Soft Machine Legacy - Steam ("Back on the right track...")

Soft Machine Legacy - Steam
"Back on the right track..." by Sid Smith
(contributor to Mojo Magazine & author of the book "IN The Court Of The King Crimson")

http://sidsmith.blogspot.com/2007/08/soft-machine-legacy-steam.html

Soft Machine’s reputation as an innovative outfit grazing between the boundaries of jazz and rock often appeared to weigh heavily upon previous Soft Machine Legacy albums. Some smart soloing aside, they trod a too-familiar path between anodyne back-catalogue readings and run of the mill tunes lacking rigour or surprise. In theory, the notion of Soft Machine Legacy was a bold idea that in practice, lacked vitality and certainty.

The recruitment of Theo Travis following the death of Elton Dean last year, has added some much needed spice to the recipe as well as broadening the audio ingredients available. His use of loops on “Anything To Anywhere” restores both an electronic dimension and compositional complexity that also helped define the Soft Machine of old.

Escaping the “heads plus jam” formula, it’s no coincidence that John Etheridge delivers his most incisive solo of the record on this very track.

Group efforts such as the thunderous scrape of “The Big Man” and the Hatfieldesque twists and turns of “So English” benefit from Travis’ beefy workouts, adding an edge absent on previous Legacy outings. Both as writer and player, Hugh Hopper’s sepulchral menace is undiminished on “Footloose.”

Whilst no one could ever question their right to trade on the name, only now perhaps is there a head of steam capable of producing an album that can stand next to its illustrious forebears.
Fri 9/14/2007 12:51 PM