) album cover 1.19 | 4 ratings
Rubber Riff (aka De Wolfe Sessions)
Fusion 1994
SOFT MACHINE The Best Of Soft Machine-The Harvest Years album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Soft Machine-The Harvest Years
Jazz Related Rock 1995
SOFT MACHINE Spaced album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Spaced
Fusion 1996
SOFT MACHINE Fourth / Fifth album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Fourth / Fifth
Fusion 1999
SOFT MACHINE Man in a Deaf Corner: Anthology 63-70 album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Man in a Deaf Corner: Anthology 63-70
Fusion 2001
SOFT MACHINE Turns On Volume 1 album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Turns On Volume 1
Jazz Related Rock 2001
SOFT MACHINE Turns On Volume 2 album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Turns On Volume 2
Jazz Related Rock 2001
SOFT MACHINE Kings of Canterbury album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kings of Canterbury
Jazz Related Rock 2003
SOFT MACHINE Six / Seven album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Six / Seven
Fusion 2004
SOFT MACHINE Out-Bloody-Rageous: An Anthology 1967-1973 album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Out-Bloody-Rageous: An Anthology 1967-1973
Fusion 2005
SOFT MACHINE Original Album Classics album cover 2.55 | 2 ratings
Original Album Classics
Jazz Related Rock 2010
SOFT MACHINE Tales of Taliesin: The EMI Years Anthology 1975-1981 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Tales of Taliesin: The EMI Years Anthology 1975-1981
Fusion 2011

SOFT MACHINE singles (1)

.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Love Makes Sweet Music
Jazz Related Rock 1967

SOFT MACHINE movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.00 | 1 ratings
Alive in Paris 1970
Jazz Related Rock 2008

SOFT MACHINE Reviews

SOFT MACHINE Hidden Details

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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kev rowland
There can be few British bands that can say that they have had as much impact on music as the mighty Softs, and here a mere 37 years after their last studio album they are back with a new one. Originally formed in 1966, with their debut album in 1968, they have continued to be at the cutting edge of fusion and have had some incredible musicians pass through their ranks. The band officially disbanded in 1978, then reformed briefly in 1981 and then 1984 before returning as Soft Ware in 1999, which in turn became Soft Works, before morphing into Soft Machine Legacy in 2004, and then at the end of 2015 they decided to drop the word “Legacy”. But given that guitarist John Etheridge, bassist Roy Babbington and drummer John Marshall were all in the same line-up(s) in the Seventies, they have a more than valid claim to the name. The only member of the band who wasn’t involved back then is Theo Travis, who provides sax, flute and Fender Rhodes. But, he joined Soft Machine Legacy as long ago as 2006, when he replaced Elton Dean after he had passed away.

Anyone who admits to enjoying Canterbury progressive rock or fusion will have multiple Soft Machine albums in their collection, and this one fits right in. John Etheridge is an incredible guitarist, and it takes someone very special indeed to step into the shoes of Allan Holdsworth, not once but twice. He is lyrical, dramatic, restrained yet over the top, simple yet complex, allowing the music to take him where it will. Every musician is an absolute master of his craft, and they push the envelope in so many ways. Jazz, prog, fusion, call it whatever you like but this is intricately crafted music that is both awe inspiring yet inviting, eclectic yet so very easy to get inside of, and the more time spent with it the greater the rewards. Some of these guys are nearly 80 years old now, yet show no sign at all of slowing down. This is an essential purchase.

SOFT MACHINE Hidden Details

Album · 2018 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Its nice to see the longest running act in the world of jazz-rock fusion is still at it, but its even nicer hearing them operating at a creative peak more similar to their early years. I don’t know if this is a live in the studio performance, but it sounds like one. The songs naturally segue way into each other, and there is no evidence of over dubs as every performer is quite clearly in the moment and interacting with their band mates. At this point in their career, Soft Machine are able to cover all the different phases of their past, particularly their jazzy horn driven music of the early 70s, and their more muscular guitar driven jazz-rock of the mid-70s. What’s particularly notable about the current lineup is that they often break things down so that only one or two people are carefully interacting and taking their time building unique sounds and melodies. These frequent changes in ensemble makeup and texture help make “Hidden Details” the interesting listen that it is.

As mentioned earlier, the many styles of Soft Machine are on display here. There are a couple of lengthy funky rock numbers for those who seek the guitar shredding of Chris Etheridge. Theo Travis shines on flute on some up tempo jazz, and on “Life on Bridges”, the whole band goes off on a noisy free improv. “Heart Off Guard” and “Broken Hill” contain moments of pure pastoral melody, and elsewhere they re-visit Soft Machine’s classic minimalist tributes to Terry Riley. There are a couple tracks from previous Soft albums, but this band clearly puts their own stamp on those cuts. The album closes on a good note with the floating looped sounds of Travis' flute. “Hidden Details” is one of the better Soft Machine albums to come out in a while, In particular, Theo Travis on woodwinds and keyboards seems to be in touch with those elements that constituted some of this band’s best music.

SOFT MACHINE Fourth

Album · 1971 · Fusion
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ALotOfBottle
In October of 1970, Soft Machine started recording their fourth studio album. Their previous, two-disc release, Third , contained four long epics, each with its distinctive flavor. Robert Wyatt's piece, 'Moon In June', which was the only vocal track on the album, clearly showing his own musical vision, quite different from one of his band-mates. In fact, on his first solo album, The End of an Ear, Wyatt described himself as an "Out of work pop singer currently on drums with Soft Machine". The jazz-fusion oriented path Soft Machine had taken undoubtedly did not please his musical sensibilities. For their upcoming album, the group invited a double-bass player, Roy Babbington, who had previously played with Keith Tippet. A horn section, different from the one on Third, was also added, consisting of Alan Skidmore on tenor saxophone, Jimmy Hastings on alto flute and bass clarinet, Nick Evans on trombone, and Mark Charig on cornet. Fourth was released in early 1971 and was followed by Robert Wyatt's departure from the band.

Soft Machine's style on Fourth may appear as radical compared their first two works from 1968 and 1969, but is in fact merely a natural development they made from Third. The recruitment of a double-bass player, however, is a breakthrough and a turning point in the band's career. This might be interpreted as a definitive cut-off from rock. Yes, they probably still could rock out, but they were by no means a rock band anymore. The group creates a unique blend of elements of Miles Davis' mid-late sixties post-bop, free jazz of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Charles Mingus, and ambient music, that could be connected with pioneering bands such as Popol Vuh. Fourth also has a one-of-a-kind, inexplicable flavor that indicates that Soft Machine is a European outfit and differentiates them from contemporary groups from the United States. Similarly to Third, Fourth is largely focused on improvisation, therefore showcasing the instrumentalism of the musicians.

The newly-recruited horn section helps the band in reaching a certain amount of versatility in their sound. Although Elton Dean's alto saxophone and saxello is still dominant in the band's soundscapes, they are now enriched with sounds of a flute, a trombone, a cornet, and a tenor sax. Most often, these instruments play together, creating an interesting 'metal wall' of horn sounds, but solo parts on each of them are not uncommon. Mike Ratledge's keyboard rig is extended with a Hohner pianet, which the virtuoso finds particularly useful on parts, where strong rhythmical background is needed. His signature fuzzed-out Lowrey organ sound, which is one of the few common elements between Soft Machines debut and Fourth, plays an important role on his break-neck speed solos. With a double-bass player onboard, Hugh Hopper's contribution might seem limited, but the bassist's unique style and bass timbre is still crucial to Machine's sound. Robert Wyatt, who quite rightfully might not have been happy with a direction his band took, proves how much of a versatile drummer he was with his accurate and precise drumming.

Side one of Fourth is occupied by three tracks. The work starts with Ratledge's composition 'Teeth'. It starts out with a complex theme, which smoothly dissolves into a jam (which at parts reminds me of 'Hope For Happiness' from Soft Machine's debut). Then, we are approached by Hopper's piece 'Kings and Queens', which despite following a simple structure is one of the most memorable tracks from the album with a slightly gloomy, melancholic feel. Side one is closed with 'Fletcher's Blemish', a loud, atonal, horn-driven jam that lies just on the border of being classified as free-jazz and fusion. Side two comprises Hugh Hopper's four-part suite 'Virtually'. Part 1 is kept in a traditional jazz feel and is based on improvisation. Part 2 builds up tension, which leads to an atonal jam with Elton Dean's saxophone in the foreground. Part 3 opens with dissonant noises achieved by manipulating instruments with studio equipment on dreamy electronic ambient basis. Part 4 is basically an extension of Part 3 with smooth passages fading until the end of the album.

Fourth marks the end of Soft Machine's Canterbury scene years and begins what is known as group's 'classic' era as a jazz-fusion act. The music on the album might not be very compelling, at least in my book, but is a much-needed listen and is crucial to the development English jazz to come. A lot of the times, one will find their thoughts drifting far away from the music, which might be a testimony of its' well, soporific aspect. The album is more than decent in its own right, but is rather stodgy, insignificant, and unmemorable at the same time. No wonder why Robert Wyatt left Soft Machine. However, it is recommended to listen to the album and forge your own opinion.

SOFT MACHINE Third

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Modrigue
A masterpiece of progressive jazz/rock

From start to end, this album is an absolute killer. Every single second is just excellent, the listener cannot lose his attention on the music. Last one with Robert Wyatt, "Third" is by far SOFT MACHINE's best offering. With four pieces of approximately 20 minutes each, mainly instrumental, the musicians push back the frontiers of space modal jazz rock far beyond.

The record opens with the live song "Facelift" and its crazy sonic experimental deflagrations. A disturbing atmosphere takes place to let the energetic and catchy jazzy theme suddenly explode. The ambiance changes at the middle of the track to become calmer and more mysterious. This section shows echoes of JOHN COLTRANE's playing. "Slightly All The Time" is a soft and slow evolving piece of modal jazz. It has sometimes faster moments which will take you to the heights.

The second half of the song is more tormented and spacey. Then comes the best side of the disc. First, the only track with vocals, "Moon In June". Robert Wyatt's psychedelic and soft voice is just magic and fits perfectly to the melancholic and enchanting music. Just listen and relax. The number of changes of musical directions is just amazing! The second part of the song displays an unbeatable combo of powerful jazz rock. Terrifying! "Out-Bloody-Rageous" concludes magnificently the album by making it enter definitely into the legend. The tune starts and finishes delicately with an ethereal aquatic electronic ambiance taking the listener to the clouds during nearly 5 minutes. The rest just features top-notch and very inspired modal jazz with talented musicians at their best.

Less psychedelic, more jazz and progressive oriented than their two first releases, "Third" is an exemplary tour de force and a milestone in its genre. This is the record that got me into jazz rock and I could simply not get enough of it. There are very few albums which can match this one.

You will not see the time pass. Strongly recommended to everyone!

SOFT MACHINE Third

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
So intent was SOFT MACHINE to evolve at the speed of light into new musical territory that in only a few short years since they founded as a psychedelic pop band and then virtually establishing what would eventually be called the Canterbury Scene in the musical world that by the time they got to their THIRD album so they had practically abandoned all that had come before and dove head first into the world of free jazz and avant-garde psychedelia with only tidbits of rock still to be found throughout this sprawling and ambitious undertaking. Despite the gaudily ugly packaging and the horribly generic album titles, the music is some of the most complex and sophisticated that 1970 had to offer. SOFT MACHINE was simply ahead of the pack by first creating the Canterbury Scene of rock music well before any other takers would continue down that path but they also jumped into the seas of super complex jazz-fusion which can be heard on this bizarre and transitory classic.

THIRD has a much broader spectrum of sound than anything attempted by the band before. Still on board are Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals on the sole vocal track “Moon In June,” Hugh Hopper on bass and Mike Ratledge on various keyboards but we also get Lyn Dobson on sax and flute, Jimmy Hastings (brother of Pye) on flute and bass clarinet, Rab Spall on violin and Nick Evans on trombone. The result of this expanded musical lineup is a big fat jazzy sounding album that is predominantly jazz in nature but has just enough rock and psychedelic influences to keep it firmly in the unusually experimental section on your shelf. The four tracks almost hit the 20 minute mark each but they often seem like they contain several tracks that combine to make a larger track.

“Facelift” is a live recording on the album and it starts out with very trippy sounding intro before getting into jazz-fusion territory. “Slightly All The Time” seems like a pure jazz piece in the beginning but really rocks out at the end. “Moon In June” is the only track to feature vocals and the last one of SOFT MACHINE to ever contain them. I personally think at least one track on an this mostly instrumental album adds a human touch to the bizarre soundscapes created. “Out-Bloody-Rageous” is evenly divided into four parts with the first being psychedelic, the second being jazzy, the third being keyboard oriented and the last part extremely trippy. This is simply a brilliant album from beginning to end but certainly not an easy one to digest. This one requires being well versed in both progressive rock and jazz to really enjoy. It takes many more listens than the average album to fully fall for. I certainly didn't warm up to it at first but eventually after many persistent and attentive attempts it has in the long run paid off handsomely.

I should also mention that is well worth tracking down the 2007 remastered version for not only do you get superb sound quality but a bonus disc from a concert at The Royal Albert Hall for BBC Radio Three in 1970. There are three tracks: “Out-Bloody-Rageous,” “Facelift” and the previously unreleased “Esther's Nose Job.” This is simply one of those albums where words fail to convey the many moods and dynamisms employed in these works. It is a must hear to understand for it is unlike anything that came before and since as far as I am aware. Classic.

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