Included CD-Rom
LIVE AT HENIE ONSTAD ART CENTRE 1971

Set One - continuous set, including
1. Facelift
2. Virtually
3. Slightly all the Time
4. Fletcher's Blemish

Set Two - continuous set, including
1. Neo-Caliban Grides
2. Out Bloody Rageous
3. Eamonn Andrews
4. All White
5. Kings and Queens
6 .Teeth
7. Pigling Bland

Recorded: February 28th, 1971 at Henie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden, Norway
Released: 2009

Robert Wyatt: drums, voice
Mike Ratledge: keyboards
Hugh Hopper: bass
Elton Dean: alto sax, saxello, keyboard


2lp-version (Smalltown Superjazz - 2010)



Born of the Beat Generation & Beat music, sacrificed on the clichéd tracks of jazz-fusion, the music in between by the classic quartet of keyboardist Mike Ratledge, saxophonist Elton Dean (1945-2005), bass guitarist Hugh Hopper (1945-2009) and drummer Robert Wyatt is mercurial genius manifest. That the recordings made of Britain's Soft Machine remain as rewarding and inspirational today as the moment of their making, qualifies the group's international stature as the most expressively intelligent of rock music's progressive epoch. Still and all, a creative apex where the music attained a "whole greater than its sum parts," occurred on the evening of February 28th, 1971 at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Oslo, Norway. Here, the group was afforded a rare crucible for their collective creativity by virtue of an intimate concert space, accurate amplification, and an appreciative audience. Also in Henie Onstad for his own art exhibition was Soft Machine's friend Mark Boyle (1926-2005), who projected his sensory films during this concert. Thankfully, the performance was professionally recorded using classical ambient technique, and safely archived until the Henie Onstad Art Centre, and the musicians, granted Reel Recordings the honor and responsibility to present this magnificent recording for CD release. The results sound as demonstrably the finest stereo recording of Soft Machine ever captured on tape. To celebrate and contextualize this 2CD release, a CD-ROM including extensive notes and concert photographs is included, in addition to an extensive essay; The Soft Machine Sound: An Electronic Acoustic Experience Examined, chapters on Mark Boyle's light shows by Sebastian Boyle, a transcript of the Soft Machine's 1970 experimental BBC Radiophonic Workshop session, and numerous photographs of Mark Boyle's art exhibition and Soft Machine's concert at Henie Onstad Art Centre. Live At Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971 is not simply another fascinating addition to a series of archival Soft Machine releases; it stands as nothing less than a gift.

Reel Recordings is pleased to announce the imminent release of, what is in our experience, the finest recording of the classic Soft Machine quartet ever committed to tape. There was never another band that rose to the heights that Mike Ratledge, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, and Robert Wyatt did, nor are succinct descriptions of their music applicable here. Therefore, with much to celebrate about this exciting double cd set, we have complimented this simply stunning concert performance with a specially designed CD-ROM. This colourfully presents an extensive eight-chapter essay: The Soft Machine Sound: An Acoustic Electronic Experience Examined, replete with previously unseen photos and unheard recording extracts. Hats off to the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Oslo, Norway for allowing our label of love to care for their extraordinary direct-to-Studer, two- track ambient recording. Additionally, we offer our deeply felt appreciation to Robert and Mike, as well as Elton's and Hugh's estate, for their enthusiastic approval. We hope we have done justice to the distinguished history of the Henie Onstad Art Centre and the Soft Machine recorded legacy, with the listeners’ approval in mind.

* text from Reel Recordings website (with thanks)
On the day Fourth was released Soft Machine performed in Høvikodden, Norway. It was a very special occasion for the Henie Onstad Art Centre. It was a place for modern arts and music and with old light-friend Mark Boyle producing his miraculous light show it seemed to be a combination of the two. All chairs were removed, so the audience could sit or lay down. The space was perfect for a good concert, with good sound as well. Soft Machine hadn’t visited Norway before and the band wasn’t well known. They played two nights, 27 and 28 February, but the found tapes are from the set on February 28th. Both concerts were sold out and the audience had some special evenings. On both evenings Soft Machine performed two continuous sets, which are released on the two discs. The first set included: Facelift, Virtually, Slightly all the Time and Fletcher's Blemish. Set two: Neo-Caliban Grides, Out-Bloody-Rageous, Eamonn Andrews, All White, Kings and Queens, Teeth and Pigling Bland. All compositions had been on the playlist already; although some were performed more often. All ‘Fourth’- tracks were performed, a couple of Third and again All White and Pigling Bland, which would appear on Fifth. But it wasn’t like other concerts; there was more space, a more relaxed approach and much more freedom. Because of that the music was lifted to a higher level. As Hans Voigt writes in his liner notes: “No one leaving the Art Centre that night was disappointed”. And if that wasn’t enough an extra CD-ROM is added into the package with two long articles about recording techniques and a history of electronic music in a nutshell. There are some pictures of the band and some of the Henie Onstad Centre. But it is all about the music of course. If you like Grides, you’ll like this one for sure. They are two of the best releases of Soft Machine in this setting. But things would change in the near future.

Paul Lemmens © 2014