Soft Machine is one of the greatest UK avant/jazz-rock bands of all time. Their work, from their earliest performances as a psychedelic band, who were contemporaries of, and shared stages with Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, all the way to being one of Europe’s best known ‘fusion’ bands has influenced several generations of bands, and continues to be name-checked by today’s hip experimentalists.
This band is rooted in the celebrated 70’s version of the legendary group which recorded the acclaimed ‘Softs’ album in 1975, completed by outstanding sax star Theo Travis (Robert Fripp/David Gilmour/Steven Wilson). Since 2021 Roy Babbington retired from public performance and his chosen successor on the bass is Fred Thelonious Baker who has been a musician on the Canterbury scene for over 30 years – being a regular collaborator with the late Elton Dean, with Hugh Hopper and with guitarist Phil Miller (In Cahoots/Hatfield and the North). Due to ill health John Marshall will not be touring with the band in 2023 but will be replaced by Asaf Sirkis. The band plays material from the era (compositions by Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge, Karl Jenkins) as well as many works by members of the band, as featured on their latest studio album ‘Other Doors’, and their recent acclaimed live album recorded.in Los Angeles ‘Live at the Baked Potato’.
Whilst the line-up of Soft Machine may have changed many times since the heady days of the late 1960’s, the band’s spirit of musical adventure, and the ease with which it freely avoids being pigeon holed and can move from powerful progressive jazz fusion to atmospheric psychedelia to free improvised jazz-rock to ambient loop music continues to make it both unique and totally contemporary.
Just as the original Soft Machine was in a state of continual metamorphosis in terms of both personnel and musical approach – shape-shifting over time from a psychedelic pop band, to a proto–prog rock outfit, to pioneers of adventurous jazz-rock fusion, and ranging from trio to septet configurations – Soft Machine and formerly Soft Machine Legacy has been in constant flux as members have come and gone, each new arrival placing his distinctive stamp on this musical work in progress. It is a tribute to the open-ended nature of Soft Machine’s ingenious compositional frameworks that they can accommodate such a wide range of strong musical personalities.
This is Soft Machine – a living, breathing music that is as vital and relevant today as it ever was. Both long-time fans and new converts alike can take heart in the knowledge that the Soft Machine family tree — with its deep roots in the musical revolution of the ‘60s – continues to sprout healthy new limbs well into the new century, showing no signs of slowing. The legacy is in very good hands indeed.
In 2018 Soft Machine released the album ‘Hidden Details’ which reached the Number 1 slot in the Amazon.co.uk Jazz Fusion chart. It also reached Number 1 for 8 weeks in the prestigious progressive radio chart from Philadelphia USA ‘Gagliarchives’ with Tom Gagliardi. Following the 50 date, 50th Anniversary World Tour, Soft Machine released a live album at the prestigious Los Angeles club the Baked Potato. – ‘Live at the Baked Potato’ was released in 2020 to great acclaim.
Soft Machine’s brand new studio album ‘Other Doors’ is released 30 June 2023 worldwide.
‘This isn’t a nostalgia or revival band but a very vital unit, contemporary and alert, consistently humane, still capable of surprise and delight – The Wire (Brian Morton)
‘The band, of course, has a broad palette — from Metheny-like jazz-rock to anything-goes improvisation; from pastoral passages with Etheridge on acoustic to an ambient flutescape from Travis. Compact and to the point, nothing overstays its welcome.’ – The Times
‘There’s no end of bands trading on the glories of past lineups. Soft Machine stands apart and above such outfits’ – Musoscribe 2020
‘On the strength of this recording, they sound more vital and enthused than we really have any right to expect. – Progressive Aspect
‘I’ve seen Soft Machine several times in recent years, and this is as good a set as I’ve heard them perform. It’s hard to believe that they can still produce music with this level of invention and verve after more than fifty years, and there are no signs here of that stopping anytime soon I’m very pleased to say. – Progressive Aspect
“the current incarnation of the band is actually bloody good” – Jazz Journal 2020
‘No band of this vintage have any right to still sound so fearless and ferocious. Don’t miss them! – PROG Magazine 2019
“…the great thing about the current group is that there is no desire to live in the past. The Soft Machine project seems to be pointed forward and not part of the heritage industry” – Jazz Journal (Brian Morton)
“Soft Machine were the grooviest, coolest psychedelic band of the era…”
– Phil Manzanera
“Soft Machine…certainly rank among the most influential ‘out’ rock bands.”
“These are four musicians who are masters of their craft, and truly at the top of their game, not only as soloists but as contributors in an actual band. They’ve put together here a collection of songs that basically has something for everyone; challenging jazz-fusion, adventurous prog-rock, bits of chaotic free-jazz, atmospheric instrumental pop-jazz, and even a little hard rock. Extraordinary!”
– 5 stars. Sea Of Tranquility.org (Pete Pardo)
‘As good as any other live album released by the band’. ….the music sounds vital and intense, with an octogenarian rhythm section on top form (John Marshall is almost as amazing as his 40 year-old self) and the incendiary guitars of John Etheridge giving it all an edge of urgency. Classics such as Out-Bloody-Rageous (from Third), Kings And Queens (from Fourth) or The Man Who Waved At Trains (from Bundles) are all honored in dynamic fashion and crystal clear sound, with the band showing great mastery of light and shade (as on The Tale Of Taliesin from Softs) and even beauty (on Heart Off Guard). For those on the lookout for intensity, look no further than drum solo Sideburn and the oddly catchy classic Hazard Profile. There’s also room for newer material from their 2018 Hidden Details album, namely its guitar-heavy title track and the more off-kilter Life On Bridges.
For a band that has been around in different shapes and forms producing unconventional music for more than 50 years, it is a triumph to still be able to play at this level of complexity and to come across as vigorous as this. Old music, but young heart indeed. ‘ DPRP.net
Tickets for this show are non-refundable. In the event of a cancellation, ticket holders will be contacted.
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