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  Dobson's voice - Melody Maker - January 31, 1970

MUSIC IS the only means of enlightenment for this century." Thus spake Lyn Dobson, multi-instrumentalist and thinker, formerly of Group Sounds Five and Manfred Mann and now ensconced in the rapidly rising Soft Machine.

" I'm interested In finding the central core of music," he says. " It can all be traced back through primitive folk music to the central core, which is basically a drone and a polyrhythmic structure.

" Jazz doesn't mean anything much to me now, apart from people who have transcended it, like John Coltrane. The problem of jazz is that it falls into an ego trap.

" People use jazz to prove how clever they are, but you can do more with one note than with any amount of clever phrases. I've been through years of playing fast, using other people's licks, but It never means anything.

"The quality of sound is what really matters, and that's what I'm working on with the Soft Machine. Playing with electric instruments is different — it changes the whole nature of the horns.

" You have to come to terms with the sensual nature of the instrument like the sitar which is my main thing now although I don't play it in the band.

"If the sitar is played badly and is wrongly tuned it means nothing and can hardly be heard, but if the strings are all in sympathy you can hear it — 20 miles away.

" I never really got into music until I started meditating on my own about four years ago . . . but I don't want to sound pretentious about that.

"You know the open air is really the place to play. One of my ambitions is to make an LP out of doors. That's the feeling you have to try and recreate when you're playing an electric horn in a concert hall.

" At the Fairfield Hall the Soft Machine and the audience really came to terms with the environment, and when it's like that I don't feel that I'm a musician on the stage entertaining a lot of spectators. It has to be a total communication thing.

" The whole structure of groups and concerts is artificial Music is a thing in which everybody ought to partake. I've been busking, not for the bread, but to bring music to people in the most unlikely situations.

" I've sat in Tube stations playing and I really turned on people who never dream of going to a pop concert.

" The majority of people playing jazz are happy to make it musically a minority thing. But music isn't valid until it's out in the open. Otherwise it's as ridiculous as a religion which a few people set up for themselves alone, not letting anyone else participate.


" Music has got to be destructive rather than creative, and although it's necessary to express hate occasionally, it's the love thing that really matters.

"Steve Marriott taught me a hell of a lot when I played with Humble Pie." (It was on their first album) " He has no technique really, but he's an incredible musician and I really respect him. he knows instinctively how to tune a guitar and make it resonate, and he can create that feel that makes everyone want to get up and dance round the room.

" The Soft Machine are trying to arrive at that point by complex intellectual approach, but they are aware of the intuitive thing too, so it still comes out pretty basic. And with the group I've also got a chance to get into my own things at the same time. For instance I want to do an album of my own songs, using sitar.

'* Indian music is the most simple music ever, although it seems so complex, and it hasn't changed for hundreds of years. Ragas aren't discovered by intellect — they're really natural law, which is unchangeable.

" About 18 months ago I decided what I'm going to do, and onece I've said what I want to say I'll disappear off to the hills to jam with Indian musicians!"

Richard Williams

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