Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sample & Hold : the soft machine vol. 1

The new Sundazed re-issue/remaster of The Soft Machine's first classic bit of psycho-dada featuring Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt had me re-living the two times I witnessed their greatness on tour with Jimi Hendrix in 1968. Ayer's We Did it Again, which lasts 3:48 on the album went on for 15-30 minutes at Stonybrook University causing the desired dada confrontational effect-boos, catcalls and audible moaning...GREAT success!!! brother and I seemingly the only audience members who were enjoying the spectacle of unremitting repetition!...we did it again...the war in Vietnam...we did it again...I would have thought this hotbed of countercultural ideals would have embraced this sentiment?

 The Soft Machine went on to morph into an expanded jazz outfit, the only element remaining from the original group sound was Ratledge's fuzz organ. Volume 1 remains a definitive statement-Wyatt's crazed drumming and and inviting vocals, Ayer's loopy bass playing and baritone (VERY british!) vocals, and Ratledge's  fuzzy organ explorations all come together to form a late 60's brand of challenging dada pop art that remains a playful, transgressive listen.

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