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Can - Tago Mago CD (album) cover

TAGO MAGO

Can

 

Krautrock

3.92 | 426 ratings

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EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 10/10

More than forty years later, 'Tago Mago' still sounds alien.

Can are one of the most praised Krautrock bands ever-if not the most praised-; their uniqueness is timeless, their originality is unbeatable, and their influence on following bands was, and is, massive. Even though among fans and critics there is controversy regarding which of their opuses is the greatest, 'Tago Mago' is the LP that is most loved and the most known of the band. Indeed, 'Tago Mago' is one of the great albums of Rock music.

Can had already spiced up the hype of this 1971 release with their first two albums 'Monster Movie' and 'Soundtracks'. But no one expected anything like this: because, even today, the music here is unpredictable, unbelievably quirky, creepy, jaw-dropping. Released as a double LP, only the most ambitious fellows back in the day were able to finish the seventy minutes of 'Tago Mago' (it was a pretty massive length for an album during that period), but those few had their musical life changed. Overly ambitious, experimental, and innovative, the album maintains those elements that were typical for the first two albums; that is, a strong Psychedelic Rock influence, mixed with a genuinely Krautrock feel. But those two albums stopped there. Here, Can put in Jazz, concrete music, pure avant-garde, some minimal Electronic experiments, and much more. 'Tago Mago' is the ultimate hymn to Experimental Rock and to musical ambition.

Side one of the album is the most melodic and accessible, containing three relatively short songs: 'Paperhouse' is the absolute classic Can song, thanks to it's soothing, haunting melody and almost lazy sounding musicianship, everything smothered in this surreal aura that gives the track a noticeable Can stamp. 'Mushroom' is however neurotic, tense, as if it were a sountrack to a nervous breakdown: once again the band's innovative sense of melody becomes a strong character of the song, making it another timeless classic. 'Oh Yeah' is musically in between the two songs: tense and soothing, with curious reversed vocals, and very repetitive, hypnotic rhythms that mark the entire seven minutes of the track. It is though with the monstrously ambitious 'Halleluwah' that Can start creating something that has never been done before and has not yet been repeated. The dorsal spine of the piece an odd, repetitive drum rhythm that guides and shapes the music for the entire song, which is constantly building, morphing, collapsing, becoming bleaker or becoming creepier. 'Halleluwah', for it's jaw-dropping structure and evolutions, still remains a Krautrock classic. The third side of the album is dedicated to the proto-ambient/noise soundscapes of 'Aumgn', an amazingly avant-garde instrumental, to the edge of Musique Concrete. The final side features firstly 'Pekin O', even more bizarre and innovating than the previous tracks, with some Electronic experiments, utterly unorthodox noises, loud squeaks, simply a song that gives the word Experimental a whole new meaning. 'Bring Me Coffee or Tea' is the calm after the storm, an almost anti climactic ending that brings the listener down to earth after sixty plus minutes of freaky madness.

'Tago Mago' is a landmark album in music history, an LP that redefined the word 'Experimental' and Ambition. An essential piece of art in anybody's music collection, one of those albums no one can live without, after having experienced it.

EatThatPhonebook | 5/5 |

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