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Can - Tago Mago CD (album) cover





3.94 | 600 ratings

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5 stars The relatively low rating of Tago Mago is a typical phenomena of Prog Archives. I don't say that as a criticism, just as an observation. It's only logical that a band's most acclaimed album gets the attention and scrutiny of the occasional passer-by and in case of Can, the predictable 1 and 2 star ratings as an obvious result.

Can sits at the extreme end of non-harmonious and non-melodic music that features on Prog Archives and it offers quite a contrasting approach to the dominating melodic and symphonic tendencies of progressive rock. Actually, I'm quite sure Can would have been pleased with the 1 and 2 stars here. Can didn't want to have anything to do with the mainstream music of their time (that was prog yes) and deliberately tore down the formulas and rules that other bands adhered to.

As I've stated in previous Can reviews, the influence and relevance of Can on rock music is phenomenal, be it not within the progressive rock field but all the more so outside it. Both the ethics and sound of this music has spread like the plague throughout punk, new wave, guitar rock, indie, ambient, drum and bass, trip-hop, space rock, you name it. The list of examples I could sum up is endless but I would certainly single out Hawkwind, Eno, PIL, Joy Division, Tuxedo Moon, Sonic Youth, Jesus & Mary Chain, Tricky and bands like Radiohead that continued this heritage.

Now on to the album which is, whatever the low average may indicate, without any doubt Can's crowning achievement. For starters this used to be a double album, which allowed Can to explore the new lands they discovered on earlier albums to full extent. Some tracks like Paperhouse focus on their anarchistic rock side, Mushroom is almost trip-hop and it's hard not to hear the influence this had on artists like Tricky. The obvious influence aside, it's also a beautiful piece of music if that still needed to be pointed out.

Oh Yeah and Halleluwah continue the incredibly rhythmic feel of this band. There is simply no competition for Liebeziet's entrancing take on funk rhythms. Suzuki must be praised as well. As much as he sometimes disappoints me on later Can albums, his raw expression here is unmatched. Aumgn veers off into an entirely different direction. Devoid of any rhythm and melody it pioneered similar sonic experiments from Cluster, Tangerine Dream and Schulze. I find this Aumgn to be really alluring and a revealing experiment on the possibilities of a human voice, an echo box and an anarchist state of mind.

The anti-music of Peking O is possible added here to drive even the most ardent of listeners away that would still be into the album at this point. I can't help but finding my mood lifted by the creative freedom that Can's anarchistic avant-garde testifies off. I wouldn't recommend it as car music, maybe it isn't even meant to be listened to at all, but rather to be experienced in the way you undergo modern art : to find the beauty of human creativity and liberty into what appears to be just ugliness on the outside. Enduring listeners get a treat at the end. Bring Me Coffee or Tea is almost a melodic delight after the violent destruction of our sense of harmony in the preceding hour.

You may like it instantly, you might need years till it dawns on you or it might never mean anything at all. It certainly took me a few years (and a punk phase of sorts) till I was unchained from my earlier harmonic preconceptions and learned to appreciate music for its rhythmic feel, emotive intensity or for the artistic ethics instead of just for good melodies. The liberty obtained by that process and the amounts of great music it has unleashed on my CD-shelf is nothing short of amazing. 4.5 stars

Bonnek | 5/5 |


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