Starting in the Middle of the Day, We Can Drink Our Politics Away

Matching Mole
Little Red Record
Columbia (COL 471488-2)
UK 1972

Dave McRae, Grahnd Piahno, electric piano, Hammond Organ; Robert Wyatt, drums, mouth; Phil Miller, guitars; Bill MaCormick, bass; with Brian Eno, synthesizer

1. Starting in the Middle of the Day, We Can Drink Our Politics Away – 2:31
2. Marchides – 8:25
3. Nan True’s Hole – 3:36
4. Righteous Rhumba – 2:50
5. Brandy as in Benj – 4:24
6. Gloria Gloom – 8:06
7. God Song – 2:59
8. Flora Fidgit – 3:26
9. Smoke Signal – 6:37

“The second Matching Mole studio album is generally considered to be the more consistent of the two they released. Also of interest, it was the album that introduced Robert Fripp (producer) to Brian Eno (guest synth player). The first song, “Starting in the Middle of the Day…” shows the craftier moments of the band, with frenetic piano lines from McRae bouncing off of Wyatt’s disguised vocals. “God Song” is a bit of socialist angst from Wyatt, played against a delicate acoustic guitar backdrop from Miller. Although a bit overdone in the lyrics department, at least it doesn’t take itself too seriously and truth be told, it does contain some witty lines. “Nan True’s Hole,” features the catchiest riff on the album (indeed, that’s pretty much all the song is) and a hilarious cameo from Alfreda Benge (Wyatt’s wife), who provides dual voices for a bewildered prostitute and her sheepish, 40-year old customer. “Marchides,” powered by Wyatt’s forceful drumming, seems taken straight from the Soft Machine engine, and will please those fans uncertain of exploring Wyatt’s post-Softs waters. Much of the rest of the album, however, doesn’t particularly stick with me, and mileage will vary for how much you can take of Wyatt’s lyrics. But besides that: da Komrade, da!”

Gary N:
“I’d only had the faint notion that Matching Mole was some kind of Soft Machine spinoff (the name being taken from the French for “Soft Machine”: Machine Molle), but didn’t realize the rest of the impressive genealogy until I stumbled upon this album (and also noticed it was produced by Robert Fripp). I was certainly not disappointed. As has been stated repeatedly elsewhere, this album was a marked change from their debut in that it was more of a band effort than their first release, which was commandeered almost entirely by Wyatt. The difference is… well, less Wyatt, and more instrumental input from everyone, resulting in a nice combination of spacey jazz and groovy jams, with Wyatt sticking to the skins more so than on their first. I actually gained quite an appreciation for his lyrics and voice, which hadn’t made as much an impression on me in Soft Machine, thanks to “God Song”, on which he lends his humorous philosophy to a quiet and somber tune by Phil Miller. For the most part, though, all members of the band shine brightly on this album, and the whole thing has a comfortable loose concept feel to it, applying wit and experimentation throughout with some great composition coupled with jamming by seasoned musicians.

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.