Soft Machine Legacy - Live Adventures
"With the untimely passing in June 2009 of the brilliant and widely mourned bassist/composer Hugh Hopper, Soft Machine Legacy lost its last link to the formative 1960s incarnations of Soft Machine. Happily – and in a fitting case of déjà vu – his place has been taken by the only other bassist capable of filling the role, Roy Babbington, who after having made cameo appearances on Soft Machine’s 4 and 5 went on to replace Hopper as the group’s regular bassist from 1973-76. A prodigious player and improviser, Babbington injects fresh energy and musical intelligence into a lineup that already boasts such formidable instrumentalists as drum statesman John Marshall, guitar sorcerer John Etheridge, and woodwind player extraordinaire Theo Travis, who, while the only Soft Machine Legacy member that is not a Soft Machine alumnus, clearly has fully internalized the SM ethos. On their rousing new live disc for MoonJune (recorded during the European tour in October of 2009), Live Adventures, Soft Machine Legacy covers more vintage Soft Machine repertoire than on previous releases, yet reinvigorates the tunes by means of fresh arrangements and expansive, protean improvisation. Soft Machine partisans will rejoice at the inclusion of such repertory gems as “Gesolreut”, in which the band lays bare the funky heart of its signature elliptical ostinato with steaming soli and propulsive grooves; “As If”, an oblique rereading of the Mike Ratledge piece marked by spectral guitar shadings and Travis’s shakuhachi-like flute etchings; and the stirring, elegiac “Song of Aeolus”. And fittingly, the band pays heartfelt tribute to the dearly departed Hugh Hopper with a rendition of his iconic “Facelift”, artfully investigating the intricate twists and turns of its singular long-form melody. This is no potted history of Soft Machine, but a living, breathing music."