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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soft Machine Legacy

Burden of Proof

Review by Gary Hill

Soft Machine Legacy’s blend of sounds often defies categorization. It’s jazzy, it’s space and it’s very cool. Parts are more freeform and at times they wander towards seemingly random elements. It can be dissonant, but it can also be very melodic. Whatever you call this mix of textures, though, this is quite an entertaining set of instrumental music that should have something for most listeners.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Burden of Proof
Some retro keyboards open this, creating a feeling not that unlike a jazzy Pink Floyd. Around the one minute mark the rhythm section joins bringing it into a great fusion groove. This works through a number of shifts and changes. The bass really drives in the background and there is some particularly tasty melodic guitar soloing. The saxophone is also especially noteworthy.
Voyage Beyond Seven

The horns really drive the opening section here. As it works through a couple changes those horns are out front. It works to some mellower, slower melodic music from there. Later it shifts to some spacey music as they continue. Eventually it rises back up and when it does it gets pretty freeform and chaotic. At times it’s also rather noisy. The earlier, triumphant, horn based jam returns to end the piece.

Kitto

Echoey space music opens this. It doesn’t really go far from this starting point, but it’s also relatively short.

Pie Chart

A killer old school jazz groove opens this one and carries it forward. Then a little after the one minute mark a soloing guitar heralds a more rock oriented fusion jam. Beyond that there is some great horn soloing, too. This just oozes cool as it moves languidly forward. Guitar and horn are trading riffs as the song fades out to end.

JSP

This is a short percussion solo.

Kings & Queens

As this opens the rhythm section lays down a great slow groove while awesome atmospheric space jazz dances overhead.  I’m reminded just a tiny bit of John Coltrane on this for some reason. Still, it’s more of a proggy space music in a lot of ways. Perhaps Traffic is also a valid comparison. The cut continues evolving a slow, melodic way. It’s quite pretty and intriguing.

Fallout
A killer jazz groove opens this and kind of swirls around for a while before the whole thing shifts down towards more freeform space music. It gets rather King Crimson-like as the wanderings get noisier and more seemingly random. It eventually drops down to even more sparse space music from there. Hawkwind seems to meet early Pink Floyd as this strangeness continues. Saxophone leads the way back up and it gets dissonant and noisy. Eventually we’re taken back to the type of killer jazz groove that started the whole thing. It almost feels a bit like a jazzy take on King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man."
Going Somewhere Canorous?

Weighing in at less than a minute and a half in length, drums start this. Then the melody comes in with an almost Egyptian feel to it.

Black and Crimson
Retro keyboard sounds open this. They work out from there in another killer fusion jam. The guitar really drives the melody. The saxophone takes that duty later. Then keyboards take over again as the focus shifts. It works back up to the kind of intense melodic fusion we heard before as they continue.
The Brief

Frantic drumming opens this cut, a shorter one. Then saxophone screams and wails over the top of that chaos. It carries on like that throughout and seems to let out straight into the next number.

Pump Room

A cool crunch guitar section opens this. It’s punctuated by a horn heavy jam. That alternating concept serves as the structure as this works forward. Around the two minute mark it drops to just the rhythm section. It feels like the bass might take over for a time, but instead the guitar rises up and the jam starts to resemble King Crimson meets some guitar god. The jam gets pretty intense and then other instruments join and take a turn at driving the solos. This is one of the most effective pieces here and everyone gets a chance to shine.

Green Cubes

Jazz, space rock and world music seem to merge as this starts and builds. Noisy echoey freeform jamming takes it. It’s definitely more space music oriented, but the horn playing keeps the jazz in place. It turns towards Hawkwind music for a time. Then it powers up into a harder rocking jam. Yet, the saxophone keeps jamming across the top.

They Landed A Hill

Space music and jazz merge on this mellow tune. It’s slow moving and echoey. It’s also relatively short and pretty.

 

 
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