Their first album may have been issued 55 years ago, yet SOFT MACHINE don’t seem to be slowing down – and not only in terms of restless touring but also from the new releases point of view. Yes, there was a half-decade gap between the ensemble’s latest platter “Other Doors” from 2023 and its predecessor “Hidden Details” – their last with veteran bassist Roy Babbington, who retired in 2021 – only the band’s fresh recording will see the light of day very soon, on February 2nd.
It will not be a full-length offering, though, but a limited-edition vinyl 7″ single which will also be made available digitally – and it’s remarkable for a few reasons. First and foremost, the single presents the quartet’s current line-up – with Asaf Sirkis, who replaced the recently deceased John Marshall, joining John Etheridge, Theo Travis and Fred Thelonious Baker in the studio, after a spell on stage – yet then, the Canterbury collective have never been known for covering other musicians’ work, while this record’s A-side was written by Harry Beckett, Baker’s former employer.
Trumpeter Beckett, one of the giants of British jazz, passed away in 2010, having left behind an immense cache of tunes, including “The Dew At Dawn” that he laid down in 1975 and that become the focus of the My Only Desire label which lately started a series of platters where contemporary artists from the UK interpret their compatriots’ classics.
The inaugural title contained pieces by Keith Tippett and Elton Dean, another SOFTS alumnus, played by, respectively, Kevin Figes and YOU ARE HERE; and now there’s this. By the way, the B-side is a new take on the MACHINE’s own perennial.