Soft Machine Legacy – Burden Of Proof Album Review

Strange things happen if a band stays around too long.

Many are the bands that burn bright in their heyday only to break up and then reform for not much more than a paycheck. Then there are the ones that get back together because they still have something musical to say. Soft Machine Legacy are definitely in that latter camp. Also in respect to the former band members, the group has added legacy to their moniker to help distinguish between the past and the present.

Originally formed in Canterbury, England, the band was a forerunner to the progressive rock movement back in the sixties. They have a back catalogue imbued with wild unpredictability and musical adventurism and their present history and musical output is no less invigorating.

Building a sonic identity on a core line-up of bass, guitar and drums with the addition of a very talented multi-instrumentalist (in this case Theo Travis) who brings sax, flute and keyboards to the mix, gives the group the ability to go almost anywhere on the musical map. On Burden Of Proof they take full advantage of this opportunity.

The title track starts things off with the luminescent sparkle of Fender Rhodes notes and then builds and builds. Add the layering of sax notes and a bass line that is propulsive but completely in the pocket and the song continues its evolution. Include some deliciously clean guitar tones and you have an opening that is almost impossible not to jump through.

There are moments of quiet reflection (Kitto, Kings and Queens and set closer They Landed On A Hill), sleazy guitar and sax duets (Pie Chart) and even some crazy Jazz riffing (The Brief). Regardless of the genre tackled the playing is on point and the interplay between the musicians is sublime. There is also a sparseness to the production that is very inviting. The players understand that not every frequency needs to be filled with notes, so the notes they play stand out even more.

Burden Of Proof is a strong illustration that Soft Machine Legacy is a welcome addition to a current musical landscape that can use all the adventurist activity it can find.

Rob Hudson