Experimental, Fusion, Instrumental, Technical
"Soft Machine remains faithful to the jazz rock of its origins, and with "Other Doors" delivers an album that is rather calm but lacking in depth."
CORTO1809 (05.07.2023)  
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At 55 years old, Soft Machine is one of the oldest bands still in existence, alongside Yes and Deep Purple. Of course, with such longevity, there have been many personnel changes, and no member of the original band is present in the current line-up. Nevertheless, the musicians have passed the torch from album to album, preserving the style of their origins over the decades.

"Other Doors", released five years after "Hidden Details", does not upset this tradition. Soft Machine perpetuates a rather quiet jazz-rock style, with plenty of improvisation and impeccable technique. As usual, this demanding musical style is aimed at accustomed ears and minds willing to accept a few bends in harmony.

Lovers of constructed melodies will find very little to sink their teeth into, as most of the tracks consist of more or less lengthy improvisations by electric guitar, bass, saxophone and flute, interspersed with a few experimental passages. Among the successes, the more atmospheric, even evanescent tracks exude a sense of well-being and calm ('Careless Eyes', 'A Flock of Holes', 'Whisper Back', 'The Visitor at the Window'). In contrast, the destructured improvisations of 'Crooked Usages', 'Fell to Earth' (despite its inspired sax intro/outro) and 'Maybe Never' are perfectly dull, leaving the impression that everyone is playing in their own corner without caring about the others.

Other, more melodious improvisations unfortunately turn into vain technical demonstrations ("See how well I play!"), like the long bass solo on 'Now! Is the Time', whose only excuse is to be Roy Babbington's 83-year-old farewell to Soft Machine after 52 years of loyal service. It's finally on the final track, 'Back in Season', that Soft Machine show what any good improvisation-based song should be: a complicity between the musicians giving off an atmosphere that stimulates the listener's imagination.

"Other Doors" (with its superb, colorful cover) is not Soft Machine's best album, but it's not a bad one either. The majority of the tracks are pleasant to listen to, but not thrilling, the few purely experimental ones proving more irritating than disturbing, and failing to play their role as spice. The album's very calm tempo and padded tones will encourage some to daydream and send others into a deep sleep.
- Official website

01. Careless Eyes (02:28)
02. Penny Hitch (06:49)
03. Other Doors (04:51)
04. Crooked Usage (08:29)
05. Joy of a Toy (03:24)
06. A Flock of Holes (02:18)
07. Whisper Back (01:41)
08. The Stars Apart (04:23)
09. Now! Is the Time (02:16)
10. Fell to Earth (05:51)
11. The Visitor at the Window (04:08)
12. Maybe Never (02:26)
13. Back In Season (07:17)

Fred Baker: Basse
John Etheridge: Guitares
John Marshall: Batterie
Theo Travis: Saxophones / Flûtes / Fender Rhodes / Effets Électroniques
Roy Babbington: Invité / Basse (2,9)
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Franchement, quel ennui que l'écoute de cette galette.
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