Recorded at various European performances from the spring of 1972, this is a substantial addition to the catalog of a band that only put out two studio albums. The sound is good, and the performances almost wholly instrumental art jazz-rock, not far removed from those heard in the early 1970s by the Soft Machine, drummer/singer Robert Wyatt's previous band. It's electric pianist Bill McRae who wrote most of the material on this disc, and it's the sort of cerebral, intricate, serious fusion-y stuff that might appeal as much, or more, to jazzheads as to prog rockers. Wyatt goes off into some wordless scats at one point, but these aren't conventional rock-songs-with-lyrics at all. There is an admirable variety of textures with some distortion and buzzing, cooked up by McRae and guitarist Phil Miller, but it doesn't boast very accessible melodic ideas, preferring to furrow into angular and at times ominous progressions. The eerie, electronically treated vocal scatting on Wyatt's mischievously titled "Instant Pussy" is a highlight. Five of the nine songs, incidentally, do not appear on the band's studio albums.
Smoke Signals Review
by Richie Unterberger