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News, reviews, music and more about Theo Travis.

News Update October 2019

Apologies for the lack of updates this year, but things have been busy here and I am afraid I simply have not got round to it until now.

2019 kicked off with 3 more weeks of Soft Machine in the USA on our 50th Anniversary World tourWe have been continuing to promote the Hidden Details album. We played 2 nights in Los Angeles at the legendary Baked Potato club, 2 nights in Seattle, plus San Francisco, Santa Cruz and then flying to the East Coast of the USA, to Florida sailing from Tampa on the 'Cruise to the Edge', with amazing bands like Yes, Focus, Steve Hackett Band and Brand X. The tour was fantastic and we actually recorded various shows, so there will hopefully be an official live release sometime. Watch this space for news on that.

Apart from Soft Machine there have been some other jazz gigs mainly in and around London and I have also been writing and recording music for a couple of music production companies that supply music for TV programmes, documentaries and films. This has been both solo and collaborating with some wonderful composer/producer friends. That has been very creative and a lot of fun too. I have guested on some cool albums too, mainly recording at my home studio, including for an album by a great young singer/songwriter/guitarist from Yorkshire called Henry Parker who I met at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge when he supported a Soft Machine gig there in 2018. His genre is loosely like early John Martyn or Nick Drake and I think his music is excellent. So it was a real pleasure to contribute to his debut album 'Silent Spring'.

I continue to learn the wonderful musical instrument that is the duduk, a beautiful Armenian wooden woodwind instrument that can make such a mournful and sad yet beautiful sound. If you know either Peter Gabriel's 'Passion' - the soundtrack to the film 'The Last Temptation of Christ', or the soundtrack to the film 'Gladiator' you will probably have heard the evocative sound of the duduk. I have also been playing some guitar again and learning more about the cool music software that is Ableton Live. I have found it a very creative tool for composing new music too.

We are now in the Autumn 2019 UK Soft Machine tour and have introduced some cool new additions to the set, particularly from the album Seven (one of my favourites) which so far have worked well. I have also been writing some new material for the band and there is talk of going into the recording studio sometime next year (2020) for a new studio album which would be great. Hopefully see you somewhere on the tour, and do come and say hello!

Thanks for listening!

Cheers,

Theo

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2018 End of Year Roundup

So another year comes to a close. 2018 has been a great year for music for me. It started with some great jazz gigs with Ben Crosland and his Music of Ray Davies project. These were substituting for Dave O'Higgins who had other commitments. I always enjoy jumping into new musical experiences, often at short notice and this was no exception. 

There were only a few Double Talk gigs this year but each one was a corker and we started with a sold out London date at Finchley's Arts Depot which was fab. During the early part of the year I was heavily involved in the mixing, mastering and general production of the new Soft Machine album 'Hidden Details'. Also 'Between the Silence', the triple live CD of duo performances with Robert Fripp was completed and released.

Another exciting project was the trio of Apps on the Apple App store which I designed along with the excellent Peter Chilvers. Travis & Fripp I II and III were released in July - a new venture for me and something completely different. I was very happy to be involved in the new album by the Tangent called 'Proxy' and this has been getting great reviews. 

The summer and autumn saw the release of the new Soft Machine album (the first for 37 years) and an incredible world tour...Japan, Canada, America, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium, Norway, Italy and Austria. Amazing concerts and a fantastic reception for both the gigs and the new album. 

In December it was wonderful to play with Bill Nelson again (and Harold Budd and Dave Sturt) at his Plectronica event in Leeds. Plus there have been a couple of production music albums behind the scenes, more duduk learning and guesting on a few recording projects. So thanks for listening and looking forward to seeing you in 2019.

Happy New Year!
Theo x

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'Hidden Details' - Press Reviews

​I'm delighted to post reviews here in relation to Soft Machine's 'Hidden Details' release. First up is Brian Morton's fantastic review from The Wire, October 2018.

From The Times...

Since 1968 the band name Soft Machine has meant all sorts of things to all sorts of people. First came the psychedelic pranksters who vied with the Pink Floyd as freak-out favourites in underground London. As hip as hash cakes but unable to actually sell records, they made the farthest-out noises on John Peel's Top Gear show. The quartet also became the first "pop" band to play the Proms (and were briefly managed by Damon Albarn's dad).

Through the Seventies Soft Machine turned into an increasingly chin-strokey jazz-rock project before slowly expiring, out of tune with the punky times. Their last gasp proved to be the unlikely launch pad for Karl Jenkins, the lavishly moustached Adiemus composer beloved of Classic FM.

There have been some partial reunions (Soft Works, Soft Ware, Legacy) but now, 37 years since the last studio LP, the Soft Machine name has been fully resurrected by four very credible veterans from the myriad who served under the band's flag. Hidden Details features John Etheridge, guitar, Theo Travis, sax and flute, Roy Babbington, bass, and John Marshall, drums. It's a robust and engaging set that, incidentally, the bots at Amazon have filed under "rock". That's probably down to the muscular stomp of the opening title track, which features from Etheridge the sort of fret-melting guitar solo not heard since Frank Zappa's Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar.

The band, of course, has a broader palette — from Metheny-like jazz-rock to anything-goes improvisation; from pastoral passages with Etheridge on acoustic to an ambient flutescape from Travis. Compact and to the point, nothing overstays its welcome. There are faithful versions of two old favourites — Out Bloody Rageous and The Man Who Waved at Trains. That they sit well amid the new material suggest that this is a band looking back as much as forwards. That's hardly surprising when three quarters of the members are in their seventies (although you wouldn't guess from the rhythmic clout). The quartet are on tour, playing British dates in November. Welcome back, gents. (Dyad)

September 2018 issue of Shindig, our gratitude to Joe Banks

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Hidden Details - #1 Spot in Amazon UK Charts

The new Soft Machine album 'Hidden Details' has reached the Number 1 slot in the Amazon.co.uk Jazz Fusion chart.
It also reached Number 1 in the prestigious progressive radio chart from Philadelphia USA 'Gagliarchives' with Tom Gagliardi.

The album has been receiving rave reviews across the globe.

It is now on Spotify if you want to hear a preview. The orange and blue vinyl editions have now sold out but the marbled vinyl tour edition will be available on the tour and a black vinyl edition will also be released. See www.tonefloat.com.

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Soft Machine Across the World. Part 3

Bullet trains, planes and Osaka. 31 July 2018

I have been so used to waking up ridiculously early that I did not set my alarm clock for the 10am lobby call to give out luggage to the staff taking it to the airport. Well, you guessed it. I woke up at 9.50am. I threw some clothes on and packed my suitcase and charged down to the lobby. It was all fine so I grabbed breakfast (marvellous, but a bit rushed today), and went back to my room as we were not leaving until 11am. Then off to the bullet train to Osaka. Very comfortable, very fast and cool to see lots more of Japan if only through a train window, and at high speed. We passed Mount Fuji, but annoyingly missed it as we must have been chatting. I did still have a photo on my phone of when we passed it on the Softs tour of 2015, so that will have to do!

We arrived in Osaka and the weather was hot. I mean...HOT. The forecast is for it to get even hotter. About 100 degrees Fahrenheit infact. On reaching the hotel we checked in and waited for the luggage. My case was delivered to my room, and 20 mins later John Marshall knocked on my door asking if I had received my case. He had not...Reception did not know about his case either. I went down to reception with him to talk to the staff about this. After much confusion, several anxious calls and Skype calls with interpreters, we found that some cases had been delivered to the wrong rooms and some instruments had been taken direct to the venue. So thankfully nothing was actually lost this time. But for a while hearts sunk, particularly John Marshall's as he had already lost his bags once on this tour. We grabbed a light late lunch and coffees at the hotel. We have many interesting conversations in this band and one we had then was about whether a certain well known musician who some of the guys had played with and who is no longer with us could be said to have had a 'life well lived' and what that actually means. Does it mean achieving great things or being a universally acclaimed pioneer in your field (music in theirs), success whether artistic or financial, personal happiness, or just making the most of what you have and who you are. There were arguments on both sides as to whether this artist could be said to have had a life well lived, and it did make me think about the rather fundamental issue of living one's life and all that that entails.

People sometimes say to me 'How do you get your gigs? Do you have an agent?'. The answer, as far as Soft Machine is concerned is simple - Leonardo 'Moonjune' Pavkovic. Leonardo is an amazing enabler, facilitator, a massive music fan and a man who makes things happen. He has loads of energy, puts an enormous amount of work in, and is very generous too. Without Leonardo I am not sure this band would even exist now. So mucho gracias to Leonardo!

For our evening's entertainment on our night off before the Osaka gig, we all went to see Gary Husband's solo show in Osaka at Mr Kelly's jazz club. He is playing piano, keyboards, percussion and a special hybrid drum kit that enables hm to play parts of it whilst playing the piano or other instruments. On the way there, Leonardo pointed out a bizarre building that he said is one of his favourites in Osaka. It is a high rise office building with a road running through it. The city was building a new raised highway through Osaka and it needed to pass through where this building is. The building owner refused to have it demolished, and eventually a compromise was reached whereby this main road actually went through the building. How weird is that!? We arrived at Mr Kelly's just before Gary went on for his first set. He played two full sets and the music was extraordinary and wonderful. If you get a chance to see his solo show I strongly recommend you do.

Today I got up for breakfast and had a quick shower first. To understand how the shower controls worked you needed a degree in mechanical engineering. I pulled and twisted all the handles and knobs but could only get the bath tap to work, not the shower. Giving up, I clambered under the bath tap for a sort of shower before getting out. On turning off the tap however, the shower spontaneously started working! Oh well...Breakfast was OK but certainly not up to Roppongi standards.

We went to the venue for soundcheck at 2pm and got everything ready for the gig. Billboard Osaka is very like the one in Tokyo but a slightly better layout. The two gigs went very well and the new tunes really felt like they had bedded in, and the set orders were honed too. A great audience, many who bought CDs and waited in an orderly queue for us to sign afterwards. The whole organisation of this tour has been fantastic and the Japanese promoter and clubs superb. A final end of tour drink and now getting ready for tomorrow morning's flight back to London, again via Frankfurt. I do hope this one goes smoothly...

Some good friends are staying with us at home and then off for a family holiday before the next leg of the tour in Norway and Central Europe. Japan has been a blast and I look forward to the next visit whenever that may be.

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