Breda Reactor finds British jazz-rock outfit Soft Machine in one of its many transitional stages.
Between the septet that toured in late '69 and the emergence of the "classic" lineup-keyboardist
Mike Ratledge, saxophonist Elton Dean, bassist Hugh Hopper, and drummer/vocalist Robert
Wyatt-this incarnation was augmented by saxophonist/flautist Lyn Dobson. The quintet may
have only lasted three months, but Dobson possessed a strong voice, providing interesting
counterpoint to the more free-spirited Dean.
Recorded a month after the Croydon show documented on Cuneiform's Noisette, the set list
is similar, but the rapid pace at which this group was evolving-seemingly from night to
night-makes it an equally worthwhile experience for fans of this period. Unlike Noisette,
Breda Reactor is a double-disc release, providing the opportunity to hear two full sets,
in original running order. The inclusion of Hopper's classic epic, the nearly 22-minute
"Facelift," gives fans the opportunity to hear the piece in the context of the quintet,
and the two-minute excerpt from Ratledge's "Out-Bloody-Rageous" provides an insight
into a work in progress. The finished piece wouldn't show up in the group's repertoire
until a few weeks later, but it's the inclusion of this prototypical version that, perhaps
more than anything else, demonstrates how Soft Machine took risks night after night.
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