You’ve probably never heard of Soft Machine, but you’re not alone — even during the band’s peak during the late ’60s and early ’70s, Soft Machine kept a low profile. Still, this lack of prestige belies the incredible influence that Soft Machine had on the emergence of psychedelic music and progressive rock. Named after The Soft Machine by William Burroughs, Soft Machine (initially billed as The Soft Machine) was formed in 1966 by Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Daevid Allen and Mike Ratledge. With Wyatt’s husky voice and the band’s penchant for creating dreamy, repetitive soundscapes, Sound Machine quickly became a favorite of Europe’s art crowd and went on to share the same management team as Jimi Hendrix. The band also appeared, uncredited, on Syd Barrett’s solo album, “The Madcap Laughs” (1970). Despite numerous line-up changes over its career, Soft Machine produced twelve albums — named “Volume One” (1968), “Volume Two” (1969), “Third” (1970), “Fourth” (1971) and so on — and countless studio albums. The group also transfigured into daughter acts Soft Works and the Soft Machine Legacy. To this day, Soft Machine’s music influences progressive rock, jazz fusion and — as always — psychedelic rock.
Check out this recording of “Slightly All the Time” to hear for yourself how successfully Soft Machine managed to span genres.