Soft Machine: Hidden Details

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Soft Machine: Hidden Details
Hidden Details celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Soft Machine's 1968 eponymous debut, a seismic event in the British psychedelic, jazz and rock music landscapes that still reverbates as the Canterbury scene/sound. This anniversary studio celebration also brought about Soft Machine's first tour of North America since 1974, with several 2018 shows featuring Gary Husband as guest performer on either drums or keyboards.

First assembled in 1966, Soft Machine has become a landmark British (if not global) progressive musical institution, and was among the first groups to explore the intersections of progressive jazz and progressive rock and there discover their unique style and sound. Even the name Soft Machine wonderfully describes the power of their exploratory vision and bluesy, warm familiarity of their sound sustained through various incarnations that included Elton Dean, Andy Summers (Jazz Police), Kevin Ayers, Daevid Allen (Gong), Robert Wyatt and Allan Holdsworth.

Thanks to guitarist John Etheridge, the gnarled and moody "Broken Hill" suggests (but doesn't emulate) Led Zeppelin's funky blues crunch; but peel the jazz horns off the top of "One Glove" and the remaining guitar trio kicks out bluesy Led Zeppelin funk circa Houses of the Holy (1973, Atlantic) or Presence (1976, SwanSong).

Other tunes pull your ears most insistently into jazz. Even when Travis jumps into "One Glove," his blazing saxophone locks down tight yet plays loose with the band; with Marshall swinging more and more jazz into his rock beat, the collective sound moves like Eddie Harris grooving in a Traffic jam.

Travis drives deep into the Eastern edges of his saxophone lines in "Out Bloody Rageous, Part 1," introducing the sound of Yusef Lateef into their jazzy jamming. (Travis' pliant electronic keyboard grows small notes into a ripple into a cascading stream for his lovely, evocative "Out Bloody Intro.") Compressed into less than seven minutes, "Fourteen Hour Dream" plows and tends a broad field of progressive rock, with the bass harmonically groaning underneath Travis' trippy flute and the sparkle on Etheridge's guitar winking at David Gilmour's transcendent, electric Pink Floyd blues.

The spacious and twinkling "Breathe" closes Hidden Details with five minutes of contemplative innervision that steers the ethereal instrumental opening to the Floyd's Wish You Were Here (Columbia, 1975) into the direction of Steve Hillage's ambient inner-/outer-space masterpiece Rainbow Dome Musick (Virgin, 1979).

Track Listing

Hidden Details; The Man Who Waved at Trains; Ground Lift; Heart Off Guard; Broken Hill; Flight of the Jett; One Glove; Out Bloody Intro; Out Bloody Rageous (Part 1); Drifting White; Life on Bridges; Fourteen Hour Dream; Breathe; Night Sky (bonus).


John Etheridge: electric and acoustic guitars; Theo Travis: tenor and soprano saxophones, flutes, Fender Rhodes piano; Roy Babbington: bass guitar; John Marshall: drums, percussion; Nick Utteridge: wind chimes (13).

Album information

Title: Hidden Details | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: MoonJune Records

Post a comment about this album




Shop Amazon


Read Light In The World
Light In The World
Nocturnal Four
Read A Time And A Place
A Time And A Place
Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language
Read Mayan Suite
Mayan Suite
Brian Andres
Read When You Find It
When You Find It
Arthur White and Merge
Read Rainbow Baby
Rainbow Baby
Cathlene Pineda
Read An Open Dialogue
An Open Dialogue
Linda Sikhakhane

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.