In terms of underground Pop Music, the first place is no longer discussed at the SOFT MACHINE.
Much more than the Pink Floyd, they are violently present at the beginning of the musical adventure (concert and research pop music) and at its current outcome:
All perfectly masters of their instrument and endowed with a solid musical background (which, at the start, allowed them to play together), they could as well have made a fortune by embarking on a pop-commercial career.
They preferred to remain faithful to the spirit that drives them and continue their research without concessions.
About their latest double album “Third”:
"There, always. In your ear. The uncertain hummings—hesitated, broken then resumed—the blank voice; fragments of choruses, rooster of half-forgotten curtains, thongs at the top of their voices or whispers, whistles, "for nothing" you say, if not to light up the darkness of the corridors, to gather dreams and with sleep. Listen to the dreams, go to the other side of the mirror. From there your astonished gaze will discover the unthinkable beauty: noise and music are one and the same thing. But to speak of it was still to trust the words—thus in a certain "Kultur" way. Only music by its own (beautiful) convulsion could deliver the secret of its origin: that it is only noise.
"Facelift" is not the ascent of music towards light, but the convulsion of noise "turned into" music. "Become" by the derisory magic of a word. Where does the noise end, where does the music begin? Where day, where night? Wyatt under the pale light of June "Moon in june" in muezzin. The white voice hesitated with a torn psalmody on such a ridiculous question. Under cover of the night we release this desire to sing that Music (the one written with a capital M) forbids us. Thanks to dreams (everyone sings like Wyatt, beauty is everywhere, in you, by you, light and shadow don't matter). Subversion of/by music. You have always been singing; it was therefore not for “nothing”.
(excerpt from "Rock and Folk)
Currently the group consists of:
Mike Ratled (organ and piano), Robert Wyatt (drums and vocals), Hugh Hopper (bass guitar) and a saxophonist.
The birth of the group dates back to 1959 and the city of Canterbury where four musicians met for the first time: Hugh Hopper (bass), Brian Hopper (clarinet, tenor), Mike Ratledge (piano) and Robert Wyatt (drums). Brian and Mike had nine years of classical music behind them, Robert a few years of lessons with George Neidoff, American drummer. All heavily influenced by jazz, they admired Cecil Taylor for his attack and the freedom of his harmonies, Omette Coleman and John Coltrane for the use they made of their rhythm sections. However, Brian and Mike continued to play classical music, for example violin sonatas by Milhaud or Bartok arranged for clarinet!
1961. David Allen, guitarist and Australian poet joins the group which becomes the "David Allen Quartet" (Ailen, Hopper, Ratledge, Wyatt) which performs in London as well as at the Live New Departures Concert. The music that the group played then had the same structures as today, although more oriented towards jazz. The public remaining completely indifferent there, the group broke up, David returned to Majorca, Mike to Oxford, Hugh and Robert, back in Canterbury, formed the "Wild Flowers" with Kevin Ayers and Brian Hopper and played original but inspired pieces. Beatles music!
Majorca. David and Kevin meet again, fly to England, are joined by an American guitarist, Larry Knowlin, then by Robert and Mike who had just finished his studies in psychology and philosophy at Oxford. The group is first called "Mr.Head", then, with the approval of William Burroughs, "The Soft Machine". As Jean-Jacques Lebel underlined so well in his introduction to the work of Burroughs ("The poetry of the Beat Generation"): "The soft machine works in effect on the model of the world, it is a machine break the nucleus of atoms, to destructure and rebuild".
Larry having left the group due to musical disagreement, David Allen becomes soloist and Kevin takes the bass. Robert begins to sing and Mike buys an organ. The SOFT MACHINE inaugurates the UFO in the company of the other great English underground group, the Pink Floyd. Soft Machine becomes a trio that performs at the Edinburgh Festival and performs the musical part of Ubu at the Paris Biennale. The SOFT MACHINE then flew to the USA with the Jimi Hendrix tour and took the opportunity to record an LP for ABC.
Since then, every concert, every LP, every festival affirms them as the undisputed masters of English prospective pop music, collaboration with contemporary music composer Terry Tiley, with various modern Jazz musicians, Thelonious Monk, the authority on the subject , the reference...
THE SOFT MACHINE
In Brussels at the 140 theatre, on January 14 and 15 at 8.30 p.m. in Liège, at the conservatory, on January 17 at 8 p.m., with the collaboration of the Jeunesses Musicales.
Rental open at the 140 theater from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tel: 34.46.31, except Sunday
Next POP concerts at 140: Rental open for all these concerts.