Soft Machine - Backwards

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: Rune 170
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:47:00

What better way to stir the waters of historic musical interest than to release a new album of unreleased vintage material from a classic band that many would hope had released every single one of its performances as a new live record? Look around you, look at the world, look at the record store shelves chock full of rare Led Zeppelin performances, obscure The Doors stuff, recordings of Jimi Hendrix dropping acid while convulsing onstage with his right-handed Stratocaster, and what not. Then feel your pockets get deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper while you realize, much to your tragic dismay, that there was a reason why all that stuff never actually saw the light of day before in the first place. Then collapse into a nervous breakdown when you find out that the regal trip into the past that you were looking for was to be found instead in Soft Machine's Backwards. You poor, poor bastard.

Because much unlike the vast majority of unreleased BBC sessions, festival appearances, subterranean demos, and seedy club gigs that seem to be surfacing with alarming alacrity in recent years, this latest in Cuneiform Records's archiving of Soft Machine's history is not fueled by greedy ravenous hands craving to claw at the consumer's very means of sustenance. It is instead a labor of love, the careful preservation of a legacy well worth maintaining that has been executed with both historical meaning and sheer musical ecstasy in mind. And to listen to the savage flair with which the quartet formation of this band took flight on stage next to the monstrously good wall of sound that its previous septet incarnation offered as temptation to the ears is so movingly and deliciously overwhelming that there is simply no way in which to thank the people responsible adequately. Hopefully, appreciating all the effort that must have gone into Backwards will suffice for now.

The enjoyment doesn't stop there, however, as the listener is further treated to an early demo of "Moon In June" that, despite the quite detailed explanation of the decrepit state that the acetate of it was found in, is surprisingly well restored to the point that the song's beautiful poignancy remains unharmed. Truth be told, however, the real jewels are the preceding live tracks, all of which see Soft Machine gently caress tender strings of notes, pull into brilliant improv sections with spirited bite, delve quickly into more experimental segments of dissonance, and roar with a hearty fury that in truth is worth every second of Backwards. It is Soft Machine further moving into the realms of jazzy unorthodoxy, yet still grafted on to the vital energy of rock, whereas the "Moon In June" demo is obviously not quite so distant from pop concepts yet. Whether it is the demo or the live material that one is to analyze, however, the result remains the same: this is not only another archive of Soft Machine's legacy. It is a masterpiece in its own right.

Similar artists: Egg, Caravan

Facelift (18:49) / Moon In June (7:38) / Esther's Nose Job (12:55) / Facelift (8:32) / Hibou Anemone And Bear (4:00) / Moon In June - Demo (20:46)

Robert Wyatt - drums, vocals; all instruments (6)
Mike Ratledge - keyboards
Hugh Hopper - bass
Nick Evans - trombone
Lyn Dobson - soprano sax, tenor sax
Elton Dean - alto sax, saxello
Mark Charig - trumpet

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: August 25th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Hits: 612
Language: english


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