40. The Soft Machine, 'Third' (1970)
To quote Robert Wyatt's lyrics from Third's "Moon in June," Soft Machine specialized in "background noise for people scheming, seducing, revolting and teaching." Cosmically heady, unconventional to a fault, and often more audibly jarring than a piano dropped on top of a piano, the English instrumental savants' unvarnished tape collages make Pink Floyd songs sound like bubblegum. With four compositions nearly 20 minutes each, Third opens with the free-jazz menace of "Facelift," which is even more out-bloody-rageous than the cool-ambient freakout of "Out-Bloody-Rageous." Keyboardist Mike Ratledge spent the entire album going typically nuts. While Wyatt spoke in tongues, he and bassist Hugh Hopper made the aforementioned "June" sound like six Cream songs played simultaneously. "I work in a trance, don't really know what I'm doing 'til it's done," Wyatt has said. R.F.