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Spaced

Soft Machine

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Album Review

In 1969, Soft Machine were commissioned to provide music for a multimedia show at the Roundhouse in London. As Hugh Hopper writes in the liner notes, "they wanted a backing tape of suitably deranged and doomy sounds," and the group (augmented in parts by saxophonist Brian Hopper) delivered suitably abstract music that was high on improvisational challenge and low on melody. This 67-minute CD was compiled from music used in the show. It varies from off-kilter planetarium-type sounds (especially evident in Mike Ratledge's astral electric keyboards) to background-type instrumental jazz-rock to bordering-on-clamorous noisy improv (especially on the 32-minute "Spaced Four"). The sound quality is good, but this is, after all, work that was recorded as a supplement to a performance art event, with a different purpose in mind than home listening. As such, it has to be considered a marginal entry in the Soft Machine discography, of interest almost exclusively to major fans of the band.

Biography

Formed: 1966 in Canterbury, Kent, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

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...
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