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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Soft Machine Legacy Burden Of Proof



Soft Machine Legacy
Burden Of Proof
Esoteric Antenna

The combination of thoughtful improvisations, weighty themes and punchy arrangements suits John Etheridge (guitar), Roy Babbington (bass), John Marshall (drums) and Theo Travis (sax, flute, keyboards) very well indeed on their first studio outing.

The brooding chug of Pump Room or Pie Chart’s bluesy growl find Babbington getting deep down into the groove with Marshall’s dead-on drumming. The joy in much of this album is in the rhythm section’s ability to find the heart of a piece. The simmering rise and fall of Crimson And Black is a masterclass in expressiveness without ever getting in the way. Etheridge’s potent mix of acerbic angularity lend a spritely yet raucous edge, offering a rocky counter-balance to Travis’s jazzy cogitations.

The fingerprints of SML’s past is found on Hugh Hopper’s elegiac Kings and Queens. Welcome though it is, its inclusion raises the question whether this group need to reference its lineage at all. Burden Of Proof would in no way be a lesser album were this deservedly venerated composition omitted from the running order. It’s a confident band with nothing to prove; having found their own distinctive voice there’s no longer any need for them to be looking over their shoulder.


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