Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz
November 30, 2023
Soft Machine's Other Doors is a compelling exploration into the progressive jazz-rock fusion realm, highlighting the band's evolution and continued dedication to innovative musical expression and capturing the essence of Soft Machine's improvisational brilliance. The record unfolds like a sonic journey, inviting listeners into a world of intricate compositions and virtuosic performances. What sets Other Doors apart is its raw energy and the band's ability to blend various musical elements seamlessly. Tracks such as "Kings and Queens" and the Kevin Ayers & Mike Ratledge classic "Joy of a Toy" convey the group's mastery of complex time signatures, captivating melodies, and the seamless interplay between instruments.
The band pushes the boundaries of their studio recordings, infusing each track with an organic dynamism and an electrifying sense of spontaneity. The musicianship on display, with John Etheridge's guitar wizardry, Theo Travis's saxophone prowess, and the rhythmic foundation of bassist Freddy Baker and drummer John Marshall, is nothing short of exceptional. Moreover, longtime Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington contributed to two tracks and sadly Marshall passed away on September 16, 2023.
Soft Machine's ability to traverse different musical landscapes within a single performance is evident throughout. From moments of serene introspection to frenetic improvisations, the album keeps listeners engaged and enthralled. Furthermore, the production quality captures the essence of the band's performance without compromising the clarity of each instrument. The mix allows each musician to shine while preserving the collective synergy that defines the group's delivery.
Overall, Other Doors stands as a testament to Soft Machine's enduring musical legacy via the artists' ability to innovate and captivate audiences with their intricate compositions and virtuosic performances, making it a must-listen for fans of progressive jazz-rock fusion.