Soft Ma­chine

Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums - John Bungey

★★★ Hid­den De­tails DYAD. CD First al­bum in 37 years from the psy­che­delic pop­sters turned jazz-rock pioneers with re­volv­ing door line-up.

In re­cent decades we’ve had Soft Works, Soft Ware and Soft Ma­chine Legacy, but now here’s a four­some au­then­tic enough to re­claim the orig­i­nal name. Vet­er­ans of ’70s line-ups, John Etheridge (gui­tar), John Mar­shall (drums), and Roy Bab­bing­ton (bass) are joined by Theo Travis on saxes and flute. They set out their stall on the ti­tle track, all an­gu­lar riffs over propul­sive rhythm be­fore Travis and then Etheridge spiral off into hairy solo­ing. They re­turn to this mus­cu­lar tem­plate through­out, with de­tours into pas­toral calm and bursts of group im­pro­vi­sa­tion. Two oldies, the pretty The Man Who Waved At Trains and the mighty Out-Bloody-Ra­geous, are ef­fec­tively reprised be­fore they sign out with an am­bi­ent bliss-out from Travis’s mul­ti­tracked flutes. Musical styles that once sounded fu­ri­ously cut­ting-edge to­day sound al­most cosily fa­mil­iar, but the themes are strong and the play­ing first-rate. Could even make jazz-rock cool again.

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