SOFT MACHINE — Third (review)

SOFT MACHINE — Third album cover Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Sleepwalker
Four sides, four pieces, that always is a risky formula. On Soft Machine's Third this works out quite nicely actually. Four experimental compositions, all somewhat different from each other yet all driven by dissonance, jazzy improvisations and an overall intense and powerful feel. Third is not an easy thing to digest, but perhaps it's worth the try.

"Facelift" opens the album, being probably the most dissonant and menacing piece on the album. Crushing distorted organ, brooding saxophone soloing and an incredibly fierce sound. Just like all other pieces on the album, there are several radical changes in the music after some time has passed, preventing the music from getting dull. Still, you can expect intense improvisational soloing that could last for quite a while. This is in particular evident on the jazzy "Slightly All The Time", a piece driven by intense saxophone solos and a thick bass sound, that smashes you down on the floor and holds you in its grip.

Whereas all other pieces are completely instrumental, "Moon In June" features Robert Wyatt's excellent vocals. Despite being somewhat harsh and rough the first half of the song also features some soothing melodies and an overall benign mood. However, a sudden change near the 10 minute mark turns the piece into a dissonant beast in the vein of "Facelift", with menacing distorted bass and electric violin. Closing the album is "Out-Bloody-Rageous", which again is a jazzy piece more so than a dissonant piece. The first 5 minutes of it is backwards noise, likeable, but not for more than a minute or so. However, as soon as the main theme comes in "Out-Bloody-Rageous" proves to be a wonderful piece, though it never quite reaches the heights of the other compositions, and tends to drag a bit more than those.

Though Third tends to drag at times, it is a very daring and unique release. Be aware that Third might not be an easy ride, with all its improvisation and dissonance, but if you aren't scared away by such things, it might work out very well for you.
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