Soft Machine Noisette

It might be 30 years after the fact, but it's never too late for indulging in the marvels of the UK art rock outfit Soft Machine. Noisette was professionally recorded at a UK performance at the beginning of 1970 and up to this point in time only the track "Facelift" (which appears in a reprocessed version on the Thrid album) was ever used. Although the band first formed in the mid-'60s, Noisette documents a time when the group was in transition from the progressive rock of their landmark Volume Two album, toward the jazz rock fusion that would become their eventual trademark. Trance-heavy rock jams explode into outright wig-outs featuring Mike Ratledge's very identifiable electric piano noodlings, the horn section of Elton Dean and Lyn Dobson, Hugh Hoppers linchpin bass work and Robert Wyatt's spontaneous vocal spasms (which take a back seat throughout most of this recording) and ever-present busy drum work. This ultimately turned out to be Wyatt's final tour with the band, unhappy with the jazz-heavy direction the band was heading in while the band had become less interested in his peculiar vocal experimentation. Although much of the material here is represented on the band's first two studio albums, a couple tracks, like "12/8 Theme" and "Mousetrap," never found their way to studio recordings. (Cuneiform)