|Ever since I turned thirteen, I
saw and heard a great deal of concerts and performances. Part of
that was live, but a much bigger part I witnessed through
television. I seem to forget those TV-registered concerts almost
immediately, but there is one that made such an impression that I
still can remember merely every little detail of it. It took
place in the autumn of 1969 and it looked, to say the least, a bit
poor up to modern standards. The equipment of the band existed of
one simple drum kit, one electric piano, an organ and a bass guitar.
Only keyboards and bass guitar were amplified. The speakers stood on
both sides of the drum kit and next to it, on two cafeteria chairs,
were the Marshall amplifiers. The musicians looked so different
from each other that one could hardly speak of a group. The
drummer wore a blue and white, vertical striped pyjama jacket and
white trousers. He had long blond hair and the beginning of a beard.
The person who played the organ and the, on top of that stacked,
piano, showed himself in a black leather jacket and ditto trousers, a
red shawl, half long dark brown hair and tiny sunglasses. The bass
player wore a roughly woven Peruan shirt and petrol blue corduroy
trousers. On his head, there was a flaming red Basque beret. He wore
glasses, had a moustache and half long curly hair. We didn’t have
colour TV at the time, but the photograph in the TV-guide
compensated a lot. I still have that picture.
The presentation, with the bass player standing with his back to the camera (but, by doing so, fully concentrated on his co-musicians) did arouse high expectations of their music. Was it music? Fragments of pop and sometimes even a real song about ordinary situations, so basically not that special, but just because of it very special indeed: rock, jazz, electronic, improvisation, sound experiments and on top off that solo’s, a lot of long solo’s from a mean and tearing organ and a much meaner and even more tearing, regular interrupting, fuzz bass and all of the time those smooth, almost swinging drums. The drummer sang, where after, whenever he’d finished his lines, he pushed away the microphone with a robust smack – which made the mike sweep out of vision – and indulged himself to the drums. The drum solo therefore was bewildered. There was clicking, drumming, beating and stroking against everything what happened to be nearby the drum kit. A towel, hang over a drum, made the sound dim and softer, cymbals murmured, trembled, shivered and at times the cymbals as well as the drums were covered in echo’s.
The music was like an energy balloon thrown into space, and I caught it. After this brief concert I was spelled. This TV-performance was – as I found out later – an introduction to Soft Machine´s second album “Volume Two”. Despite the rambles and strange music paths they walked later on, I still have (but I guess that doesn’t surprise anyone) a weakness for this particular album of Soft Machine. Fortunately, I did listen.
Text from booklet: “Verloren Herinneringen (Lost Memories) ” by Paul Lemmens, © Paul Lemmens, 1996