SOFT MACHINE — Bundles (review)

SOFT MACHINE — Bundles album cover Album · 1975 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Abraxas
Allan Holdsworth's Soft Machine

With the inclusion of a guitarist, and not any, if not the one and only Allan Holdsworth, The Soft Machine could fully develop and deliver the jazz rock style that was featured on both previous albums, Six and Seven. While Allan was the key-factor to produce this, the other ''sections'' of the bands still offer quite a lot:

The 'rhythm section' compromised by John Marshall and Roy Babbington had already showed their capability as a team on Seven, so in Bundles they continue being relentless, Roy with his persistent bass lines and John with his variety of delicate jazz fills and rapid powerful ones.

The 'keyboard section' formed by founding member Mike Ratledge and Nucleus' keyboardist, Karl Jenkins, had also showed their capability as a team already since Six, adding lots of jazzy runs as well as some spacey stuff. However, what is highly surprising in this album, is that the keyboards are pretty much in the background, it's shocking in comparison to the complete keyboard driven Seven.

The 'solo section' while mainly being compromised by recently arrived Allan Holdsworth, being the main performer on Bundles delivering plenty of solos full of originality and energy, though not his finest I've got to admit, there's still the ocassional solo spot for either Karl's sax/oboe, Mike's synths and John's drum kit. John playing a drum solo on the tune 'Four Gongs Two Drums'.

As for the music, the trend of relating each track with the following is also present here, so again expect a flawless flow making some unrelated(by name) tunes be related forming one big great piece and that's the case from 'Bundles' up to 'Four Gongs Two Drums' making one related big piece of 14 minutes. The other standout is obviously the 19 minute splitted piece called 'Hazard Profile' which showcases all the characteristics from the stated sections.

Bundles in its essence features the line-up Soft Machine had been waiting for since Six, which is the reason why the album is so darn good and the reason why it overshadows the, similar in style, antecessors. While definitely not being in the style of the albums that made Soft Machine a popular Canterbury band, those were Third and both Volumes, Bundles shows us once again that this band is capable of playing diferrent varieties of jazz forms and still play them at full steam with all of the Machine's originality, this doesn't sound like Mahavishnu Orchestra or Retrun to Forever. This is Soft Machine's jazz rock masterpiece.
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