Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Soft Mountain

Soft Mountain
Hux Records HUX084

Touring Japan in 2003 under the identity of ‘Soft Works’, Soft Machine’s Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean stopped-off at Gok studio in Tokyo on 10th August for two ad-hoc sessions with composer/keyboardist Hoppy Kamiyama. Though not quite in the league of Sun Ra in terms of prolific output, Kamiyama’s career has yielded some two hundred albums of “art-noise-punk-funk,” making him the perfect foil for Dean and Hopper’s more avant-garde experimentalism.

With Ruins and Acid Mothers Temple drummer Yoshida Tatsuya completing the quartet, named after the English translation of Kamyama’s name (‘God Mountain’), they improvised two forty-five minute jams of free-form jazz, which have been condensed down onto this release as Soft Mountain Suite PT.1 and PT.2.

The first cut (running at 30.40) is a cool late-night jazz blow, centred on Dean’s saxophone playing, whilst the other (at 27.55) is a more percussive piece shared between Hopper’s bass and Tatsuya’s busy drumming. Captured whilst Dean and Hopper were on their way to re-establishing Soft Works as the Soft Machine Legacy Project, it’s by its nature at times an uncomfortable and discordant recording. But it’s also an absorbing insight into a couple of hours spent playing outside, or around, the dots.

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