B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 06/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, going into the Soft Machine album "Third", I had no prior experience with the band. Listening to this album for the first time... I think I finally flipped my lid! This is either some of the most exciting and complex music I've ever heard, or the most messed up thing on the planet. I can't decide which!
The disc consists of only four songs, each one nearly 20 minutes in length, all conveniently put onto a single disc to avoid all those double-disc problems that many of us face in our lives each and every day. You know, having to get up to put in disc 2 after the first disc has finished playing (In the year 2007? Come on now!).
The album starts off with a song called "Facelift". I think the look on my face has been changed permanently after hearing this lengthy thing-a-ma-jig. It starts with a bunch of noise that lasts for about 5 minutes, then goes into a pretty good flute solo, and then an even better saxophone solo. A pretty good song that actually scared me at first into thinking the entire song would be nothing but noise. Thankfully that wasn't the case. I wouldn't be surprised if many people actually turned the album off after those beginning 5 minutes, expecting the entire disc to be nothing but a marathon of noise.
Next comes "Slightly All the Time". Okay, nothing weird about this song. A pretty good upbeat rhythm going on in the background, with a good jazzy selection of instruments dominating the beginning portion. Flutes soon follow. Are they good? Yuppers. I really like this song. There was a Seals & Crofts song that came out in the late 70's called "Sunrise" that really reminds me of a few of the jazzy sections. Of course, no one would know that song because it was never issued on CD, so you're going to have to take my word for it. Don't think Seals & Crofts is just some old, wimpy soft rock act either. No way, baby. Anyway, it will take a long time before I can memorize every note of "Slightly All the Time". A REAL long time. The part at the end where it speeds up really frightens me, for some reason.
I also want to mention the production of Third. Some people have a problem with the way this album was recorded. True- it's dark, dated, and sounds like it was recorded in the corner of a dirty basement where the spiders and bats like to hang out (next to the hot water heater and the murky paint chips on the wall). After a while, however, you get used to the sound, and begin to enjoy it. Accept it for what it is, and it will accept you for what you are, that being a human being (though some of the music is so unordinary that it's easy to forget you are in fact a human being, ha!)
Next up is "Moon In June". Strange song indeed, but by now you should be well aware that NOTHING about this album is ordinary, and it's not going to get any easier as the disc goes on. By the way, I didn't realize until after I ordered Third that there's actually a song title with the word "June" in it, and it just so happens I bought this album in June. Anyway, I don't know what this song is. It's something strange. I think those are organs in the beginning, with really soft and high-pitched vocals dominating the first few minutes. It's actually really melodic and unlike anything I've ever heard before. That's how you make me dream- just make things different, and my mind will do the walkin'. It works! There's also tricky drum beats and rhythm changes that, again, are about the strangest things I've ever heard. When the singing parts come in, the music almost stops playing completely. I think the band members are going out of their way to play games with my head. Toying with the way you can put notes together, making it as weird as you possibly can. I can't put into words how unusual the tune is. Just hear it! After the song is finally over, I realize you do NOT have to be on drugs to get into music like this!
After track 3 has finished, I now wonder if this music was mainly intended for people who can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. At this moment in time, I honestly can't. I was normal before I played the album, just an hour ago! What happened!
"Out-Bloody-Rageous" is next. Oh boy, just by the song title alone I'm expecting to never properly fall asleep again (or if I do, I'll be abducted by aliens). Starts off *very* mellow for a few minutes (no sign of my sanity disappearing). I'm beginning to wonder if the song title is some kind of reverse psychology thing, where the quietest song in the world has the craziest song title in an attempt to trick the listener! 5 minutes in, and upbeat rhythm sections and jazzy instrumentation is starting to become the main focal point. I can't tell whether I'm hearing violins and pianos in the background, but whatever it is, it's good! Jamming done right!
Anyway, if it wasn't for the fact that the music is so interesting to listen to, it's possible one might mistake the disc for background music. That's not the case. There's WAY too many interesting musical ideas taking place. I love this album. I really do. I can't see myself ever getting rid of it, ever. I'm happy I have it. It's also one of the best jam records I've ever listened to. Fascinating is the only word that comes to mind to describe it. You MUST listen to it."