Soft Heap

Soft Heap[1] was a Canterbury scene supergroup founded in January 1978.


The name references Soft Machine while "Heap" comes from the first letters of the band's founders: Hugh Hopper (bass), Elton Dean (saxophone), Alan Gowen (keyboards) and Pip Pyle (drums). Hopper and Dean had worked together in Soft Machine, while Gowen and Pyle had worked together in National Health.


Soft Heap went on tour in 1978, but with Pyle busy with National Health, Dave Sheen replaced him and the name was changed to Soft Head.

Rogue Element, a live album from the Soft Head tour, was released in 1978, but the original Soft Heap line-up reconvened in October 1978 to record Soft Heap (released in 1979). John Greaves (also from National Health) replaced Hugh Hopper in 1979-80, while 1981 saw a new line-up[2] of John Greaves, Elton Dean, Pip Pyle and Mark Hewins on guitar following Alan Gowen's death that year.[2]

The new line-up toured intermittently through the 1980s, occasionally including guests such as Fred Frith & Phil Minton.[3]

Released only in 1996, A Veritable Centaur[4] is a live album largely taken from a 1982 French show, with one track from a 1983 BBC Radio 3 performance[5] while Al Dente is a 2008 archival release of a 1978 show.

The three other founding members (Hopper, Dean and Pyle) all died in the 2000s.


Year Artist Title
1978Soft HeadRogue Element
1978Soft HeapAl Dente (released in 2008)
1979Soft HeapSoft Heap
1982Soft HeapA Veritable Centaur (released in 1996)


  1. "Soft Heap Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  2. "Soft Heap". Archived from the original on 29 April 1998. Retrieved 7 August 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. "Soft line-ups". Archived from the original on 10 February 2001. Retrieved 7 August 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. "Soft Heap - A Veritable Centaur (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  5. "ipernity: SOFT HEAP by markhewins 2". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
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