Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Soft Machine: Switzerland 1974

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

You have to be an extremely confident unit-and one mother of a band-to turn up at a prestigious mega-gig like the Montreux Jazz Festival and drop a set of new material on the audience like the newly rejiggered Soft Machine did in July 1974. Turns out that material would go on to comprise 1975’s Bundles, a fusion juggernaut, but hey, props where props are due. And there should be no shortage of them with this set, as newly acquired guitarist Allan Holdsworth works himself in the Machine fold with the most well stocked of sonic quivers.

His riffs come from all directions, and opener “Hazard Profile” is a veritable Encyclopedia Britannica of fusion technique. Hammer-ons marry up with staccato fuzz, which eddies out into needle-like lines of extreme dexterity and delicacy. Enviable stuff in and of itself, but integrated into the band’s churning rhythmic approach-like they’re trying to outpace Bitches Brew-we have one mighty, thudding beast to contend with. A lot of that beast’s ferocity, as it were, comes courtesy of John Marshall’s kit work, as on the clattering “Land of the Bag Snake,” the titular creature being made to sound like it is thumping its way down electric stairs.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published