Soft Machine were/are one of the most interesting bands the come out of England in the 1960s. From their beginnings as a quirky psychedelic rock band (with Kevin Ayers), they evolved into one of the most unique and vital ensembles of fusion (known in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s as "jazz-rock fusion"). Soft Machine’s sound was a synthesis of the hard bop (Freddie Hubbard), avant garde (Ornette Coleman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk) and early electric (Miles Davis) movements in jazz and the dark, unusual textures of (then) forward looking rock (King Crimson). NOISETTE collects live material from January 1970, and, with its fine sound, it’s a great addition to their lagacy.
In brief: pianist/organist Mike Ratledge incorporates the feel of both jazz giant Herbie Hancock and minimalist composer Terry Riley in his unique style. Hugh Hopper’s bass was dense, fuzzed-out and aggressive, aggressive as any horn or guitar player. Saxophonists Lyn Dobson and the underrated Elton Dean enthrallingly weave melodic lines both hypnotic and unsettling, and drummer/singer Robert Wyatt thunders throughout in a manner that would make Tony Williams proud. NOISETTE is especially valuable to fans of the group (and contemporary jazz) as it documents the (previously unrecorded) five-member edition of the band. For fans, essential; for the curious, a good introduction.