Saturday, September 8, 2018

Soft Machine "Hidden Details"

Country: UK
Genre(s)Canterbury, Jazz Rock, Fusion
LabelMoonjune Records (NA), Dyan Records (UK/EU), Vivid Records (Japan)
Format: CD, digital
Release date: September 8, 2018
1. Hidden Details
2. The Man Who Waved At Trains
3. Ground Lift
4. Heart Off Guard
5. Broken Hill
6. Flight Of The Jet
7. One Glove
8. Out Bloody Intro
9. Out Bloody Rageous, Part 1
10. Drifting White
11. Life On Bridges
12. Fourteen Hour Dream
13. Breathe
14. Night Sky (Bonus Track)

John Etheridge – electric & acoustic guitar
Theo Travis  - sax, flute, Fender Rhodes piano
Roy Babbington - bass
John Marshall  - drums
Nick Utteridge - wind chimes (13)

'Hidden Details' is very much the product of an active, contemporary sounding outfit striking out with its own agenda. Though informed by the past, the music here is neither weighed down nor beholden to it. Animated with the same ineffable and inquisitive spirit that has always made this group throughout its fifty years such a compelling experience, it’' good to have a new Soft Machine with us in 2018. The yearning tenderness of 'Heart Off Guard' and the come-down reveries of 'Broken Hill' and 'Drifting White' showcase the more intimate aspects of Soft Machine's personality while in contrast, 'One Glove' gives the more pugilistic side of John Etheridge's playing an outing. The terse angularities of the title track and 'Life on Bridges' highlight a fearless disposition, as does the buzzsaw interplay heard during 'Ground Lift' and 'Flight of the Jett,' both featuring Roy Babbington's decisive interventions. The surging lyricism of 'Fourteen Hour Dream' flirts with an almost popish sensibility, underscoring the sense that this is a quartet that is fundamentally at ease with itself. The return of what some older fans of the band have called 'cosmic tinkles’'– the appearance of layers of cyclical electric piano motifs – is especially welcome. Their brief manifestation on 'The Man Who Waved at Trains' and Third-era, 'Out-Bloody-Rageous,' both stone-cold Mike Ratledge-composed classics, adds an extra spacey dimension to the overall sound. Travis' use of looping technology with his flutes creates its own beguiling world and can be heard to powerful effect on the beautiful and enigmatic 'Breathe,' where his hovering notes are underpinned by Marshall's oblique yet atmospheric percussion.(Sid Smith at Bandcamp)

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