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Soft Machine

Other Doors

Review by Gary Hill

Soft Machine has such a history of creating compelling jazz leaning music. This new album fits well within that legacy. The current lineup of the group is John Etheridge, Theo Travis, Fred Theolonious Baker and John Marshall. They have worked together to deliver an album that is both fresh and vital, but also pays tribute to the type of sound the group has always created. This is such a great instrumental release.

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Track by Track Review
Careless Eyes
There is a dreamy, jazzy space rock mellow arrangement here. It has definite leanings toward world music, and is very classy.
Penny Hitch
I dig the smooth fusion sounds of this track a lot. It has some great textures and vibes.
Other Doors
The cool rocking, almost King Crimson-like guitar part that starts this is so hot. They bring in a more full arrangement of it as they work forward. This is one of the highlights of the set with plenty of that KC-type element at play a lot of the time. It also shifts into more traditional fusion jamming for a time, The saxophone soloing further down the road really has some magic nestled within. It gets back to the more prog rock aligned stuff later.  They pack so much into this that it's hard to believe it's less than five-minutes long.
Crocked Usage
Creative jazz musical concepts are in the driver's seat here. This turns toward more freeform stuff later, and it at times makes me think of some of the jazzier stuff from early King Crimson. We're taken into some really intriguing almost space jazz territory as this continues to evolve.
Joy Of A Toy
There is almost an old-school rock and roll angle to this. Of course, it's tempered with jazz and more. There is definitely some space rock added to the mix later. This is an unusual and particularly effective piece of music that gets fairly pounding at times.
A Flock Of Holes
Mellower, world music leaning sounds are on the menu here. This is less than two-and-a-half-minutes long, and doesn't change too far from its origins.
Whisper Back
Even shorter than the last track, this is a guitar solo piece with plenty of jazz and fusion at its core.
The Stars Apart
There is a lot of classy guitar based jazz style to this. It has a slow, almost bluesy angle to it.
Now! Is The Time
The is a tasty and rich bass solo.
Fell To Earth
For some reason I'm getting both Hawkwind and King Crimson vibes from this. It's all delivered in a distinctly jazz-based arrangement. They take this through all kinds of twists and turns. It also turns into some killer free-form stuff later. Don't get too comfortable in any one place. This changes frequently and covers a lot of musical mileage.
The Visitor At The Window
A mellower piece, this has a lot of style and charm. There are some hints of world music, but also freeform jazz, world music and more.        
Maybe Never
Freaky electronics like the old school computer sounds is the idea on this track. This is pretty much space music by definition.
Back In Season
A dramatic and evocative piano performance gets things going here. Other instruments rise up gradually, taking us out into more purely jazz based territory. This gets pretty spacey at times. After evolving for a while, this drops back to just piano for a while past the halfway mark. They bring it back up with more jazz stylings. There is some scorching hot guitar work in the later sections of the piece. This is one of my favorite tracks here, making it a great choice for closer.



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