Soft Machine - Floating World Live

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Moonjune Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:54:00

The live album is a concept often reviled by critics who are interested in upholding their indie rep, and one that is excessively adored by those who did a bit too much of the good old acid back in the sixties or seventies. They're both missing the point. Live albums, when not simply a way to cash in or to buy time when inspiration is running low, are time capsules. Until the time machine is built and made available at reasonable prices, we can't know how J.S. Bach played the organ. That's why critics never talk about the guy's performances. Yeah, sure, if little Timmy Johnson from Amarillo, TX decides to record his prepubescent God-awful guitar abominations onto a CD, no one's going to be talking about his performances either. But we're not talking about little Timmy here. We're talking about Soft Machine. With Allan Holdsworth on guitar, no less.

Floating World Live is a time capsule from January 1975, an archive of a performance largely based around the band's release Bundles and one gargantuan collection of fusion jams with subtle Canterbury tones. In fact, the first ten tracks lead into each other seamlessly, creating the meat of the record and a pretty damn extensive jam session of sorts, if you ask me. Not only extensive, however, but also pretty damn indiscriminating. On one hand, there is the gorgeous building-up atmosphere of "The Floating World" and the great riff work of "Hazard Profile, Pt.1." On the other, John Marshall's snore-inducing ten-minute drum solo "J.S.M." and Mike Ratledge's ultimately annoying keyboard wanking on "North Point." In the middle: all sorts of stuff, too much jamming in the long run, a lackluster violin performance by Holdsworth pitted against some hellfire (if sometimes directionless) guitar action, a killer performance by Karl Jenkins on "Peff," and a bunch of etceteras. All throughout: the incredibly tasteful bass work of Roy Babbington, who actually keeps the whole thing together, manages to revive his cohorts more than once, and takes a pretty good stab at solo bass on "Ealing Comedy." Talk about a musician Tarzan. Summarized: A massive jam with some brilliant moments, some boring (but never terrible) moments, and overall mixed results.

Interestingly enough, the prize in Floating World Live goes to the tracks in which rampant improvisation takes a back seat; namely the almost-too-sweet "Song of Aeolus" and the brilliant and too-short quotation of the Sabbathy "Pennyhitch." Tragically, it becomes quite telling when one considers the fact that they flank the pointless improv-heavy existence of "Endgame:" perhaps the performance in its time was ineffably enthralling and meaningful, but with an improvisational approach that doesn't quite make it when recorded and listened to more than once, Floating World Live simply falls short of being a significant time capsule. If anything, it is an interesting document for Soft Machine fans, a drooling motive for certain fusion fanatics who are interested in hearing long displays of virtuosity, and an album that the rest of the world can certainly listen to, but not in any hurry whatsoever.

Similar artists: Egg, Caravan

The Floating World (4:52) / Bundles (4:53) / Land Of The Bag Snake (5:07) / Ealing Comedy (6:08) / The Man Who Waived At The Trains (4:56) / Peff (6:29) / North Point (4:05) / Hazard Profile, Pt.1 (4:49) / J.S.M. (10:13) / Riff III (8:42) / Song Of Aeolus (4:16) / Endgame (6:39) / Pennyhitch (2:40)

Allan Holdsworth - guitars, violin
Mike Ratledge - keyboards
Karl Jenkins - oboe, soprano sax, recorder, pianos
Roy Babbington - bass
John Marshall - drums, percussion

Soft Machine (1968)
Volume Two (1969)
Third (1970)
Fourth (1971)
Five (1972)
Six (1972)
Seven (1973)
Bundles (1975)
Softs (1976)
Rubber Riff (1976)
Triple Echo (1977)
Alive And Well, Recorded In Paris (1978)
Land Of Cockayne (1981)
Live At The Proms 1970 (1988)
Jet Propelled Photographs (1989)
BBC Radio One Live In Concert (1971/1993)
BBC Radio One Live In Concert (1972/1993)
Live In France (1972/1995)
Live At The Paradiso (1995)
The Best Of...The Harvest Years (1995)
Spaced (1969/1996)
Virtually (1971/1998)
Noisette ()
Backwards (2002)
Facelift (2002)
Kings Of Canterbury: Soft Machine (boxset/comp.) (2003)
BBC Radio 1967-1971 (2003)
BBC Radio 1971-1974 (2003)
Sometime In Soho (2004)
British Tour '75 (2005)
Out Bloody Rageous (Anthology 1967-1973) (2005)
Legacy Live In Zaandam (2005)
Breda Reactor (2005)
The Story Of Soft Machine (2005)
Soft Machine & Heavy Friends BBC In Concert 1971 (2005)
Floating World Live (2006)
Grides (2006)
Middle Earth Master (2006)
Live At The New Morning: The Paris Concert (2006)
Steam (2007)
Drop (2009)
Live At Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971 (2009)
Hidden Details (2018)

Genre: Canterbury

Origin UK

Added: July 23rd 2006
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Hits: 949
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]