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Can - Tago Mago CD (album) cover





3.97 | 777 ratings

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2 stars Mix of brilliant and awful.

Right up there in the "I would have loved to hear what the record company execs were thinking when they heard this one" category, Tago Mago deserves some credit for...well, not innovation per se, perhaps nerve or hubris? Rarely has such a non-commercial recording (I was going to call this a 'non-commercial set of music' but 'recording' is the more accurate term) been released to (on) the public. Containing both some decent grooves (for which CAN, and Krautrock, would become well known), but also some of the worst noise ever put to record, Tago Mago is not for the uninitiated. But it was out of the ashes of the failures here on Tago Mago (and Ege Bamyasi) that CAN would eventually make one great album (the wonderful 'Future Times'). A double-album, the first half of Tago Mago contains almost everything here that might fall under the category of 'music'. The side-long "Halleluhwah" is the best, most inspired. Created from many feet (hours?) of taped jams, it reveals a deep groove for which this album is probably best known. Indeed, in terms of innovation and musicality, it is the drumming that stands out for me, and this extended track is one of the best examples. The other tunes on the first side are also sufficiently decent - "Paperhouse", "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah" - although not at the same level as Halleluhwah. The second half of the album, however, is another story. Among the first of the CAN albums to feature then-new vocalist Damo Suzuki, they allowed him to make what I can only describe as monkey noises all over side c (the aptly titled "Aumgn"), which dare I say completely ruins any remaining musicality that this side might have (even though it is all just musique concrete - noises made with found objects and echo pedals). "Aumgn" is particularly notable not just in relation to the other albums here on PA but also recorded music in general, as I cannot think of any recording ('song' is not the right word) that is more difficult to listen to, with less musicality, EVER (even on those old test pressings of non-musical soundscapes, like the ones where they sample jet engines and the like). Truly, truly awful noise. Such a failure. I have been in some iffy situations (as a kid, etc) that looking back I wish I had not got myself into. But those 17 minutes of Aumgn are among the ones in my life I wish that I could take back most. On my 10-point scale, 0 would typically refer to a complete waste of time, something with no musicality at all. Well, Aumgn is the only 'recording' I could consider giving a negative rating to! Side D is not very musical either ("Peking-O" and "Bring Me Coffee or Tea") but it is no-where near as bad as Aumgn. Side d might get 1.8 out of 10. This might be contrasted with a 5.9 out of 10 for side a, and an 8 out of 10 for side b (Halleluhwah). Taken together, a 'notable' (nervy) album, but one that only averages out to about 3.5 out of 10 in terms of musicality, which translates to 2 PA stars. Be forwarned.

Walkscore | 2/5 |


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