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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soft Machine

Spaced

Review by Gary Hill

The music on this CD is incredibly hard to describe or categorize. Certainly ambient space music would be applicable to some of this. RIO styled free form noise rock might be another. The truth is, the music encompasses a lot of sounds and textures, but often doesn’t really qualify as “music” in a traditional sense. It’s slow moving and often monolithic for extended periods of time. It’s also incredibly interesting and artistic. This is definitely not for everyone, but it’s unusual and intriguing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Spaced One
Ambient spacey tones make up the beginning here. It turns more towards a Hawkwind ambience meets King Crimson jamming as it continues on. Much of this feels quite random – and yet there seems an almost imperceptible plan in place. Check out the bass that is down in the background. It’s doing some cool stuff. This turns almost creepy at times and gets a bit louder and more “rock” oriented still further down the road.
Spaced Two
Here we get some real “rock” music. This is still strange and quirky, but it’s got an actual rhythmic structure and is well beyond the level of ambience. I’d probably put this in somewhere between Univers Zero and Niacin. As this builds up gradually it becomes quite intriguing. There is melody rising and falling and flitting across here and there. It turns a bit noisy later.
Spaced Three
Weird processed and backwards tracked textures make up this odd piece.
Spaced Four
Over thirty seven minutes in length, this is a massive slow moving slab of odd sounds and space textures. At times it gets quite noisy. Some of the material around the five minute mark seems very much like King Crimson’s more adventurous material. There’s a hard rocking jam, again quite KCish that comes in around the seventeen minute mark. This gets quite noisy. Weird effects and processed sound bites come in still further down this crazy road. It works out to less sonically intense and diverse elements before finally taking us out.
Spaced Five
This is one of the most melodic tracks on the disc. It has a very jazzy texture and is quite an intriguing song, but still has plenty of the musical elements that dominate the rest of disc.
Spaced Six
With its coming and going approach like a radio station barely tuned in, this is hard for me to take. There is some cool percussion (that element dominates a lot of this) here, but it’s a bit of an ordeal to get through it.
Spaced Seven
Backwards tracked, this is gentle and pretty. The effect is a haunting piece that’s my favorite of the set.
 
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