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Can - Ege Bamyasi CD (album) cover





3.95 | 497 ratings

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3 stars Real Time Composition

There can't be many more infuriating bands than Can, can there? Often incoherent, more often tiresome and on too few occasions, capable of stunningly prescient brilliance. My first introduction to this group was via the several compilations of their work that have appeared to date and it's no happy accident that the fruits of 'instant composition' tend to perish pretty damn quickly. The shorter song based tracks have a longer shelf life for my money and although the 'organic school' swear by the 12 minute monster jams as the 'real McCann' it's the shrink wrapped vegetables I continue to reach unhesitatingly for. (The latter somewhat paradoxically, appear to contain fewer traces of chemicals than the former?)

Pinch - At times like these you could be forgiven for being witness to an eggy fart from a vegan and start to doubt their sincerity. Another interminably spacey 'free for all' with the cost of your entry that of being bored rigid by soporific Germans giggling at traffic cop Suzuki's efforts in directing a vehicle with no-one in the driver's seat. Apart from the habitually stellar kit work of Liebezeit and the subtle viscera of Czukay's bass this is tantamount to brain food for those with a sweet tooth.

Sing Swan Song - As if to confirm my best prejudices, the lads present a brilliant and dreamy languid waltz that prefaces much of the shoegazer brigade and probably unwittingly bequeathed several post-punk and rock genres to the musical world. Astonishingly far sighted and another example of why this latently innovative band should have been forced to record at gunpoint with the keys to the medicine cabinet locked securely in the producer's safe.

One More Night - The joyful and loose-limbed flavour of African music is unmistakable here and considering it is circa 10 years before David Byrne, Eno, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel et al managed to assimilate World Music into the mainstream consciousness, kudos to the Colognians for laying so much of the uncharted groundwork. I have said this before, but Can are the best dance band Prog ever had.

Vitamin C - Bit of a grower this one but well worth persevering with as it just might be the most fully realised composition on the album. Credit is due to Damo Suzuki here, as his plaintive vocal carries most of the 'hook' on its own. Beautiful and subtle dynamics from the unerring Liebezeit who lays down an unwavering cyclic pulse but invests same with all manner of jazz inflected light and shade sadly absent from so much repetitive rawk grooves.

Soup - Unnerving eastern inflected drone intro promises much, but delivers less. Apart from shouting shrill inanities, Suzuki's input never gets much further than providing him with the expectation of a royalties cheque from the performing rights society. Please don't ask for credit Damo, as refusal often offends (his cheque really deserves to bounce) There are at the very least, some arresting and innovative sound manipulation techniques deployed which steal a march on digital sampling and must have been harrowing and laborious to achieve using just analogue tape. As enticing as that appears alas, it's a lazy and rambling smirking anti-arthouse mess. Primordial Gazpacho of an acquired tastelessness. Great source material and inspiration for the dance fraternity though.

I'm So Green - Nice sloping and angular jazzy chord progression that is tenuously redolent of Daddy Where Did I Come From? by the Nice. Starts off enjoyably enough with a decent melody but thereafter either Damo gets bored and resorts to his tired and testing screeching or Can just run out of steamed veggies.

Spoon - I'm advised this was a minor hit single in Germany. Yet again, our five favourite sonic trailblazers serve up a dish that never appeared again on a menu until Talking Heads and Eno inhabited a similar musical realm. It might just be me, but I detect a whiff of what was to become Wall of Voodoo hereabouts? (that's a good thing in downtown Lemmington Spaw)

When I want to listen to Can, I hardly ever play the original studio albums in their entirety and much prefer to make up my own compilations of my favourite tracks. Herein lies my main reservation about this band: they are just so damned uneven. However, I suspect that an ensemble who have intuited world, dance, indie, ambient, funk, psychedelia, krautrock, (the list goes on) will be inevitably prone to display the inconsistencies of material covering more stylistic bases on one album that most groups cover in their entire careers.

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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