Exposé Online banner

Soft Machine — Live at Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971
(Reel Recordings RR014/015, 1971/2009, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Jeff Melton, Published 2011-06-01

Live at Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971 Cover artThe challenge for any archivist of the Soft Machine catalog has been to present just what it was like to attend a performance by the classic line-up of Wyatt, Dean, Ratledge, and Hopper. Now with half the band spreading joyful noise in the heavens, the delicate ears of Mike King have seen fit to release the ultimate Soft Machine archive concert from a small Norwegian museum in late winter of 1971. Close similarities to Cuneiform’s Virtually release (recorded only a month later on the tour) abound, and in fact it's a similar set list; but the impact of this performance comes closest to the "you are there in person" aspect of a real performance. The quartet are a well-oiled telepathic mechanism that swerves between familiar melodies and improvisations like no other band. Sonically the mix is brash and in your face, with the quartet steamrolling through their two super medleys at breakneck pace, finding recognizable themes amid whirlwind improvisation. Ratledge's fuzzed-out Lowery organ is the band's trademark stamp, while Dean's familiar saxello and alto sax appear periodically to inject a strong melodic component or counterpoint the keys. Rather than indexing the disc every time the band changes themes or tempo – like so many live Soft Machine discs do - King has wisely just indexed the beginning of each of the long continuous sets (39 and 55 minutes respectively, with the latter including the encore) which ultimately makes more sense. Also included is a CD-ROM detailing band history with a few unpublished photos.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2009 releases, 1971 recordings

Related artist(s): Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, Soft Machine

Latest news

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

William Sheller - Lux Aeterna – Lux Aeterna is one of the few successful early examples of the fusion of rock music and orchestra. Masterminded by William Sheller, who at the time was a successful French singer, he composed and...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues