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Can - Ege Bamyasi CD (album) cover





3.90 | 408 ratings

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4 stars Album number three by the Krautrock pioneers of CAN is sometimes lost in the long shadow cast by the towering edifice of "Tago Mago" (their groundbreaking 1971 double-disc), but in retrospect it may well be the quintessential CAN recording from their influential formative years. The music is no less challenging or confrontational than it was on the earlier album, but distills the almost overwhelming 80-minute barrage of sound from "Tago Mago" to a much easier to digest single LP's worth of equally astonishing creativity.

"Ege Bamyasi" has everything the neophyte listener needs to understand why CAN was such a musical force. It's all here: the rhythmically busy, near paranormal jamming; the quieter, more hypnotic ballads ("Sing Swan Song", with Holger Czukay's trademark two- note bass vibrations); a couple of typically skewed pop songs (one of them, "Spoon", a minor hit in their native country); and another classic CAN freak-out, abbreviated here to a manageable fraction of their earlier side-long experiments.

CAN was a band of restless musical adventurers who rarely traveled with a map, and as usual they cover a lot of territory here. It's hard to believe the same group responsible for the swinging, near free-form nine-minute album opener "Pinch" could, just two tracks later, tighten their ranks so drastically for the controlled 7/8 discipline of "One More Night" (and still make it soar, in a spasmodic KRAFTWERK-like way).

It would be hard to single out the efforts of any one player from such an organically fused unit, especially in a band so totally lacking in rock star egos, clichés, and conceits. No virtuoso head trips here: individual skill meant nothing to CAN if it didn't advance the group agenda.

But as an ex-garage band drummer I can't pass up an opportunity to champion Jaki Liebezeit, no less a world-class talent than his bandmates, but the one whose signature rhythms gave the CAN sound its irresistible drive. Listen to his subtle, pinpoint percussion fills on "Sing Swan Song" (in the middle section, under Michael Karoli's bagpipe-guitar sustains), or his nimble, non-stop snare and tom workout during "Vitamin C". What you're hearing is the difference between a dedicated musician and a common rock 'n' roll showman.

Now multiply that difference by a factor of five, once for each member of the band. That's the CAN equation.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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