"these guys aren't playing music - they're playing instruments"
Sounds like the type of criticism a square would direct at a group of swingin hepcats in the 1920s. The comment seems to imply that the group is excessively noodly but though Soft Machine were pretty jazzy from the beginning, those first couple of albums (which are rightly considered their best by most) are fairly tightly constructed suites. This is verified by live sets of the era, where they typically performed the entire albums (or large portions of them) live. Yes, both albums have their share of improvisation but your comment seems like it would be more appropriate if directed at one of those later albums or a looser Canterbury group like Hatfield & The North or someone like that.
"Found this place through John Mc's site btw"
Oh so you're a new guy? Think that's how most newbies find us these days. Welcome