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Can - Tago Mago CD (album) cover

TAGO MAGO

Can

 

Krautrock

3.92 | 434 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars The yoke is on the listener

I'm not a fan of Can, or indeed this type of music. Those who know and love their music can therefore safely ignore this review. For those unfamiliar with their work however, the intention here is to provide a balance by offering the views of someone who enjoys prog, but does not particularly enjoy this.

"Tago mago" was actually Can's fourth album, although in their discography it will always appear as their third due to their debut "Delay" not actually being released until the 1980's. An ambitious affair, this was originally a double LP with a running time of about 73 minutes. Around the time of its release, record companies were usually reluctant to sanction double albums due to the increased production costs and consequent need to charge a higher price. We can therefore assume that the band felt they had sufficient material of a high quality to justify such a package.

The album offers a collection of just seven tracks, ranging from the challenging to the downright inaccessible. Side one is arguably the most conventional, with three pretty basic rock tracks. "Paperhouse" starts softly with some of the most melodic singing on the album, before the incessant dominant rhythms take over, fronted by some good guitar work. This segues into the sparse "Mushroom", a rather infantile repetitious number which can actually play on the nerves! "Oh yeah", which completes the first side, maintains the repetition while the vocals are played backwards. If you think things might be getting a bit silly, you are spot on!

"Hallelujah" sets off with a basic percussive rhythm which does not change for the 18+ minutes of the track. Various themes and sounds drift in and out, but the track remains simplistic and undeveloped. If the first LP was essentially dull, based on repetition of basic rhythms, the second descends further into obscurity. "Aumgn" is nothing other than a band tinkering with sounds and instruments for 17 minutes, devoid of any musical inspiration. If you enjoy certain types of noises, perhaps there is something here for you, but for anyone looking for something remotely melodious, this track is a non starter.

The final side consists of "Peking O", effectively a continuation of "Aumgn" only louder, and "Bring me coffee or tea". The latter finally resorts to an almost melodious theme, the track sounding all the richer due to what has preceded it.

It may seem strange to question the progressiveness of a double album with two side long tracks and just seven tracks in total. The point here is though that the track lengths simply reflect the fact that the band takes a simple riff or rhythm, and repeats it ad-nauseum. There's no development of the themes, and little if any changes to the pace of each track. The playing is simplistic and in reality totally undemanding upon the performers. In short, an album only for those who know what they are letting themselves in for.

Incidentally, the sleeve image on my original LP version is completely different, showing a photograph of the band playing live, taken from behind the drums tool.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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