1. Hidden Details
2. The Man Who Waved At Trains
3. Ground Lift
4. Heart Off Guard
5. Broken Hill
6. Flight Of The Jett
7. One Glove
8. Out Bloody Intro
9. Out Bloody Rageous (Part 1)
10. Drifting White
11. Life On Bridges
12. Fourteen Hour Dream
Recorded: December 20-22, 2017, Temple Music Studio, Surrey. Mixed by Andrew Tulloch at the Blue Studio, London, UK, 1/2/6 February 2018.
Mastered by Andrew Tulloch at the Blue Studio, London, UK, 10 May 2018.
Produced by Theo Travis & John Etheridge.
John Etheridge: electric & acoustic guitars
Roy Babbington: bass guitar
John Marshall: drums, percussion
Theo Travis: tenor & soprano sax, flute, Fender Rhodes
Nick Utteridge: wind chimes (track 13)
2lp version, limited edition, with marbled vinyl, Tone Float Records, Europe, 2018
Comes in a single sleeve with 2 discs
Comes in 3 versions:
- Orange vinyl, limited to 150 copies
- Blue vinyl, limited to 150 copies
- Orange and blue marbled vinyl, limited to 200 copies.
The vinyl version has six extra tracks (side four) which are not on the cd:
1. Only When
2. Green Collared Man
3. Ground Lift (Alternative Take)
4. Just Add Hock
6. Round The Corner
The Japanese cd version has a bonus track which is not on the 'normal' cd or the vinyl album:
14. Night Sky
Hopefully the cd buyers are rewarded with all the extra tracks on an extra disc in the near future! This music deserves it or us.
* Hidden Details is a new studio album of Soft Machine, recorded at the late great Jon Hiseman's Temple Studio in Surrey, England, last December 2017, and it will be released in September 2018 exactly 50 years since the release of the band's 1968 debut album The Soft Machine.
“'Hidden Details' is very much the product of an active, contemporary sounding outfit striking out with its own agenda. Though informed by the past, the music here is neither weighed down nor beholden to it. Animated with the same ineffable and inquisitive spirit that has always made this group throughout its fifty years such a compelling experience, it’' good to have a new Soft Machine with us in 2018. The yearning tenderness of 'Heart Off Guard' and the come-down reveries of 'Broken Hill' and 'Drifting White' showcase the more intimate aspects of Soft Machine's personality while in contrast, 'One Glove' gives the more pugilistic side of John Etheridge's playing an outing. The terse angularities of the title track and 'Life on Bridges' highlight a fearless disposition, as does the buzzsaw interplay heard during 'Ground Lift' and 'Flight of the Jett,' both featuring Roy Babbington's decisive interventions. The surging lyricism of 'Fourteen Hour Dream' flirts with an almost popish sensibility, underscoring the sense that this is a quartet that is fundamentally at ease with itself. The return of what some older fans of the band have called 'cosmic tinkles’'– the appearance of layers of cyclical electric piano motifs – is especially welcome. Their brief manifestation on 'The Man Who Waved at Trains' and Third-era, 'Out-Bloody-Rageous,' both stone-cold Mike Ratledge-composed classics, adds an extra spacey dimension to the overall sound. Travis' use of looping technology with his flutes creates its own beguiling world and can be heard to powerful effect on the beautiful and enigmatic 'Breathe,' where his hovering notes are underpinned by Marshall's oblique yet atmospheric percussion.” - Sid Smith
Soft Machine is a legend and an institution of British music, a band who included Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen, Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers, Andy Summers (later of The Police), Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Roy Babbington, John Marshall, Karl Jenkins, Allan Holdsworth, John Etheridge, Percy Jones, Rick Sanders, Dave McRae and Jack Bruce among others (Jimi Hendrix briefly jammed with the band in 1968!). Since its creation in 1966, this band pioneered Psychedelic and Progressive Rock, led the 'Canterbury' trend, pioneered jazz-rock, and then guitar-led fusion (launching the guitar god Allan Holdsworth in 1974), influenced generations of musicians. Disbanded in 1978, recreated in few occasions in 1981 and 1984, the band resurfaces in 1999 under the name of Soft Ware. Much was said about this band with a very complex intriguing history of constant personal changes during the 1966-1978 period. The band resurrected in 1999 under the name of Soft Ware, then as Soft Works 2002-2004 and Soft Machine Legacy 2004-2015. In December 2015, it was confirmed that the band had dropped the “Legacy” tag from their name, as the band featured three of the group's 1970s era members – guitarist John Etheridge, drummer John Marshall and bassist Roy Babbington (from the seminal 1976's album Softs), in addition to flute and sax player Theo Travis – returning to the original name from 2015, and performing numerous concerts all around Europe, South America and Japan.
* quoted from MoonJune website
| Who owns a name? It’s a
philosophical question. For some, Soft Machine stands for music from
the Sixties. For others, it is a kind of fusion music from the
Seventies. The last band had the same name as the first one, but none
of the involved musicians were the same. Mike Ratledge, the last
surviving original member, gave the name to the than present
incarnation of the band. In 1981 it was all over. Past members in
various combinations appeared under various names (to be found on this
website under ‘more machines’), but in 2015 the name was revived again
in its original glory.
Almost a senior member, drummer John Marshall has the longest history, being a member of Soft Machine since 1972. Yes, bassist Roy Babbington’s name appeared in the same year on Fourth (1972), but as a guest musician. He became a permanent member in 1973 with the recording of ‘Seven’. In Soft Machine terminology, guitarist John Etheridge is the youngest. He appeared in 1976 on ‘Softs’. Theo Travis didn’t appear on any of the ‘original’ Soft Machine records, but worked with Soft Machine Legacy from 2006 on. The current band exists from 2006, still under the name of Soft Machine Legacy. The ‘legacy’ part was left behind in 2015, leaving a new incarnation of Soft Machine and also bringing us a new record after 37 years! As you can see on the picture on the cd cover (left) the band grow older and maybe wiser as well. Wiser, because they included some older compositions on their new album ‘Hidden Details’, both being from Mike Ratledge: ‘The Man who Waved at Trains’ and ‘Out Bloody Rageous’. The link with the past is evident, thus bringing some older Soft Machine elements in a new Machine.
Although Hidden Details was recorded in 2017 it easily could fit in just after ‘Bundles (1975) - I think. It has the same gusto and bravery and gives us the same ‘feeling’. Sometimes the music is even more experimental than the previous Soft Machine records. The combination guitar-woodwinds links this band to all the bands in the past. It also fits easily in today’s music patterns in fusion.
The title track has a biting guitar solo but underneath it Babbington treats us with some nice fuzz bass patterns, which of course reminds us of the performances of the late Hugh Hopper.
The Man Who Waved at Trains has its theme played on flutes which adds a new dimension to it.
Ground Lift starts with experimental noises, after a while the track sounds like a track from Fifth. It ends with a nice soprano sax-guitar duet. Heart of the Guard is just acoustic guitar and soprano sax. The next step to Etika (remember Softs… - the album).
Broken Hill is a beautiful, almost romantic, you know that movie with the rain and the couple who fell in love or who just made up. In between are nice touches of Fender Rhodes, which sounds like some true vibes.
Flight of the Jett has the same feel as Fifth or Bundles; in fact it is a kind of drum solo with treated Rodes sounds. A Typical Marshall piece. One Glove fits all: tenor sax and guitar outings with some resemblance the opening track.
Out Bloody Intro/Rageous is minimal Rhodes like Third. The bass part which leads to Part 1 is pure nostalgia. Beautiful music and placed in another timeit still stands up.
Drifting White is a guitar solo much in pat Metheny style. Life on Bridges is not that what you thought it would be. The sort of late night beginning turns into a real guitar dominated nightmare. I wouldn’t trust the bridges too much. Wonderful track!
Fourteen Hour Dream almost takes of as an Eberhard Weber composition (listen to The Colours of Chloë: ‘No Motion Picture’ 1974). The dream is a nice one with flutes in the air and yet another fine guitar solo. Breathe is a slow piece, of course with (repetitive) flutes and soft percussion sounds in the background. A pleasant way to end the record.
Hidden Details bring ancient Soft Machine back in the present with an excellent album which truly stands out as a real Soft Machine album. Of course it’s all in the Hidden Details!
Paul Lemmens © 2018