Soft Machine – Third

Originally released in 1970 on CBS/Columbia Records

2011 Music on Vinyl Pressing


Pulling away from the jazzy psych-pop of their first two albums, Soft Machine gears towards sprawling sidelong compositions of spacey prog infused with thematic jazz fusion improvisations, compositional edits, and heavy doses of experimental post-production (for the more psychedelically inclined). Motivic electric-bass grooves, multi-tracked saxophones, loose swinging drums and fuzzy organs reign supreme. The whimsical and diverse musical nature of founding member/drummer Robert Wyatt was relegated to the eclectic C-side, “Moon in June”, which was his last composition for the band due to the other members not being a fan of his vocals and preferring the seriousness of jazz fusion to Wyatt’s child-like playfulness and spontaneity.

Track Notes

Soft machine third

A1 – Facelift

⁃ atonal ambient section, psychedelic soundscapes

⁃ Psychedelic collage structure (found on most of album)

⁃ Goes into groovy fusion jamming (Main Theme)

⁃ Fades into psychedelic drone with eerie flute solo

⁃ Strings creep in

⁃ Leads to brooding groove, exploring the unknown

⁃ Searching, passionate sax solo

⁃ Chill version of the main theme

⁃ Abrupt edit to dramatic marching drums with all instruments in unison on a sinister theme

⁃ Jam reverses, musique concrete drone til end

B1 – Slightly All the time (Favorite Track)

⁃ Main theme

⁃ solo bass, minimal groove with harmonics

⁃ drums join with light swing

⁃ Full horn section comes in on main theme (A) in unison, thematic jazz fusion

⁃ Confident Sax solo

⁃ Bass still doing same groove, but with some chord changes

⁃ Weird time signature riff

⁃ passionate soprano sax solo

⁃ Smooth tenor solo

⁃ Horns back in unison and then drops out to drum-bass-keys

⁃ (A)Thematic horns re-enter for main theme

⁃ (Possible edit). Faster, driving section. Multi-tracked flute solos, possibly same flute solo but with one delayed a few bars, in a round

⁃ Weird Time signature riff

⁃ Super clean edit to coolest section in the song

⁃ Amazing new vibe/groove in slow 9/4 Riff

⁃ Rad soprano solo

⁃ fuzzy farifsa solo (bass clarinet playing riff on right side)

⁃ Multi-tracked horns playing theme in unison

⁃ Edit to slow, open, spacious new theme

⁃ Swelling organ, lyrical bass, jazzy drums

⁃ Kicks into sad, sexy groove with passionate sax solo

⁃ Kicks into 9/4 swing with fat walking bassline, double time

⁃ Dig how drums are panned right, keys left, bass and sax center

⁃ Edit into slow, epic theme for dramatic outro, with a noisy exclamation point

C1 – Moon in June

Robert Wyatt piece

⁃ Jazz-pop section

⁃ vocals, panned organs, drums – most instruments played by Wyatt

⁃ Lyrics are a bit playfully sexual

⁃ goes between sad and playful

⁃ organs follow vocal melodies

⁃ uplifting bass solo

⁃ Lyrics are romantic, likely about his future wife Alfie

⁃ Dark, disjointed, atonal section

⁃ Dark organ solo (played by Wyatt, more simplistic than Mike Rateledge)

⁃ Sunny Pop Section based around vox and piano

⁃ “Living can be lovely….wish I were back home again”

⁃ Instrumental lead by right organ

⁃ Drums and organ drones build into new section

⁃ Final verse with greater energy, romantic lyrics

⁃ Vocals and instruments sustain into drone that morphs into full band section

⁃ Full band section, continues perfectly from last

⁃ Fuzzy bass, jazz fusion grooves

⁃ Fat fuzzy bassline kicks into fast walking jazz section

⁃ Driving swing with heavy walking bass, organ fuzz solo on left side

⁃ Wordless vocals supports organ solo

⁃ Organ solo over frenetic drums and bassist holding it down

⁃ Vocal rejoin for atmospheric/harmonic purposes

⁃ Tempo starts falling apart, crazy, noisy sounds

⁃ Builds into epic and noisy climax with fuzzy bass and wailing siren-like organ. Tempo falls apart

⁃ More mellow, spacey swung section. Still moody but lighter

⁃ Chord progression builds up with fuzzy bass or organ in back

⁃ Sustained fuzz becomes drone

⁃ Free jazz drone section

⁃ frantic but quiet drum pulse on left

⁃ Throbbing organ notes on left

⁃ Eerie violin on left, tape effects. Sliding pitch

⁃ Spaceship synth sounds

⁃ Quiet vox in back

⁃ Helicopter pulse forms. Fat sustained bass

D1 – Out-bloody Rageous

⁃ Section 1: reversed/sped-up tape loops fade in for pretty, blooming drone intro

⁃ Section 2: After a few minutes some groovy jazz fusion kicks in with piano,sax,drums, and motivic bassline, loop atmospheres slowly fade out

⁃ Fuzzy and complex organ solo with piano, bass and drums still comping

⁃ Drops out to just bass playing the motif

⁃ Multi-tracked horns kick in, fluttering saxes heavily drenched in reverb

⁃ Fades into drone loop (like section 1) and then kicks into next section

⁃ Section 3: multi-tracked piano theme

⁃ Contrapuntal Horns in

⁃ Pianos drop out to bass, horns and organ swells. Slow swinging drum pulse

⁃ Emotional saxophone solo, energy building up slowly underneath

⁃ Harmonic saxophone overdubs join in background

⁃ Section 4: multi-layered was tape loops of keyboard and synth arpeggios

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