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 Also included is a CD-ROM detailing band history with a few unpublished photos.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

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dwight Ashley & Tim Story - Standing + Falling – Tim Story has released a volume of minimalist, ambient, and electronic works going back to his early 80s albums on the Eurock label – In Another Country being a standout, later moving to Hearts...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues