Sadly, with Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper passed away, there is no more Soft Machine as such. However, the group has enjoyed such a multitudinous roster of personnel within its auspices and outlier groups that it will remain a mutation of its own larger than life excellence in Soft Machine Legacy, the most direct exemplar of the Softs' continuing influence in the world of highly intelligent music. Live Adventures is proof of that, starting out beyond the borders of the founding group's wont, and with a prefatory cut, Has Riff II, that's a cross between noise, ambient, neoclassical, and Gothic chamber.
The cover for this one is atypical as well, more the sort of thing one would expect from Tales (J.L.H. Berthelot's prog-space entity), a Dune/Star Trek/Fifth Element kinda art gig, but this isn't space music—futuristic, sure, but not Klaus Schulze or Michael Hoenig, not by a Federation parsec. In fact, Theo Travis is given much room to blow a la Dean and proceeds to do the deceased master proud, issuing gouts of dense lead lines while John Marshall rolls the landscape beneath him. Further good news is had in the fact that one-time short-term Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington, a lauded name in fusion music, is back in the four-string slot, anchoring the ensemble firmly.
Naturally, the inclusion of guitar is not something Soft Machine Mark II would have gone for, but later versions of the band were more than happy to induct one, giving Pierre Moerlen's hi-energy version of Gong a run for the money. The two competing juggernauts even happily shared the freelancing Allan Holdsworth, one of planet Earth's most esteemed riffmeisters, and set a trend long followed. Here, John Etheridge is more of the Miles mold, however, kinda like John McLaughlin in the early days crossed with Mike Stern of the later ensemble, of course with Etheridge's own firestorm Holdsworthian wont as well. Thus, be prepared for a CD of many turns, and don't become too relaxed within the deceptively mild commencement lest you find yourself at the mercy of the Red Queen's edict, losing your head.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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