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4 stars This is one of those albums that everyone just needs to own, like Dark Side of the Moon, or something. CAN may not have the same kind of universal appeal as good ol' Floyd, but I just can't imagine life without a song like "Halleluhwah." If you've never heard it, it's basically just one fat drum groove -- actually the fattest drum groove ever -- for 18 minutes straight, with every damn artifact of psychedelic weirdness possible in the universe floating in and out of the mix like some sort of big sonic stew. There are guitar solos, yelling Japanese guys, tortured violins, tom-tom extravaganzas... it's simply amazing. And the funny thing is, the next song makes that one look normal! Simply own it, listen to it.
Report this review (#23217)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Although not an easy listen (if you're only into symphonic prog , you probably will not like/understand this. The first side is made of three accessible tracks and the second is 18.5 minutes splendid epic, all of thesenumbers are quite enjoyable and do not require effort to get into. The second disc is another cup of tea and not so much accessible. The Aumgn tracks starts off the famous meditation aum-sound and ends in total mayhem/chaos not unlike floyd in Saucerfull of Secrets or Ummagumma in about 17.5minutes . Side 4 (as it was called in the double vinyl) starts as Mayhem still happeing and IMOHO is probably the weak point of this essential krautrock. The last track is however on of the most pleasant from Can.
Report this review (#23220)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I believe "Tago Mago" was CAN's 4th official album released, which was originally a double album set and I am told was actually a soundtrack written for some cheesie 70's B - movie. Fans of BRAINTICKET and AMON DUUL II will love this album to death, as it combines experimental gadgetry with space and psychedelic imagery and soundscapes. Led by the creative mind of Holger Czukay, "Tago Mago" would certainly rank as one of most original "headmusic" albums of all time. This album ranges from droned-out minimalistic moments to the most wonderful exploratory interludes. Lead vocalist Damo Suzuki must suffer from schizophrenia as he too sings in many styles from soft controlled almost meditative in nature to screeching psychedlia. To many I suppose this album will sound a wee bit dated, but for me it is a wonderful and highly experimental avant garde piece of German progressive rock.

Report this review (#23223)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tago Mago is a real trip... You've just to lay on your bed, lights off, and listen. You will see emotions rise up in your head and exploding in the final part of "Aumgn" just like fireworks. You will laugh at the madness of "Peking O". You will feel sad at the first strings of "Bring me coffee or tea"... wow. One of the greatest album ever made.
Report this review (#23224)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Things are really looking up for CAN at this point. Malcolm Mooney, now history thanks to his mental illness that forced him back to the United States, Damo Suzuki (who already appeared on all but two cuts on Soundtracks) of course, filling in. A lot of this still sounds quite psychedelic, as "Paperhouse" demonstrates, with Michael Karoli's guitar work. Plus there's lots of great percussion work from Jaki Liebezeit. The music then segues in to "Mushroom", which is a bit difficult for me to describe, so I'll go on with the next song, "Oh Yeah". This is definately the high point of the album, great psychedelic vibe with Irmin Schmidt's organ, Holger Czukay keeping his own on his bass, and Damo Suzuki at first singing something in reverse (that is, the tape of him singing was playing in reverse, while the band plays in forward).

Then after a bit, he starts singing (forward, with the rest of the band) in his native tongue, Japanese (it's too bad that I don't know what it translates to, or the Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji characters to the lyrics). Then there's the side length "Halleluwah", which is definately Jaki Liebezeit's time to shine, especially with the percussion, with Damo's voice on top. There's a couple of detours on the way, but it sticks to the same throughout, and while this result might seem boring, it actually isn't, it works quite well. The second disc (that is, if you own the LP, as both discs were crammed on to one CD) is by far some of the most radical pieces of "music" I have ever heard, and I've heard some very radical stuff in my lifetime (such as BRAINTICKET's "Cottonwoodhill", ASH RA TEMPEL's "Seven Up", or the early works of TANGERINE DREAM on the Ohr label).

The first side of the second disc is taken up with "Aumgn", by far the most frightening and sinister piece of "music" I have ever heard! Mainly trippy sound effects with Irmin Schmidt, without a doubt having noted 1920s British occultist Aleister Crowley on his mind, repeatedly chanting "Augmn" (which sounds like "Aum", but with a much more sinister tone - "Aumgn" was a chant invented by Crowley himself) over and over with some extremely relentless electronic effects. Somewhere is this almost didgeridoo-like droning played on a double bass (if the band actually used a didgeridoo, it would make that piece even more sinister). Then after that's over, Jaki Liebezeit then gives us a wall of relentless percussion over more relentless electronic effects. And just when you think you've had enough, side four opens up with "Peking O". Luckily it's not so sinister, but it's just completely demented, complete with Damo's mindless babbling and a cheesy sounding drum machine. This piece actually got me laughing. Then the album closes with "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" which is a much more mellow, psychedelic number dominated organ, it's like a very welcome ending after being hammered for a half an hour with relentless noise and electronic effects. Without a doubt "Aumgn" and "Peking O" are the definate love it or hate it pieces.

Everyone will question your sanity for listening to those pieces, and they're certain clear parties so fast, you'd be wondering if you remembered to hold a party. But those two pieces are absolute genius, and you have to be pretty accustomed to the more radical albums of Krautrock (like TANGERINE DREAM's "Zeit") to appeciate this. Incredible stuff, and without a doubt, CAN at their finest!

Report this review (#23216)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the best progresive albums I have ever listened to, and also one of the most influential. You can here direct influences from this album on such modern albums, such as radiohead's Kid A(the strange sounds and the backwards vocals of oh yeah) and most of all on Tool's lateralus, the odd time structures and meandering guitar throught the album and the moans and whispering bellow comples sound sturctures on paper house that flows into mushroom, wich sound like tool in many ways, from the lyrics to the sound structure to the slow build up to the hollaring of "I thought I'd get my dspair", this is tool before there was a tool, I actualy found out about this band while searching for music online and d/led a song from this album and was enthralled with it and had to get my hands on the entire thing, boy am I glad I did. This music is so ahead of it's times that it is mind bogaling, great great musical work. I am slowly exposing this to all my friends to prove to them that there was good music before the 90's lol. This album will always be one of my personal clasics
Report this review (#23227)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
3 stars 3.5 stars really. But what the hell is it that draws me to this band? They are so wierd! And this cd makes Cottonwood Hill by Brainticket look fairly sane and at times, sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a slasher flick! But I suppose this cd sorta grows on you, just make sure you are expereinced with the genre of prog and have an idea of what to expect from the kraut rock sub-genre before getting this album, cause it is odd. Anywho, I couldn't even begin to explain this album to a newbie of kraut rock but if you want an interesting album with funny, scary (especially the vocals, the guy sounds like he belongs in an insane asylum but it adds to the atomphere) noice, get this album. Can is way ahead of their times and its amazing to find that this is only 1971. Procced with caution and be patient, you'll get something positive out of it eventually!
Report this review (#23228)
Posted Tuesday, October 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Contrary to the evidence presented elsewhere on this site there really aren't too many albums, prog or otherwise, deserving an unconditional five-star accolade, and in my not entirely unbiased opinion the majority that do originated in Germany during the early 1970s. But while I treasure the tongue-in-cheek acid deconstructions of FAUST, the irresistible momentum of NEU!, the sometimes intimidating deep-space void of early TANGERINE DREAM, so forth and so on, I tend to go all to pieces when contemplating the music of CAN.

And why not? They were, without exaggeration, one of the major creative forces of the 20th Century: a band so far beyond the usual genre pigeonholes of rock, jazz and/or classical as to defy any easy analysis or interpretation. For the record, I would slot them somewhere in between electric MILES DAVIS and the less accessible output of "Larks Tongues"-era KING CRIMSON, with one ear always tuned to the distant future: their "instant composition" improvs, for example, bear an uncanny resemblance to 1990s CRIMSON double-trio "Thrakking", minus the digital cosmetics.

Every CAN album in their pre-Virgin Record catalogue is arguably a masterpiece, but none deliver the impact of this monumental 1971 release, originally a double disc of vinyl, now conveniently packaged onto a single CD. Describing the music is always a challenge, and not just because it never stands still from song to song. The band seemed to exist somewhere outside the mundane concerns of the music industry, in a self-contained, self-sufficient bubble of pure creativity (they would often jam for days on end in their home-built "Inner Space" studio, recording everything along the way). The result of all that uninhibited freedom was a landmark album covering a spectrum of styles, from stoned tribal psychedelia ("Mushroom Head") to relentless 18+ minute grooves (the astonishing "Halleluwah") to the completely unclassifiable collages of "Augmn" and "Peking O", neither of which would have seen the light of day without the farsighted insistance of Hildegard Schmidt, band manager and wife of keyboardist Irmin Schmidt.

These last two cuts in particular act as a sort of sonic litmus test, separating the casual listener from the dedicated convert. It takes a strong constitution and a wide open mind to navigate the hellish soundscapes of the former and the sometimes strident silliness of the latter, in which Damo Suzuki's maniacal hyperactive babbling is set against a rinky-dink drum machine pushed to maximum speed. Want to clear a room of unwanted visitors in a hurry? Crank this sucker and watch them flee. Then you can enjoy the blissful chill-out of the closing track, "Bring Me Coffee or Tea", without having to suffer the uninformed criticisms of your Philistine friends and neighbors.

Fans expecting to hear classic German Art Rock are advised to explore instead the more traditional (i.e. Anglo-influenced) Progressive music of bands like NOVALIS, GROBSCHNITT, WALLENSTEIN, ELOY et al. But adventurous listeners needing an introduction to the social-political-subversive world of Krautrock (a term of highest respect, keep in mind) need look no further.

Report this review (#23229)
Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I was told that if I don't get the krautrock style, a subgenre of the progressive rock, then maybe some of the best Can albums would definitely convince me. Well, I still don't get this strange, psychedelic, UNMELODIOUS and MARGINAL music.

The long "Aumgn" track, lasting around 17 minutes, has miscellaneous bizarre echoed notes, producing psychedelic patterns: hypnotic low pitched voices, irritating guitars with fingers sliding on the strings, delicate & experimental percussive elements, repetitive drums like in the subway corridors, all this is punctuated with a permanent echo, seems deeply improvised and demonstrates a flagrant lack of structure.

Fortunately, a couples of tracks are better structured, like "Bring me coffee", reminding me Jade Warrior circa 1975.

"Halleluhwah" would have been perfect for the 69' Woodstock festival, being quite rhythmic, but I think it is too long (18 minutes), because it is VERY repetitive: only 4-5 minutes would have been sufficient.

"Mushroom" has repetitive drums, irritating and alienating voices: this is the kind of music some records store clerks of Montreal used to play in the boutique.

"Oh Yeah" has a very marginal style, having sissy electric guitar solos, and the repetitive drums seems to make 50% of the sound!

"Paperhouse", another Woodstock-esque song, is the most rock one, having some piano and visceral guitar solos.

"Pecking O" is absolutely silly: the scatting vocals are irritating and hysterical; the dissonant instruments seem to badly converse each other; a huge discomfort is omnipresent here; the track is absolutely theatrical, childish and obviously very experimental; it slightly reminds me some non sense parts on the Frank Zappa's "Weasels ripped my flesh" album.

The keyboards are very timid and unmelodious. I can't see any progressive rock element here.

Report this review (#23231)
Posted Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I should state that I came to this album under unusual circumstances ... I could barely believe how unimpressed I had been by the Can compilation Cannibalism I and I thought I'd give the band another chance, thinking that perhaps hearing the songs out of context was a handicap. But all I got was more of the same.

I can't imagine that fans of symphonic progressive rock will enjoy the psychedelic drivel of Mushroom, Oh Yeah, Paperhouse and Halleluwah (although the latter two have moments of promise). While those songs are tough enough to stomach, they are nothing compared to the jarring 17 minute long electronic soundscape exercise Aumgn and its follow-up Peking O. In fact as someone who is also a fan of RIO, Canterbury, jazz-fusion, and quality psychedelic rock, I'm still baffled as to where the true appeal of Can lies. I really hated large parts of this album. If pushed, I'd say Bring Me Coffee Or Tea was the only song that I could tolerate all the way through. ... 19% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#23233)
Posted Friday, March 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was my first Can's album. I loved them from first heared. For me this music is absolutely amazing. Something new for me. Something strange an fascynating. This sounds are full of emotion and poetic. Poetic of chaos, screaming, confusion. Poem of confusion - its the key word to this album. Musicans from born new kind of music. They are all genius. But for me, the most important element of Can's music is Damo Suzuki. Hi have so expresive and full of emotion vocal... for me hi is amazing vocalist. I think this album is one of the most important thing of all time!
Report this review (#23234)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What ties together the far-flung branches of musical genres such as (among others) psychedelia, progressive rock, free jazz, avant-garde classical, punk rock, electronica, industrial, and post-rock? Why, CAN of course. No single band has been as influential to explorers of the outer realms of modern music. It's almost shameful how few people know of this band, given the immense impact such albums as "Tago Mago" had. The essential problem with CAN's output (at least up to the late 70s) is that it is difficult to listen to, even for those accustomed to rock's odder fringes.

Newcomers, do what you can to prepare yourself. Take the wild and free days of early PINK FLOYD (up to and including the more bizarre moments of "Ummagumma"), make sure you're comfortable with ZAPPA's off-kilter melding of rock and jazz, and it wouldn't hurt to listen to things like APHRODITE'S CHILD's "666" and COMUS' "First Utterance" a few times before you have a decent context for your first "Tago Mago" experience. You still won't be fully ready for the unique and unsettling wonders of CAN, but at least you won't be trying to compare them to bands like DREAM THEATER or RUSH or CAMEL. This is much more progressive, in every sense of the word.

Have I said anything about the album? Well, words are almost inadequate. A more meaningful way to write about "Tago Mago" would be in free-form poetry comprised of a few different languages as well as numerous nonsense words, illustrated with impressionist doodles on the margins, and repeated ad infinitum for effect. Otherwise, it's just the same old rhetorical analysis: a group of talented, versatile and uninhibited musicians who find strict melodic structures to be rather limiting but enjoy a good groove as much as any other funky beast- and aren't afraid to stretch it out for almost 20 minutes at a time. It's no wonder many prog fans have trouble with it; not only can you dance to it, but it defies the notion that musical discipline is best expressed in virtuosity. It explores instead of telling a story, it allows your mind to investigate itself rather than filling you with external enlightenment. It could scare people around you, or make them laugh; either response is acceptable. Drugs are optional accessories (and I would NEVER want to be accused of recommending or requiring them, wink wink), but more than one person has had increased luck approaching CAN in an altered state.

I guess I can't objectively say that "Tago Mago" is for everyone- there will always be people who simply don't care for such unrestrained ecstasy (or unrestrained weirdness for its own sake, depending on your point of view), and there will always be people who equate artistic opacity with a kind of cheat or laziness. However, works of this kind of rare originality and importance transcend the mitigating factors of accesibility and is both a masterpiece and essential (in the sense that all subsequent music would not have been the same without it), so I'll have to award the full score. CAN do!

Report this review (#23238)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A classic, but not a perfect one. If you want some avantgarde-oriented album and not another boring Genesis clone, this album is what you're looking for. The thing is that things like "Aumgn" are not very great, and this songs are a bit too overlong (it was a double album after all). My favourite one is "Halleluwah" since that drum pattern is really amazing. Other tracks like "Paperhouse" are really good too. "Mushroom" is a nice "groovy" song, and one of the most accesible ones here. "Oh Yeah" sounds good, "Peking O" sounds truly insane (especially Damo Suzuki who sounds like if he needed to be taken to a psychiatrist), while "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" is the most "relaxing" moment in "Tago Mago", and it sounds nice even if it's not the most unforgetable song here. This one also anticipates the style that they would develop in "Future Days". "Aumgn", however, is noise, with Liebezeit taking a break or something, since he hardly appears on this one. A very schizophrenic record. Good stuff.
Report this review (#23239)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Prog rock fans will hate it, since it has none of the boring cliches of the ordinary progrock groups that were supposed to do something-related-to-music by just leeching the classicals and adding some utterly dull "modern" equipment effects. Krautrock fans will hate it too, as it is sung (?) in english and can only remotely be associated to rock, blues, jazz, contemporary, soul or whatever. For the rest, it's the most iconoclastic, influential and important post-rock'n'roll, post-bebop, post-pop, post-something recording ever made, period and fullstop. It even sounds utterly modern today, thirty four years after its initial release. Not that the other two CAN recordings with Damo Suzuki (Ege Bamyasi, Future Days) as well as the first one without Damo (Soon Over Babaluma) weren't superb, but this one stands in a class of it's own. Oh, and every "rock" drummer would kill his mom without hesitation just to borrow ONE of the hands of Jaki Liebezeit for just five minutes... Just five stars, because the site does not allow more.
Report this review (#23240)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tago Mago is one of the most sweeping and fluid albums of all time. Everything this album touches on, ambience, atmosphere, electronics, fusion, solos, everything is extremely well placed while sounding raw at the same time. No one sounds like Can, and Tago Mago is a perfect example. Suzuki's emotional vocals, the intense percussion, the fast-paced breaks, the droning atmospheric drops, everything blends together in one giant spread of perfected audio liquid. Pour it on your sandwich and you have a revolution like peanut butter and jelly. You can't get more bizarre yet completely listenable, so impressive, and so real with being so fun and infinitely grabbing and intriguing. Simply essential, I don't know what more to add besudes that this album is the kind of album that any experimenter would hope to achieve the results of. Amazing.

Standouts: Mushroom, Halleluwah

Report this review (#38727)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, listen.This an intellectual project.Period.For his hystorical importance he gets 5/5 or maybe more.For his lisenabilty, beautiness and those other thing the rating depends on every single listener.You must be prepared for this.Fortunately i got into it and for me it's a 4/5.Together it's 4.5 but I just can't figure out more than 4-5 albums greater than it has to be 5/5.FULL.What a wonderful year 1971 was for Krautrock!"Tanz der Lemminge","Faust", "Tago mago".Experimentation was running fast and furious.But in this case CAN manage to create an artistic kind of experimentation.I mean:not experimentation for its own sake.CAN manage to put you on this strange train named EXPERIMENTATION.You sit there all alone and while the train is running to his unknown destination you discover through the windows a whole new world of SOUND.The album kicks off with "Paperhouse".It starts with strange noises and a weird ballad.Eventually it will metamorphosize into a powerful goth-rock piece."Oh Yeah" is another great song:it looks like a strange religious pray with backwards vocals"."Mushroom" has some weird and hysterical vocals.Personally, my favourite track is "Halleluhwah".This one lasts 18 minutes and NO,IT'S NOT AN EPIC.The AREN'T dozen different parts to keep you awaken!!But that's my favourite track.Why?It's time to reveal Can's secret.THEY HAVE THE POWER TO HYPNOTIZE YOU.Each track that I've mentioned can make your brain stop for a while and stick to the music.This kind of magic is linked with the repetition of the same or similar sounds.The same happens in Indian music.In ragas there's the repetition of the same note.HERE THE SAME RHYTHM.That's the great revolution!!!Bassist Holgar Czukaj was a real genius!!He anticipated disco-music, new-wave etc etc...That's it.Masterpiece.
Report this review (#44843)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the only album of CAN that I have ever heard. The kind of music CAN plays is something that comprises soloist (guitar) while the rhythm section is mostly repeated. As far as the solo or vocal concerns, I personally can enjoy little about the music because the repeated melody / segments happen too often that at the end create a boring experience. Definitely this is not my cup of tea. I tend to give a one star rating but I'm sure some collectors / fans of this legendary album would enjoy this kind of music. But if you can not accept music with repeated segments, please don't ever try to have this album in your collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Report this review (#46932)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Third album by Krautrock pioneers, and a masterpiece at that!

Everything that could be said about this album is already said above, so no need to re- review the album. Suffice to note that Tago Mago, and Krautrock genre in general is not everbody's cup of coffee, so care should be taken when approaching this (and most other Can) album...

Yet, the rating should be assessed within the specific genre of the band/album, so this one is "the" album which set Krautrock standards. Whereas the high experimentation level (Aumgn, Peking O) might irritate the mainstream listener, there are also refreshing "conventional" tracks (Paperhouse, Mushroom, Oh Yeah), and another partly experimental side long track, which continues Can's tradition to feature one long- improvisational track in every album. (this tradition will be briefly interrupted in the next one)

The band has settled their direction, with their new singer. Damo Suzuki is fully at work, listen to the Japanese lyrics in Oh Yeah, fetured as sample track here.

The only problem with this record could have been that it is too short for a double vinyl. In case you find a lesser priced edition, or on CD, this disadvantage is removed. Either way, the music inside is guaranteed to pay you back! (Warning: not for the faint-hearted!)

An absolute masterpiece!

Report this review (#49828)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I enter te mysterious Kraut Rock World, this is my entrance door. Can's Tago Mago is an album that took me a lot of adjustments. In order to appreciate this album entirely, you have to stop thinking about rock, stop thinking about melodies:we are far away removed from Yes or Genesis! This is different and took a whole lot of listens to truly undertsand its immensity and power.

The first song of the album is probably the easiest one to get into, as Paperhouse is a pretty melodic, beautiful piece. The drums is what caught my ears first, as it is the instruments that sets the flow of the song, more than the rythm. The guitar part is refreshing, and a little solo in the middle of the song is really touching in its simplicity. Then the song goes into harder territories, with the drums always leading, not letting its guard down one second. A great, great song.

Mushroom is pretty different, but works as well, maybe less than the first song, but once again, the drums are highly hypnotizing. This is a song I recommend listening to while laying down on your bed and let the rythm travel through you. The vocals are pretty weak on this song though, especially compared to the first song.

Oh yeah once again goes into different territory and takes you into its world for its 7:24 lenght. You get swallowed into this world only to come out wanting for more.

Then, the album greatest song, Helluhwah. The drums are at their highest point, the mood and rythm are perfect, a highly addictive song. But once again, you have to listen to it a couple of times to undertsand its true valor.

Augmn is probably the song I dislike the most from this album, as it has mostly no direction, and it seems like an acid trip.

Peking O, though better than Augmn, is once again not really my cup of tea, as I can't get into it.

Bring me Coffee or Tea, on the other hand, is a great closer to this album and a great ambient song.

Now, Can's Tago Mago may be a masterpiece or not, it is a must listen for sure. A strange, strange world that everybody should a tleat try. It is not for everybody, but as my first encounter with Kraut Rock, it was a pleasant adventure and I hope it will help you too get into this underground sub-genre wich is Kraut Rock. 4/5

Report this review (#51222)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars The album starts of really pleasant with "Paperhouse", "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah", followed by this albums best track "Halleluwah". This track is marvellous, mostly because of the fantastic drums that is extremely rhythmic. The track is more than 18 minutes long and by the end the careless and sloppy singing starts to annoy me. Track five "Aumgn" is a 17 minutes long pain. I think this track is a very poor and pointless sound experiment. Not that avant garde is unfamiliar to me, but "Aumgn" is just waiste of time! Overall I think the album i a bit "sloppy" and I would recommend "Future Days" and "Ege Bayamsi" before this album.
Report this review (#59248)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a great album all the way through. Aumgn is my favorite. The formlessness of the piece is really beautiful and the ending with the percussion is heartpounding. Deserving of playing full blast!

Paperhouse is a quiet piece, not really progressive but some sadness and beauty Mushroom is a nice bit of funklike music. Damo Suzuki's nonsensical vocals really stand out here Oh Yeah has a great chord progression and the organ drone is really cool. Halleluwah is another good funky piece, a little too long though Peking O is pretty puerile sounding, gobbledy gook with what sounds like children pounding on the electric piano and goofing with the drum machine Bring Me Coffee or Tea sounds like it really belonged on Ege Bamyasi instead of this album

If it were not for Aumgn, this album would probably only get 3 stars from me but I can't get over how that song rocks at the end.

Report this review (#60348)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one I play half of at work all the time - guess which half.

"Paperhouse" through "Halleluwah" is simply fantastic, possibly the best contained suite of songs I've heard on any recording. Everyone really shines here, especially Jaki Liebezeit, the "human drum machine." Not that he's mechanical - he's simply that precise. I even like Irmin Schmidt's contributions, and Damo Suzuki sounds like he's having fun. Holger Czukay's not really a bass player, but he's got the Motown moves down, and Michael Karoli plays "sissy" guitar with the best of 'em (plink, plink, plunk). His violin sawing on "Halleluwah" adds a lot to the song as well.

"Aumgn" and "Peking O" though... I can see how experiments like these got them to the point where they could do the rest of it, but that doesn't mean I really have to listen to them. I can't, honestly - not because it's random, aharmonic, amelodic, arhythmic, and flat-out ugly much of the time, but because it's so humorless. I can listen to, say, Faust's "Miss Fortune" over and over, and it's all of those things, but it's also aware that its Stockhausen/musique concrete/Cage moves are, at some level, completely absurd. (Yes, that's unfair - the only band I've ever heard sound as gleefully unhinged as Faust is mid-70s Gong, and with them you can tell most of the time that everyone besides Dider wished that Daevid and Gilli would just shut up so they could jam.) Can sounds deadly serious about their expermentation on these two songs, and they're a bore. I never bother with "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea," though I remember liking it. It's just too much effort after skipping nearly 29 minutes of sludge.

The four stars says how good the first half is - if it were anyone else, this would be a 1 or 2.

Report this review (#60799)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to agree with the entire world that Can was at their peak with this double-album (upon original release). The music becomes much less dense in comparison to Monster Movie and Soundtracks, yet Can puts together their most original work yet, with sprawling rhythms at the center of this masterpiece. While "Mushroom" and the first of two side-long songs, "Halleluwah," have concrete rhythm tracks, "Peking O" and the other side-long (in vinyl terms) "Aumgn," are more about random sound than keeping an actual beat. Damo Suzuki's ranting/speech/half-nonsense singing does not make this confusing, but rather enhances the musical material like another instrument itself. Speaking of instrumental prowess, Michael Karoli and Irmin Schmidt stand out with textural playing, with solo parts but basic improvisational spirit ringing through them. The main cornerstones here, though, are the rhythm section of Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit (more so the latter), holding down a pace for the others to base their playing around. Each of these songs has its own distinct identity, and some of the production seems very ahead of its time, particularly on the sound effects. (Side note: the SACD remaster is well done, and brings the nuances into new light) Can would have a couple outstanding albums in their own right following Tago Mago, but this effort is by far an achievement for Krautrock itself, and music itself too.
Report this review (#80621)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progressive artists never cease to amaze me with their wide variety of mind-bending styles that push the limits of human capacity.

I recently discovered the genre of progressive music, but there is still much more exploring to do and thats what makes it so exciting. Every style of prog sends my senses soaring probably better than any drug could (never tried drugs).

Can is the first band i tested in the krautrock style and i couldnt have picked a better band to strike my interest in this prog sub-genre. This album is extremely colorful to say the least. "Mushroom" is a great track that reminds me of 70s punk but so much more intricate and inspiring. "Peking O" is a gem that can only be listened to, not described by mere words...not for the average listener! "Halleluhwah" is 18 minutes of amazing drum work that lulls over and over but you still never want the song to end. Outstanding album that should be respected by all for its completely out of this world style.

Report this review (#84846)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Essential, hypnotic, innovative, avantgarde I would argue that this is the 'Close to the Edge' of Krautrock.

This album knocked my socks off, it sounded as if it was recorded within the last ten years, not over 30 years ago.

The album starts with Paperhouse a great track to start with mellow and weird at the same time, with Damo's unusual vocals a classic song, great guitar work by Karoli, the genius of Jacki Leizbect's drumming shine.

Mushroom is a fantastic unique unconventional song very meloncholy with depressive guitar and excellent drumming, the singing adds in my opinion feeling of alienation and also mystery with its sense of ambience, all unusual in structure I think this is my favouriter track, its amazing with its weirdness how it holds together.

Oh Yeah, is where you could mistake Damo Suzucki for Thom Yorke, again excellent drumming by the "machine" Leizbect gives it a great rocking flow and atmospheric keyboards by Schmidt it has a rocking and yet cold mechanical feeling that delights the imagination great guitar wotrk by Karoli, it sounds so fresh and roar, brilliant, classic Can. Halleluwah, is a trance funk 20 minute piece a spacy groove, great and hypnotic. Aumgn and Peking O may not be listenable for the first couple of times but is infact very innovative I think some of the experimental music has the forfather of techno in it, it does has some interesting pasrts to it but its the kind of music that you wouldn't play everywhere.

Bring me Coffe or Tea, a very interesting ending piece much like the first four tracks, another winner, it has a contemplative feel to it with great keyboards and guitar..

One thing I havn't mentioned is Irmin Schinmdt's fantastic keyboard work which is very subtle but brilliant he reminds me a little bit like Tony Banks, with these nice little touches. Holgar Czuckay's bass is also essential to Can's sound.

This album is an essentail masterpiece, and should be in every prog fans collection, Krautrock may get some time getting used to but when you get get you find a massive new world of Progressive Music to be explored. Some might argue that Peking O and Augmn are tracks that prevent this album from being five star but I think they have some amazing stuff in it that any serious musician should explore to get ideas to add to his/her songwriting. Also the fact that you are paying a double album for the price of one means that you can treat these two tracks as bonus tracks, and still get the rest of a truely magnificent album. Whatever way you look at it this album is a five star winner.

Report this review (#86265)
Posted Wednesday, August 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars Krautrock has its moments but this album is not the one that a man could remember. It's something so odd, unmelodycal and too psychedelic. It has its value only as the dead end of music evolution.

Song on this album (yes, there's only one song here) is only the opening track and it is nothing special. The next "songs" are merely some voices and sounds or more often pure nothingness spitted into air. Sorry. I think bands like Can and Faust do one good thing - they show us which way is not worth to take.

Krautrock in general has much more to offer, e.g. 2066 & Then or Jane or Amon Duul II or Eloy or Kraan or Embryo or Hairy Chapter or Ainigma or Gomorrha or... simply everything except Can.

This is only for krautrock fanatics and musical historians.

Report this review (#99093)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars Odd is an understatement.

Can's Tago Mago is felt as one of the crowning achievements of Krautrock. It also helped assure me to never go anywhere further into this genre unless I'm under the heavy influence of drugs. I would describe this as a Psychological album. It tests your mind.

Speaking objectively, Can is approaching things in a rather unconventional artistic method. It's one of the earlier forms of minimalism (the droning quality and repetition) and vocals rely more an attitude than on pitch. There's no clear melody in any of the songs (not necessarily bad), and their is an abundance of psychedelic influences.

Other than being a fancy art album, I'm really at a loss trying to discern the point of this album, besides pushing buttons, boundaries, and being as odd as possible. It really comes down to personal taste. I like my art to have a point to it. I am actually a big fan of creative and different music interpretations. However, I've never found the point behind any of Tago Mago, but maybe there isn't supposed to be a point. It's supposed to just be art you accept for what it is. However, Peking O and its completely worthless and incessant babbling might be the highlight of utter uselessness in music form.

I would only recommend this to those fans of extreme psychedelic or those with drug problems who may find some sort of enlightenment in this. Being as it's considered a staple of the Krautrock genre, I'm more than willing to admit I'm a complete novice to Krautrock. But after this set of experiences, I have little desire to go any further into exploring it.

Report this review (#102534)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris H
1 stars Hmmm, this listen was uhhh interesting? Let me start from the beginning here. I had heard the track "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" off of somewhere, I can't remember at the moment, but I actually rather liked it. So one day I was poking around some bargain bins, and lo and behold here it was. I bought it for $2.50, and popped it in the stereo. It couldn't have been 10 minutes before my mother comes up and says "What is this crap?". I couldn't agree more Mom!

This has to take the cake for the most pointless album ever made. Ever. "Peking O" and "Mushroom" are two of the stupidest, pointless songs I have ever heard. Maybe you need to be on shrooms to get everything out of them? Just a thought...

Well anyways, "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" is the only listenable track on this album, even the so called "epic" "Halleluwah", which is once again, pointless. It's just a shame "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" was the first song I heard, because it cost me $2.50. 1 star, DO NOT BUY!

Report this review (#107357)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars seaLching foh ma blotha yes i AH !!

CAN, what a unique band! They have the guts to release such albums without being ashamed of looking pretentious by the strenght of their art. Yes, this album is art, in the purest sense of the word. I don't see any money ambition here, sure such ambitions are necessary, but it was the excess of it that caused many modern bands to produce such generic and uninspired music lately, only wanting to have their presence on the radio and their pockets filled, letting us progheads ashamed of the course music is taking nowadays. Imagine a "song" like "Augmn" on the radio. Now, why i put the " " around the word song? It's because it's not really a song, it is in fact an experience, which i'd wish that more people would have the patience to travel through and discover its charm. The entire record is a wonderful (and why not "schizophrenic"?) experience. DAMO SUZUKI's vocals reveal that well, the way his voice changes tones during the voyage, rising from almost quiet mumbling to crazy shouts, and also the repetitive and groovy drum beats, making your mind feel sucked by it as it was a black hole leading you to "weirdness land". What a magnificent land you'll discover it is, after giving this album a couple of spins (i don't think the first three songs are that hard to get into, it's from the fourth onwards that the real treat begins!) and discovering its wonderful face.

"Paperhouse" is clearly the most accessible tune from here. Actually i didn't believe it was from this album when i first heard it, it seemed so inoffensive and quite catchy with its moving opening melody. But then the song was advancing to a long instrumental section, and this part was a bit harder to grasp, but of course not as challenging as i thought it would be. And then "Mushroom" started. My first reaction was: geez, i don't like the sound of the repetitive music at all! The drum (?) sound also kind of annoyed me, and then i decided to give it some more chances. It now has became one of my fav songs ever, and the once irritating drum pattern became an addictive one to me. "Oh Yeah" is in the same vein, and it's even better. The drums just stick your ears to the song, and DAMO's vocal performance is really nice here. The first verse is recorded backwards, the second is sung in "Engrish" (he has a neat japanese accent, actually. I think it fits for the non-conventional music found here very well!), and then in Japanese. After this, the majestic "Halleluhwah" (or something like that) starts. This is another song that i was let down on first listen. I thought "what is the point on making a 18-minute long track without many variation? Just the basic groovy melody followed with some psychedelic noises and vocals around!". Well, following the "rule of every proghead who is being faced against an inaccesible song", i gave it more listens. And now i am completely hooked by it! This is probably the band's best work, and works very well as a groovy and catchy song. Repetitive? A bit, but who am i to judge its minimalism since i just feel completely addicted to the wonderful melody found here. And, if you pay attention, it quite progresses! It is not as minimalist as NEU!'s work, for example. Of course it's based on that same drum rhythm all along, but what a great rhythm is that! But hold your sits, because now the real craziness begins. "Augmn" is twisted, insane and may be "offensive" to many ears. It's basically a crazy experiment featuring lots of scary vocalization and electronic sounds all around for almost 18 minutes. Now this may scream pretentious, but just change the p word (that can turn someone off) to "art". It is not pretentious, it is art! They had the guts to make this kind of music on the begining of the 70's! And did that quite well, since "Augmn" allows your brain to explore its corners, you can imagine a situation of it, make a story yourself, the musicians are so free with their music that they allow you to be free with your own impressions about it! The same thing applies for "Peking O", which is even more inaccesible, in contrast of the softer closing track, "Bring me Coffee or Tea" (i prefer coffee sometimes...), which is like a refresh from the scary last two numbers. It has a beautiful melody (just pay attention...), and ends the album on a high note.

This is CAN's masterpiece. They'll do it great on Future Days too, but all the quitessential works by the band and their creative peak are here. It's amazing how they progressed from Soundtracks to this one. Also, they predicted a lot of genres in music found on the next decades, so this album is both historically important and also a masterpiece of prog rock that can be enjoyed if a little effort is put into. Just don't be turned off by "Augmn", think of it as an experience, try to create your own images of it, the song will work much better. And this album won't turn you schizophrenic!! It is actually the kind of music that will work as a mind / creativity exercise, so don't start questioning how sane you are for enjoying such unique music. This is an excellet gem, so, with no fear, i give the full rating to this seminal album of progressive music.

Report this review (#108163)
Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Wizard
5 stars As I sit here listening to this strange beat noise machine that is Tago Mago I feel that normal language conventions cannot describe it's surreal beauty.

Organic soft machines creating beats that never tire

Freak singing mantra is alien tongues

Electrik madness all focusing on one central space groove

Structure constantly evolving, developing into new sound shapes

The bass plucking and skin hitting molded together to form the backdrop

all the song warps around this backdrop

but only in the first half of Mushrooms, houses of paper

i can smell new wave, new age, and new music being forecasted into the future

then all structure is raped by chaos

the improv of Tago Magos first half seems relatively normal

freedom seems to be the focus

musical anarchy, rebelling against melody and conventions

waves of hell are released as Augmn comes

demons playing drum mantras, violins scratches echo madness

chaos is beauty in Tago Mago

it is musical dada

Peking O exemplifies dada in the form electronic atmosphere pyschedelia

giving way to spurts of drum machines spurting off percussive jisms

the alien is screaming in terror, spitting out every noise he can

then relazation settles in the meditation sanity of Coffee and Tea

you can relax and chill but the bizzarre insanity has yet to settle

dismiss this as self indulgent insanity OR realize

the brilliant telepath jam musicianship

its brilliant celebration of the power of chaos and insanity

the eerie atmoshpere the band makes with earthly ease

the massive influence on all music to later come

Communal musical ideas being joined to create this masterwork

Anarcy in musical form, anything goes, all laws rejected

Nihilistic attitude towards all conventions of 'sane' music

Report this review (#112650)
Posted Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have not always though that Can's "Tago Mago" was a masterpiece. At first, i didn't even like it. However, i did not give up on it, and when i finally came around, it changed my view on music completely. First of all, there is not a lot of emotion going on in Can's music. Can is not about lyrics, they're not about melody, not guitar solos or keyboard runs. If you expect an atmospheric piece of ambient music for relaxation á la Agaetis Byrjun by Sigur Ros, then Tago Mago is as far from what you're looking for as possible. Can is about rhuthm. Hard, pounding rhythm, which will knock on the door to your mind with such might that you will eventually have to let it in, and then it fills you up completely with its infectious drum grooves, japanese backwards-singing, slowed-down mantras and all other psychedelic madness packed into the krautrock masterpiede which is Tago Mago.

The first halv of the album is easily the most accessible, and pretty straight-forward (by Can standards). Four songs for both mind and body (prog is not always the most danceable music genres, but Oh Yeah would fit like a glove on the dance floor). Heavy, repetitious drum grooves, schizofrenic singing, electronic sound effects and floating guitar are the common denominators for songs 1 through 4.

Disc 2, that's where it gets really interesting, and also where most people give up on the album. I understand that. There's no denying that Aumgn and Peking O are two highly experimental compositions, with almost none of the danceability or almost-melody which were present previously. I would not blame anyone for thinking they are a waste of time and album space and take away a star or two from their rating, or simply choose to skip them completely every time they listen to the album. I myself almost never listen to the whole thing at the same time, it's always either disc 1 or disc 2 depending on my mood. A while ago, however, i was almost never in the mood for disc 2 and it took me some of Godspeed you! Black Emperor's more "noisy" compositions for me to get the hang on the unmelodic behemoth that is Aumgn. I don't think that i would have bothered, however, if it wasn't for the return of Jaki Liebzeit (drummer) during the last 5 minutes of the track, when he delivers a drum "solo" which is enough to make you wonder if the world is still outide your window. And then, of course, Peking O is even more experimental. A hilarious track, with a drum machine on speed and Damo Suzuki on a sugar rush. Has to be experienced to be believed.

In short, not an album you go round humming all days, but if you're ready to take your mind for a ride, you will HAVE to check this one out. Plus, the sound on the remasterd SACD-edition is really great.

Report this review (#118063)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I came to this band late, having not heard of them until my foray into techno and dub in the 1990s. Groups such as THE ORB claimed CAN as a seminal inflence, so I had to find out why.

What a treat. This is not radio-friendly music; the emphasis here is on rhythm and experimentation. Just like any ambient techno album, this is best listened to - er - in a contemplative mood, allowing the rhythms and patterns to wash over you. In one sense there's nothing to 'get': music like this is best when you allow it to work on what you bring to the listening experience. It's unlikely that each track will resonate with you at each listen, but there's enough variety and repetition here to strike a (dis)chord with most listeners.

It's certainly not one of my favourite albums, and I seldom listen to it. But it, and the other CAN albums of this period, were important to the development of a number of music genres. It is one of those low rotation, high interest albums that make any music collection better. And 'Halleluwah' is a monster.

Report this review (#118249)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Tago Mago is widely considered the best Can album. Having only heard this one and Future Days, I can't speak to that, but this is certainly a strange and unique double album. The first half is filled with groove oriented Krautrock jams, like Paperhouse and Mushroom. I can't say I'm very fond of these songs. The singer's voice strikes me as somewhat annoying and the aimless repetition does nothing for me. However, after just a few songs, the album takes an abrupt left turn into spacey experimentalism.

Here Can seems less jazzy and more similar to other Krautrock bands like Faust. Halleluwah and Aumgn are long, swirling experiments of droning vocals, sound collage and other weird studio experiments. This type of music is much more up my alley, and I really enjoy these two songs, although they do get a little self indulgent after about ten minutes.

Bring Me Coffee Or Tea is similar to the songs that begin the album, but much more successful in my opinion. Can is not one of my favorite Krautrock bands, and I prefer Future Days to Tago Mago, but there is a lot here to appreciate. It just goes on a bit too long.

Report this review (#132544)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars The yoke is on the listener

I'm not a fan of Can, or indeed this type of music. Those who know and love their music can therefore safely ignore this review. For those unfamiliar with their work however, the intention here is to provide a balance by offering the views of someone who enjoys prog, but does not particularly enjoy this.

"Tago mago" was actually Can's fourth album, although in their discography it will always appear as their third due to their debut "Delay" not actually being released until the 1980's. An ambitious affair, this was originally a double LP with a running time of about 73 minutes. Around the time of its release, record companies were usually reluctant to sanction double albums due to the increased production costs and consequent need to charge a higher price. We can therefore assume that the band felt they had sufficient material of a high quality to justify such a package.

The album offers a collection of just seven tracks, ranging from the challenging to the downright inaccessible. Side one is arguably the most conventional, with three pretty basic rock tracks. "Paperhouse" starts softly with some of the most melodic singing on the album, before the incessant dominant rhythms take over, fronted by some good guitar work. This segues into the sparse "Mushroom", a rather infantile repetitious number which can actually play on the nerves! "Oh yeah", which completes the first side, maintains the repetition while the vocals are played backwards. If you think things might be getting a bit silly, you are spot on!

"Hallelujah" sets off with a basic percussive rhythm which does not change for the 18+ minutes of the track. Various themes and sounds drift in and out, but the track remains simplistic and undeveloped. If the first LP was essentially dull, based on repetition of basic rhythms, the second descends further into obscurity. "Aumgn" is nothing other than a band tinkering with sounds and instruments for 17 minutes, devoid of any musical inspiration. If you enjoy certain types of noises, perhaps there is something here for you, but for anyone looking for something remotely melodious, this track is a non starter.

The final side consists of "Peking O", effectively a continuation of "Aumgn" only louder, and "Bring me coffee or tea". The latter finally resorts to an almost melodious theme, the track sounding all the richer due to what has preceded it.

It may seem strange to question the progressiveness of a double album with two side long tracks and just seven tracks in total. The point here is though that the track lengths simply reflect the fact that the band takes a simple riff or rhythm, and repeats it ad-nauseum. There's no development of the themes, and little if any changes to the pace of each track. The playing is simplistic and in reality totally undemanding upon the performers. In short, an album only for those who know what they are letting themselves in for.

Incidentally, the sleeve image on my original LP version is completely different, showing a photograph of the band playing live, taken from behind the drums tool.

Report this review (#137952)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars It's pretty incredible that out of 88 ratings (including mine) only four people rated it as a 3 star record. This is the kind of album that seems to polarize prog fans, mainly because of the experimental stuff that's going on, along with the repetetive melodies. I'm one fan who although not a big fan of experimental music, really appreciates the genius going on here, and one has to acknowledge that this band and album have been a huge influence in the music world. The first time I heard the first song I was at work, and because I had put 5 new discs in the player, and was busy with customers as the discs changed to the next one, I didn't know who was playing. I thought to myself "That sounds like RADIOHEAD" but I knew I didn't have any of their discs in the player. When I saw it was CAN I smiled in amazement knowing what a huge influence CAN was on Thom Yorke. I read somewhere else that the similarities are even more obvious on CAN's first album "Delayed". This was released as a double album although it was originally agreed that the first album only was to be released. But one of the band members' girlfriends talked the record label (without the band knowing) into releasing the second album along with the first. So all you people who hate the second half of this cd can blame this lady. The rest of us thank her very much.

"Paperhouse" does remind me of RADIOHEAD mostly because of the lazy vocals. Guitar, drums and keys provide the backdrop to Suzuki's vocals. The drums pick up the pace 2 minutes in and the guitar becomes more aggressive. Vocals become intense after 4 minutes before the song calms back down and blends into "Mushroom". This song features stoned out vocals and repetetive drums. "Oh Yeah" begins with an explosion and the sound of thunder and rain. Steady drums with keys and backward taped Japanese vocals are up next. Guitar melodies after 3 minutes and the song seems to get better as it plays out. "Halleluwah" has an awesome beat that is fantastic 2 minutes in. The drumming is unbelieveable. The beat stops temporarily before 5 minutes as it calms down with piano. The beat comes back with guitar sounds. The vocals get more aggressive 9 1/2 minutes in as do guitar solos. Amazing ! This is trippy, hypnotic stuff man. The tension escalates 16 minutes in then we're trippin' again. The vocal melodies are cool to end the song.

"Aumgn" is spacey and at times dark. Viola 3 1/2 minutes in as more dark, deep bass sounds pulse. Percussion comes and goes.8 minutes in the sounds are getting more sinister. Percussion 12 minutes in and other loud noises. Hey even the dog is barking 13 1/2 minutes in. Who let him in the studio ? The drumming is incredible 14 minutes in to the end. "Peking O" opens with 3 minutes of spacey sounds and vocals. Organ arrives before we get a beat before 3 minutes. Strange sounds including crazy vocals that go from speaking to laughing to he's pretty much lost his mind. Yeah this is a very experimental song. "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" is a great way to end the album. Another song reminding me of RADIOHEAD, again because of the vocals. This is a mellow, dreamy track that recalls the way the album started, we've come full circle.

Essential Krautrock !

Report this review (#140577)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Sgt pepper of Krautrock! And yust like Captain Beefhearts Trout mask replica it devides opininos like no other album some hate it and dont understand whats the fuzz is all about and some like me love it, but no one can denia its importance. After orginal vocalist Malcolm Mooney departed shortly after the release of Can's debute album Monster Movie in 1969, bassist Holger Czukay and drumer Jaki Leibezeit chanced upon Japanese street musician Damo Suzuki preforming in Munich and invited him to perfrom with the band that evening. Suzuki's flexible vocals-ranging from calm whisper to wild shrieking-caused the 1,500-strong audience to flee the venue. Tago Mago opens with the gentle eastern melodies of "Paperhouse," the almost alien-sounding "Mushroom," and explosiv, mysterious backward vocals of "Oh Yeah." After this remarkable beginning, the relentless rhythmic gargantula groove of "Halleluwah" (sampled by Primal Scream on 1997's "Kowalski") features guitarist Micheal Katoli's Teutonic funk licks Cazukay's tape loops alongside blues piano, tortured violins, and industrial noise before blistering into a huge psychedelic climax. The Aleister Crowley-inspired "Aumgn" takes the experimentation furher; a vocal mentra delivered by keyboardist Irmin Schmidt is shrouded with sinister ambience. "Peking O" have Suzuki sounding like hes geting biten by a bug, and screaming and sounding likes hes going insane toghter with fast and hectic playing from the band making the song feel yust like your in Peking in the rush hour with people and cars everywhere. The closing "Bring me coffe or tea" is no small comfort after these musical endurance tests. Alongside groups such as Kraftwerk and Faust, Can's fusion of Stockhausen's early electronic experiments and The Velvet Underground's art rock, proved German rock bands were starting to find their own identity without resorting to pastiche of American or British acts. Even after 30 years Tago Mago sounds refreshingly contemprary and gloriously extreme. A essential Prog album everyone must hear atleast once in thiere life, and my personal favorite krautrock album toghter with Amon Duul II's "Yeti". 5 stars.
Report this review (#140649)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Seriously great album, this one. By far Can's best; the reason it's not as highly rated as some of Can's inferior albums is because all the people who have a negative opinion of the band bombarded this album because it's their most famous.

Anyway, Paperhouse, Mushroom, Oh Yeah, Halleluwah and Bring Me Coffee or Tea are all great tracks that make this one of the definitive albums of this genre. Aumgn and Peking O are psycho jams that some complain about but I find them to be entertaining in their way. The grooves on this album are funkier and more memorable than on any other albums by the band, especially in the monster Halleluwah. The incessant drum beat is supercatchy and the organ climax is is beautifully done. This band and this album in particular were quite influential, even if their followers couldn't come close, and while Kraut isn't my favorite, it is essential to anyone interested in the genre. I give it 4 stars due to my personal enjoyment of it, but add another if you are a huge fan of Krautrock and can't get enough of the stuff.

Report this review (#150553)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Either you get it or you don't, right? In that case, maybe I don't. After being through this album many times and in many moods (though admittedly no chemically-induced ones), words such as genius and masterpiece simply don't come to mind when I think of Tago Mago. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake I did, which is to apply the traditional prog rule-of-thumb that longer tracks are generally better. The exact opposite rule applies to this album in fact.

I think some reviewers have failed to fully appreciate that there is some good music to be found on this album, even in the traditional sense. Paperhouse and Mushroom are both very enjoyable tracks, as they build up to the main rhythm and have plenty of enjoyable, twangy guitar as well as minimal yet essential keys. The closer, Bring Me Coffee or Tea is also a highlight, building up enjoyably to a very spacey tribal drum and dual guitar conclusion. These three songs made the album worth my money to buy.

Then we come to the longer tracks, starting with Halleluhwah, which is an 18-minute long drum beat with some decent melody throughout and some moderately spacey effects. How people can call this great drumming is beyond me, unless greatness is measured more by how long you can keep a beat rather than if you can put enough variation on a beat to keep it interesting. I also wonder how the record execs allowed this to happen. I get the feeling that Can decided they would keep going as long as they wanted, and not stop a moment sooner--on a different day they may been in the mood to make a double album just of this beat. I'm glad they didn't!

Finally we have Aumgn and Peking O, which are just long runs of sound effects and noodling. They are truly terrible, though I have to say I at least enjoy them more than Crimson's Moonchild meanderings.

Like most albums, Tago Mago should have been condensed into one. There is good music here that many people do not seem to see. There is also some truly worthless music that different people seem willing to overlook. The result is a decent but flawed album--in the end you don't have to love it or hate it.

Report this review (#156189)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Can - Tago Mago 1971

This album is a series of experiences. Nothing like most other listeners ever get to hear. It is obscure, difficult and possibly determined to annoy... (Peking O). The two tracks that are the usual bane of this album are this and Aumgn. Aumgn is something where you have to listen to it on a lateral thought mode as most of the effect of this track happens as a consequence of the playing. By this I mean that the double bowed bass, the drawn out vocals, analogue synths and the percussion take arrangement into a new void. Oh yes, this one I like very much. This is source music and really quite fabulous. The second part of Aumgn features a suite of drumming and percussion that should be another track as it bears no resemblance to the previous section but it does have a drawn out segue into the percussion. It's like Granchester Meadows and Several Small Creatures in the way the two parts of Aumgn merge.

Tago Mago is an album you do have to be in a certain mood to enjoy. Mainly because we are all trained or brought up to hear melodies, rhythms in an arranged, acceptable manner - dare I say format?

Oddly perhaps, it's what I do not hear that I regret not hearing; I really enjoy Karoli's guitar work, his soloing is quite out of this world but this aspect is just not really a part of this album, it's there in part, just not as prevalent as later on. This album probably is Czukay's work as the studio is most certainly an instrument and Holger wielded the studio. The drumming on this album, especially Aumgn and the 18m Halleluhwah is both economical (dynamic) contrasting with percussive flourishes of stunning dexterity and imagination.

It is psychedelic, spaced out, yet oddly not dated as it is music that uses it's technology rather than vice versa. The effect is textural and the moods often at odds with one another. With Peking O laughter is probably the intended effect by Can.

There are those that will never like this and think little of it. Certainly if you are used to hearing standard music verse, chorus etc this will not find favour there. But if abstract avant garde, RIO, pyschedelia is to your taste then here is a very good listen. I like all the symphonic progressive rock bands as well for the most part. I like them for their own progressiveness as I like Can who will go along with the more experimental side of Pink Floyd if you need something to compare.

This album is brave, adventurous and well considered, it is difficult, progressive, weird (in the good way as I find people that want to listen to Top 40 and only Top 40 to be truly odd). There are no climaxes that a Floyd fan often appreciates / anticipates, the Echoes, Comfortably Numb type of guitar thrill. This music is out there and a few listens will prime you. But be prepared to be primed.

I will not say listen without prejudice, but Can did not make this album to not be enjoyed. However it is very rewarding if you dare allow it. It is daring and perhaps you have to be as well.

One last thing, I must emphasize, there is nothing dated about it. This is seriously timeless music, not for everyone, true, but adventurous and an incredible head-trip. I can't say you cannot go wrong because this may never grab you. But it's worth a whole lot of listens to find out...

It is excellent, probably essential but above all it is progressive... still... 4.5 stars. Too eclectic for perfection, maybe Aumgn does it for you as it does for me. Or Halleluhwah. Or not...

Thanks for reading, hope this helps you.

Report this review (#156789)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is a brilliant example of fun, groovy and experimental rock music. It stems from the early 70's: a period of music Europe-wide that brought so much exciting sonic adventure. Tago Mago offers infectious and likeable vocal work with drum beats that inspired the modern electronic breakbeat and drum n bass scenes (Mushroom & Oh Yeah especially). The guitar play overall is not so strong but it complements well enough. Production values are pretty good, some excellent use of panning and reverb to create big spaces, but there is a bit too much treble. Sound effects are used illiberally to good effect.

Here a track-by-track:

Paperhouse - 5

The opener is actually quite lifeless, it features too much tinny guitar play and is never allowed to get into a groove. The structure of this 7-minute piece is promising but the execution is not diverting. Paperhouse is the kind of song you don't remember how it sounds like even after listening to it a dozen times.

Mushroom - 8

This is good, funky stuff. The vocal work laconically delivers nonsense while subtle guitar licks increase the infectiousness of the music. The drumming reminds of modern electro funk beats.

Oh Yeah - 9

Oh yeah! This is a real-earpricker. A groover that makes you move featuring determined drumming, reversed and then (presumably) japanese vocals, excited guitar picking and driving bass. You dance and swing to this one: Oh Yeah stands out as an immediate classic of 'rock music that inspires booty-shaking' (or arse-wiggling if you prefer).

Halleluwah - 7

A chunky and funky drum drives this number for a good 18 minutes. It won't hold your attention for that long tho', as some of the complementary action from vocals, guitars, pianos, violins and the odd effect aren't always that interesting. This piece would sound good in a bar, where dancing with a drink in your hand is the order. Halleluwah does end very well: rock-out percussionism then finally some memorable cries from Damo the singer.

Aumgn - 8

This is great! Horror-style abstractism with the medium of sound. Lights off, headphones on and trip away darkly (imagine a weird torture scene).

Peking - 8

The beginning isn't that great, but before you press skip wait until the hawaiian groove after two-and-a-half minutes sets in. Warm, mumbling and attractively-insane vocals wash over the sunshine. After 5 minutes it all goes strange, but the percussion work is (again) brilliant as is the communication between singer and instrumentation. Peking ends sounding like an extension to Aumgn.

Bring Me Coffee Or Tea - 6

Sounds quite nice, the sounds are warm but the piece overall lacks something interesting. It reminds of later Sonic Youth.


I only discovered Can and Tago Mago a month go, but it's been a quite regular companion. I hear from long-time Can fans that this albums' appeal never tires, so that's promising. I really like it, I would prefer a more bass-heavy production (possible with a re-mastering). I would also like the guitar licks to be a bit more adventurerous and full (no longer possible!). But other than that Tago Mago is an exciting piece of music to listen to and will appeal to fans of early Floyd and Gong as well as music-lovers looking for something that is groovy, funny, abstract and is soaked in the colour of yellow dipped in orange.

Report this review (#157324)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Parts of this album are not too bad and....I might even get to like them.....but parts of this album are not even close to music..... I am a huge Pink Floyd fan....and some of this weird stuff reminds me of Pink Floyd's weird moments.....but 18 or 19 minutes of straight noise is just too much.... This may be a great album for some people....but I can't listen to large portions of it.....
Report this review (#168329)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am suprised this album isn't rated higher. This is certainly my favorite CAN album. This music has a certain otherworldly magic to it in the same way MAGMA does. That being said, it sounds nothing like MAGMA. It just sounds so crisp, so confident. I would truly recommend this album to anyone who wants to explore CAN. The percussion is a blessing upon Earth.
Report this review (#170426)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Best album of all time. Hands down. Pure Genius. Everything comes in exactly when it is supposed to. I find absolutely no fault in this record. Its like someone took a recording of a brain, and then put it on an album.

Paper House: starts off slow and graceful and sad. picks up into a chugging beat, emulating someone running, running, running. Suzuki's whisperings sound like pants. The solos are perfect. Not too much. Not too little. Just perfect.

Mushroom: Restrained, but blatant. I'm gonna get my despair. I can feel that I am too. One of the best. Sort of reminds me of the feeling of being in some nightmare.

Oh Yeah: Ethereal. Floating a million miles over the universe. Oh Yeah.

Halleluwah: The Best song by Can, if not one of the greatest ever. The lasts forever, they can't end it...whoever came up with that groove is pure genius. The sound effects floating in and out is perfect. Best song.

Augmn: Nirvana.

Peking O: Pure insanity. The only way to describe it. The feeling I get when I listen to it is probably not much different than the feeling an ax-murderer gets when he kills someone.

Bring me coffee or tea: like a real tired runner after a marathon. still sublime, but tranquil. ends with a bang.

a must have.

Report this review (#171177)
Posted Friday, May 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tago Mago is the third studio album from German krautrock act Can. Can´s debut album Monster Movies was an excellent, raw and unpolished krautrock album with repetitive beats, psychadelic sounds and some punk like vocals. Great album that one. Their second album called Soundtracks was recorded for various filmprojects and wasn´t recorded for a full album release, but Can´s record company demanded a new album and then Soundtracks was released as Can´s second album. It´s a good album but not as good as Monster Movies IMO. Soundtracks features two different lead singers as the lead singer from Monster Movies Malcolm Mooney sang on a couple of the songs on that album while new vocalist Damo Suzuki sings on the rest. Damo Suzuki is the only vocalist on Tago Mago though.

The music on Tago Mago is really excellent for the most part. The best music so far from Can ( even better than Monster Movies). A bit more melodic and memorable compared to their earlier releases. The repetitive beats are still a dominant part of the sound while Damo Suzuki´s vocals and the psychadelic sounds created by Michael Karoli on guitar and Irmin Schmidt on keyboards create the melodic foundation in Can´s music on Tago Mago.

I have to give a special mention to drummer Jaki Liebezeit as his performance on Tago Mago is simply astonishing. To keep repetitive krautrock beats exciting and challenging throughout a 73:15 minute long album is an amazing achivement that he seems to do with ease. What a great musician. People who call his playing boring haven´t listened enough to the details in his playing IMO. Bassist Holger Czukay´s playing is excellent as well.

Tago Mago was originally a double LP but the album is now featured on a single CD. There are seven songs on Tago Mago and five of them are masterpiece psychadelic krautrock songs while two of them are more in avant garde mode and I must admit not really to my liking. The first four songs: Paperhouse, Mushroom, ( the wonderful) Oh Yeah and the 18:32 minute long Halleluhwah are essential krautrock songs and I would put the last song on the album Bring Me Coffee Or Tea in the same catagory. The 17:22 minute long Aumgn and the 11:35 minute long Peking O are simply too avant garde and noisy for my taste. The first more than the marginally more enjoyable latter. I know other people who enjoy these songs, so it´s definitely an aquired taste. The experiments are innovative and well done but I don´t enjoy the overall sound in those two songs.

The production is fantastic. I´m really impressed and delighted with this sound.

Tago Mago is a really excellent album and had all songs been of the same high quality I would have given the album 5 stars. But as almost half an hour of the music is something I skip almost every time I listen to the album I´ll have to take away the last star and only give Tago Mago 4 stars. This album is highly recommended though and for people who like psychadelic music this is a must buy.

Report this review (#185029)
Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tago Mago is a brilliant album that I'm surprised hasn't got a higher rating here.

Paperhouse is he most straightforward song, and explores psychedlia. Mushroom is another psychedelic song, but with a more intense feel. Oh Yeah has experimental use of backmasked vocals, which on closer listening you cqn sometimes feel like there's words amongst the nonsense. Halleluhwah is the first of several monster tracks. Halleluhwah is punctuated by a strong drum bea and he introduction of various sounds achieved by guitars, synths and tape trickery. Augm pushes the atention up a notch and introduces some very weird noises without much structure. Very atmospheric. Peking O is an even less accessible track, with vocals being sublimely crazy. An interesting song. Bring Me Coffee or Tea returns to pure psychedlia in an epic way.

This has quicklybecome a favourite of mine, and an unquestionable 5 stars

Report this review (#185497)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is perhaps the most well-known Krautrock album and thus makes a good first review for the genre. There is definitely some really interesting and accomplished material in here, but it comes across as uneven and very moody.

1. Paperhouse- This is an interesting, straight-forward psychedelic introduction that has a hypnotic feel to it (that feel is sustained throughout the album).An explorative piece that relies on a unique atmosphere and song structure as the driving factor. I'm not sure what to think of it though. 5/10

2. Mushroom- A haunting hypnotic 4/4 track that actually is the most effective song on here, despite being the most simplistic. The instrumentation is sufficient and the mood creates an always-interesting psychedelic song. 8/10

3. Oh Yeah- There's nothing outright wrong with the structure of this song, but most of the time it fails to enthrall me. Many of the songs on here you have to be in the right mood for and don't equate to oft listening; why that is, I'm not entirely sure. Another well-played psychedelic track with intriguing guitar, but it usually doesn't interest me a whole lot. 4/10

4. Halleluhwah- My favorite song on the album, and usually my reason for listening to it. This is an incredibly experimental track that really is a ride-driven by one of the most infectious drum grooves I've ever heard. It may be repetitive in basic structure, but the song builds throughout its duration to make an effectively enjoyable epic. 9/10

5. Aumgn- If you thought any of the previous songs were weird. just wait until you hear this. This song heavily relies on atmosphere and experimentation; if you are expecting traditional song structure, I'm warning you now on this one. It is a very good song for what it is trying to accomplish, but it is mood-based for me. Sometimes I really enjoy this track and other times not as much. Nonetheless, it definitely is intriguing and well-composed. 7/10

6. Peking O- This is even weirder than the last song! This is definitely the hardest song for me to rate on here, as it is the most polarizing. It may be revolutionary, but this is so dependent on my mood it's not even funny. If I'm not in the right mood and anything annoys me during the span of this album, it's this song. It's downright weird as all hell, but I don't know if it's in a good way. Sometimes I wonder if this was all thrown together, and this is coming from someone who has RIO/Avant as his favorite sub-genre. It still is interesting to hear and somewhat enjoyable. If you're in the mood for it however, it can be relatively satisfying. Not as effective as the previous track though, I'd say. 6/10

7. Bring Me Coffee or Tea- Phew. After the last two songs, this one is not near as odd. Unfortunately, I prefer the previous two songs nearly all the time, because this one does not strike a chord with me at all. It really drags on and sounds like psychedelic drivel to me. Bad album closer. At least the instrumentation is good. 4/10

Well, this is definitely an intriguing and unique listen, but is it essential for a music lover's collection? No.

This is such a hard album to rate and I have a difficult time recommending to most proggers out there, but it is usually at least enjoyable in many parts and is quite revolutionary.

Report this review (#191635)
Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2008 | Review Permalink

Straight to the point! Who would lose time while listening to these records to type some words on the net. :)

CAN is one of those magical bands you can't like on the first listen. At least I couldn't. I knew their discography for years and all their albums sounded like a solid 3 stars to me. I had listened all kinds of rock music and music in general but somehow I have managed NOT to hear what CAN says. And than slowly it grabbed me and all I felt was hunger for more. Now, I can say CAN is IMHO one of the greatest bands of progressive rock and THE krautrock band. Essential in the same way FLOYD, GENESIS, CRIMSON are.

TAGO MAGO, Ege Bamyasi and Future days are all masterpieces of progressive music in general and therefor deserves 5 star rating. If I had to choose I would say that EGE Bamyasi is slightly weaker than Future and Tago, but even that but be unjust.

Time to grow necessary but rewarding.

Report this review (#206601)
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Edit: Disregard what I said earlier about Augumn and Peking O. I think both of those songs, as well as this album, have finally fully hit me. And so, I feel upgrading my review from 4 stars to 5 is quite appropriate. This is easily Can's best album.

If the warning "watch your step" could be applied to an album, I would certainly apply it to this one. Of course, I could also leave you with the assumption that some of these songs/jams/moments of psychedelic tripping seem to run one way too long. And for the longest time I believed that (for the most part). However I've moved away from that notion over time.

Some call this Krautrock, some call it psychedelic, and some call it jam music. Quite honestly it is really all three. For me, Can's musical quality comes down to two things: the first is vocalist Damo Suzuki and the second is the rhythm section. And on this release, both are in top form. I imagine that it would be fairly difficult to keep an album mostly composed of repetitive beats and as long as this one is and still make it exciting, challenging, and dense. But Can really comes through in these aspects. I believe a friend told me that when Can would perform "Halleluhwah" live, Damo would perform the first section in English, the second in Japanese, and the third in scat lyrics, mostly comprised of random shouting and babbling. His voice, like this album, is definitely an acquired taste, but if you come to understand and appreciate it he really does have an amazing talent at making the lyrics fit the music.

I think the most challenging aspect of the album to get around wasn't so much the song lengths, but the 2 songs "Augumn" and "Peking O". The other 5 songs I'm fine with but on those two my mind will tend to wander fairly frequently. Sometimes they make me think of if a RIO/Avant-garde band (Henry Cow is a good example) employed psychedelic sounds to some of their more jam-esque songs that make my thoughts go somewhere else. Normally I can appreciate improvisation, but on these two songs it just gets on my nerves from time to time. Sometimes when I listen to this album I'll skip one of the two tracks or even both of them. The other 5 songs would warrant giving this a 5 star rating, but because of "Augumn" and "Peking O" being 3 star songs I will have to give this 4 stars. I've tried to like them more, but I simply can't. The first 4 songs and "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" however are masterpieces of Krautrock music and are worth purchasing this album. Recommended to fans of psychedelic or avant-garde music that enjoy really good rhythm sections and unusual vocals.

Report this review (#219593)
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Kraut-tripping in the Can

I've tried to dip my toes into all the subcategories here at PA, and the last little pond to cool my toes has been Krautrock. I picked up a few of the usual suspects a few months ago and the first was Can's TAGO MAGO. This has been offered up as a prototypical Krautrock album and to be certain, all of the signature elements seem to be here. A slap-happy white swing propels this trippy music, loosening the effects-laden sound into a freakish dance that looks forward to underground dance ideas in more recent decades.

Like all dance music, the beats are quite repetitive and the harmony / melody quite simple. So how did this get associated with prog? Because Krautrock seems to be first and foremost about timbre, sound, texture, and some quite amazing experimentation happens in these German hands and feet. As a musician who has done my share of playing with the knobs on equipment, all the little weird noises that you thought would never fit into real music seem to work in this style. Remarkably, it's not gaudy or overdone. It's just an element in the freak out feel.

The main vibe I get from this music is late 60's art scene. This is the kind of music I imagine playing at Andy Warhol's parties, what the abstract visual artists would have used to create a surreal universe to present their work. As one can imagine from that scene, three decades later, the music comes off with more than its share of kitsch. The songs are long, meandering jams that really are about atmosphere but have absolutely no sense of destination. There is minimal tension and release, no choruses, no themes, just groove and texture. In fact, some later tracks also dispense with the groove, becoming noisy meditations.

At the heart of this music are some things that typically don't appeal to me. The lo-fi ethic, the repetitive, straightforward drums, the lack of harmonic complexity. This is not something that a traditional symphonic prog fan is going to like very much. Like proto-Beck without the economy or songwriting abilities, this is a self-consciously hip music. It certainly blazes its own trail but is just coming from a different part of the soul than my musician's taste does.

As background music at a theme party, this could be perfect. Without a doubt, there are some very cool noises on this record. When I'm in certain whacked-out moods, I do reach for this occasionally. (I reach for my single Ash Ra Tempel album more frequently though). For me, it's a 2-3 star novelty.

Report this review (#244408)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tago Mago is a monster. Two vinyl discs of Can at their weird, funky peak. I'm no fan of two disc albums, as they are usually way too much for me- in fact, I often have trouble with anything over 50 minutes, let alone 73 minutes of strange, experimental music from the ever-so-strange minds of Can.

Paperhouse is a long, jazzy song, featuring loud, sharp guitar playing and crashing drums. Mushroom is Can's best short song- a catchy, schizophrenic song that feels like insanity. The lyrics could maybe be about nuclear war, but really, you never know with Can. After that comes one of Can's best, Oh Yeah; it begins with a literal bang, and then Liebezeit's mechanical drums come charging in, as Suzuki's backwards Japanese mumbles discombobulate the brain and give the track a feeling of a man who is fully engaged in the process of losing his mind. And then... Halleluwah, the 18-minute Goliath that takes Side Two as its own. This is a long, funky, trippy, song, with stellar performances from everyone, making a krautrock classic. Aumgn is a long, experimental blob, like a musical amoeba, the swallows the world around you into itself. This isn't one of my favorites, but it's still great. Then, Peking O, one of the craziest, most insane tracks ever made- it makes a lot of Gong stuff look passive. It morphs from a mix of howling guitars, screaming, and clinking drums into a bouncy, mysterious song, spontaneous and chaotic in an orderly manner, like the broken mind of an insane man. In the middle, Liebezeit's drums become fast, aggressive, and pounding, as keyboard marches in a disorderly manner under some of the most hilariously messed-up vocals anybody has created, ever. In a high-pitched whine, the song becomes disorganized and then we come to Bring Me Coffee or Tea. This is a light, song, yet full of feeling- like our mentally distressed man being carted off to the asylum, where he is safe and taken care of. My judgment of Tago Mago is that it's one of the most stunningly unique albums ever made, from one of the most stunning and unique bands to ever exist. This is not for the faint of heart- recommended to someone with a taste for the avant-garde.

Report this review (#247729)
Posted Sunday, November 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
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

Report this review (#259263)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The music characters of albums of them who had been announced at the time of 1973 from especially 1969 might have influenced very various districts. Of course, the revolution of the music that Can did and directionality is the existence of the legend for various musicians. It is also true to have kept always making reformative music after they debut. The meaning of this album will be sure to have the meaning very much for them when thinking about the activity to "Future Days" that they announced. Some respects will be able to be enumerated in it.

Point to have appointed name that was called "InnerSpace" in name of studio that had been used to produce album as symbol to their music. It will have been exactly one of the symbols to their music characters. The involved music character might be in the part where an original theory and the sense had been taken to the element to which the element of various music has been absorbed.

And, the point that the member of the band did not do pure Rock. It conceived a surely experimental element. The flow that the idea that other members had derived from another music character is introduced into the band might have acted on the band with originality though guitar player's Michael Karoli took charge of the part of Rock to some degree.

And, it is partial that keyboard player's Irmin Schmidt made remarks on. "Organism that pulsed powerfully" This word might have shown their directionality at that time and thought enough with this album. Or, it proposes it by Hildegard Schmidt who is the wife of Irmin Schmidt. It was not a sound of a complete band but construction of music mainly composed of the improvisation. It is thought that it has acted on the composition of this album.

Fact where content of this album produced at first as the part has existence as content of two classes. It might be proof where the element and the idea of various music are surely included.

And, the point that this album had already been produced before "Soundtracks". This album is officially registered as 3rd Album. However, details from the debut album to this album might have been very reformative. If the details are considered, the listener will be able to discover a reformative part to which Can had gone.

And, the point that the band tried always to establish existence as the organism and the set. These parts are surely reflected in the content of the album. The part of the impression that the establishment of the genre is not established by the base and the idea of the music character that the member exactly had might be large. It is possible to catch in this album that packs various reformative idea and directionality as one of the important parts in the history of their music.

"Paperhouse" might be a tune with the progress of the ballade. However, the involved anacatesthesia and a straight part can be caught as one of the elements that men at that time gradually revolutionize. A flow advanced as the element of psychedelic is laced with the rhythm including the dash feeling might be a part calculated as a composition. The dash feeling gradually shifts to the element of Blues. This conversion might be splendid.

As for "Mushroom", a complete song twines round the rhythm that puts the accent with the melody with the anacatesthesia. An intermittent arrangement consistently contributes to the sound with gloss that rules the tune.

The line of Bass pulls the tune from the introduction of SE to "Oh Yeah". It might be a tune that derives from the idea of the line of Bass. The gaga part by the rhythm repeated as one of the charms of Can might exist. The sound of decorated keyboard and guitar has succeeded in the decision of the tune to the progress of steady Chord. The song that appears on the way is sung in Japanese. However, it is not significant to the word and the grammar. This part might be an idea of Kenji Suzuki.

"Halleluwah" is a tune that contains the part of Blues and psychedelic. It is a part of the introduction of their good rhythms as the result. And, it is original that doesn't end only by simple Rock. The tune doesn't drop the quality of the flow of the composition of the album. The tune develops gradually while assuming the rhythm to be a subject. A flow steady as the sound of various decorations is taken is created.

"Aumgn" might be a tune of which the element made from the process from which this album is produced went out strongly. The element of the improvisation raises the quality of the composition of this album further. The flow that the sound of the guitar processed by the effect is made anxious is intermittently continued. It might be difficult to understand the meaning of the tune because an improvised part has been put out as a tune. However, the part of the improvisation done through an enchantment song and the whole volume and the introduction of an electronic sound might succeed. And, the rhythm and the flow that appears in the latter half show the power involved to the tune.

"Peking O" might be a tune that irrationality and inorganic order exist together in an improvised element. The sound and the song to make good use of the effect overall continue the tension. The flow including an Oriental a little intention and an experimental part might be in some sense and the part of the calculation. The song gradually accompanies an inorganic rhythm and an unstable melody. The performance that each member does finishes up the tune while repeating intersection and secession. The part of the song proposed from another angle to decorated rhythm and melody might be splendid. The tune explodes suddenly while continuing the tension. The performance and the idea of the band that does a complete improvisation create one space. The idea intermittently done has a complete part with the song. The tension and the dash feeling advance rushing into the part of darkness further.

"Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" is a tune that continues a beautiful melody and the anacatesthesia. It is likely already to have been completed by the process of the production of this album. Power and the explosion that exists together will be decided as an important factor when talking about this album.

It is likely to be taken up as an album that shows one established part and directionality in the flow gradually revolutionized in their initial works.

Report this review (#259374)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Can - Tago Mago (1971)

A breakthrough on many fronts...

Tago Mago is the most controversial of their 'classic period'. Originally released as a double lp it had a strange structure. The first side has three psycho-beat/acid-rock/proto-punk/krautrock tracks, side two had the 18 minute Hallelujah that was basically a jam on just one rhythm with all influences of side one and some extra space influences. Side three was 17 minutes of pure horror soundscapes that would drive most people you know mad and side four has yet another 12 minutes of out-of-the-box experimentation and on shorter gentle track. As you can see by now, this is a very progressive ground-braking concept! I myself think the idea of Can must have been to make a great single record (lp1, side 1 and 2) and give some extra highly unusual experiments on the second lp. Therefore the second lp is far less accessible then the first one. I'll describe both record more accurate now.

The songs on side 1 and 2 all have an abstract psychedelic feel with intense vocals, the best of rhythms with perfect cooperation of drums and bass (Can is the most rhythmical prog act of the history in opinion) and acid like guitars with lot's of distortion. The vocals are confronting, especially on the acid Mushroom that is a song which rhythmic session can still be called modern today, but the vocals are way to extreme for today's standards. Somehow some things Can did never aged and were reinvented by other groups years later (until the day of today). Oh Yeah has more psychedelic and space influences and has again a killer rhythm! The tension of this song is build up by just playing heavier and heavier reaching a great climax. Side two has the 18 minute Hallelujah which is special because of keeping you attention for 18 minutes, though the rhythm section is basically unchanged throughout the song. The band explores ways to get the jam bag into the music and succeeds very well. Some spacey sounds and effects are interesting and It concludes the first record nicely. All tracks of lp 1 have a sort of distinct sound that has this never-ageing vibe. This is the true power of this record, many generations might be surprised how innovative seventies Krautrock was, especially this record.

The second record is different. There are strong avant-garde influences on this one. Aumgn (named after the esoteric cries of most wicked man on earth, Allester Crowly) is a sum of dark instrumental and vocal experiments. People with imaginative minds will find themselves to be on a lot of places during this special experience. People who like drugs should not skip this one! The controversy of using 'black magic' terms and 'spiritual' vocals is truly powerful and shows that Can wasn't going to leave one idea aside because of the social/cultural problems it could have gave them. On Aumgn Can uses guitar delays, a lot's of diffent drums, monk-like uuuuhhs and other sound effects that are sometimes hard to understand. Peking O. uses has yet some more experiments, this time with drum-computers. This is totally not my taste, but it's interesting to listen too for some times. Bring me Coffee or Tea is a song that could have made it to the first record of more conventional Can tracks with some nice guitar work and even melodic chord progressions.

Conclusion. This album has survived the test of time in a brilliant way. Record one is a masterful Can creation and record two is heaven for people who like true experimentation, avant-garde and even music beyond that. I'll rate lp one with four stars and record two with another four stars. The latter doesn't get it's stars for nice listening and have a great sunday afternoon, but because of it's motivation and innovation. This is a very important (I might say essential) record for progressive music: it will appeal to fans of Krautrock, psychedelic rock, psycho-beat, highly rhythmical music, jam-music, avant-garde and experimental music. For others this might be too psychedelic and hard to get into. I myself like the first record very much and have to be in a really good mood to listen to the second, though the latter strikes me as one of the most daring recordings of prog history! Four stars, well deserved!

Report this review (#263923)
Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars TAGO MAGO is one of the most controversial albums under the progressive rock umbrella, and it's easy to see why. When the genre of progressive rock is spoken, people think about lush keyboards, crystal clean production, memorable melodies and carefully constructed compositions; CAN has virtually none of these elements here. I can't make the warning any clearer: if you don't like long jams, compositions that are almost ''nonmusical'' and ''off'' vocals then stay very clear from TAGO MAGO.

It suffers from repetition, and I'm mainly speaking for the long ''Halleluwah''. I have an unfair advantage in liking the jam as I have a long drive to school and ''Halleluwah'' eats up the time quite quickly. ''Paperhouse'' sounds like a leftover from Woodstock, but the instrumental freak out in the middle is one of the highlights. Most with a melodic ear will find ''Bring Me Coffee or Tea'' delightful, a track where the keyboards have a big impact (a rarity for this album). ''Mushroom'' and ''Oh Yeah'' are amusing and nonoffensive, but not strong tracks here.

Where CAN really starts to get controversial are on the tracks ''Aumgn'' and ''Peking O'', two long tracks that barely qualify as actual music. Amidst the 17 minutes of ''Aumgn'', the only things I can recall are the ''AUM''s and scratchy violin notes; it's very annoying to say the least. At least ''Peking O'' finds a way to produce things that sound like beats which makes me happy.

Somehow, one can hear how punk, trance and even hip hop all might have taken influence from this record, but if we're talking about prog (as most of us have come to define ''prog''), then TAGO MAGO is in another universe. This is an album where you'd better know yourself before buying. If you're the music fan that is open, adventurous or has a knack for experimentalism, this is a good purchase.

Report this review (#267362)
Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the best and most reverenced albums in the history of "underground" rock music, Tago Mago was my introduction to Can, and I frankly wouldn't have had it any other way. It's an album that can satisfy snooty prog-rock fans and snooty indie-rock fans alike, combining incredible chops and grooves with incredible sounds and textures in a way that must have been beyond mind-blowing back in 1971 (and that's to say nothing about the creepiness factor). In short, this is the ultimate Can experience.

And you know what, that's a pretty remarkable achievement for an album that, for just under thirty minutes, is pretty danged close to unlistenable. This is a seven-track double album (it fits on one CD, though) that, while starting and ending on perfectly solid notes, hits a whole lot of sour notes (when they can even be called notes) in tracks five and six. Track five is a 17:22 sound collage called "Aumgn," and while I'm certainly tolerant of the kinds of noises Schmidt and Czukay (not to mention Damo, though he's not really in the forefront) fill this track with, I'm not all that sold on the seemingly directionless way in which they're presented here. Track six, entitled "Peking O," mainly features a completely unleashed Damo Suzuki, going nuts with some hyperactive verbal assaults that, if nothing else, certainly foreshadow the works of the later infamous abstract vocalization artist, The Great Cornholio. If ever Can could be accused of truly pointless experimentation, it would be in these two tracks.

On the other hand, though, while part of me certainly wants to accuse Can of this, there's also a part of me that doesn't entirely buy that accusation. Call me nuts, but as mind- boggling and even silly as these pieces might get at points, I never really get the feeling that Can are just BS'ing me and hoping to get away with it. "Aumgn," for all of its wandering wailings, has some really lovely, depressing downbeat sounds and vibes to it (listen to that first minute or so and tell me you don't get a chill or two), and while it certainly suffers from not having an underlying Jaki "thunka-thunka" driving it forward, there's at least a brief patch near the end where the drums show up to make things feel better than they had at first. And in "Peking O," well, it would be noteworthy if for no other reason than for that electronic pitter- patter drum sound that sounds exactly like what I've heard in much of the bits and pieces of 90's "electronica" and beyond (which is almost nothing, but my point stands), and anytime you can predate something that closely by 25+ years, you're going to win my respect. And, doggone it, I like hearing Schmidt playing off of Damo's wails with his electric piano, and I like hearing Damo go so wacky that he even ends up making a *bpbpbpbpbpbpbpbpbpbpb* (fingers running over lips) sound at one point. The point is, these tracks are disturbing and uncomfortable and experiments gone horribly horribly wrong, but they also contain a badly required air of competency to them, and given how they accentuate the vibes of going insane that occupy much of the rest of the album, it's hard for me to completely condemn them. I'll probably go back to skipping them when I listen to the album in the future, but I don't completely rue the time I've spent getting seriously reacquainted with them for this review.

That leaves five tracks, which are so mind-bogglingly great that they almost make this a ***** (were there half stars, it would be a ****1/2) in my eyes. I used to slightly overlook the opening "Paperhouse," but I eventually repented of that. The opening, slower section may not be as immediately grabbing as the hyperactive robotic groove that the piece turns into, but it's got some really lovely piano tinklings buried in the mix if you want to listen to them. Plus, the whole track features a guitar attack that I find more and more interesting every time I listen to it; I'm continually amazed at how graceful the parts from Karoli tend to be here. Of course, it's much easier on this track (as on many Can tracks) to pay attention to the drumming and Suzuki's vocals than to anything else, and that does a good job of setting the tone for "Mushroom," which is everything great about Can poured into a single 4:08 burst. The drums sound even more lo-fi than usual, but they're no less powerful or steady or rhythmic than before, and Suzuki's alternations between low mumbling and loud wailing are arguably better structured here than anywhere else. And dig the explosion at the end, which I guess is supposed to be like the mushroom cloud on the cover, unless of course you think it looks more like a skull getting shot through.

Whatever, we then come to the amazing "Oh Yeah," which initially features backwards vocals and cymbals (but forwards driving rhythm from the drums, yessirree), covered in some of the best low key, atmospheric keyboard noises for this kind of music imaginable, before Damo snaps from the rewind button to the play button, not that it makes any difference for figuring out what he's saying. Sheesh, there's more terrific moody, jazzy, gritty guitar parts, some more of Czukay knowing exactly how much to just hold the piece together and how much to step slightly into the spotlight, and everywhere there's those drums that just seem they could go on for eternity without losing the groove. Amazing.

But not as amazing as the behemoth that comes after. I LOVED "Halleluwah" on my very first listen to it, and that initial infatuation hasn't receded one bit. Many years after first listening to this (my first listen was late 2001), I'm still finding new bits to grab my attention. The drumming on here is absolutely transcendant, even by Jaki's standards; just listen to that complicated rhythm that he's keeping so rock-steady and pounding for almost the entirety of the 18+ minutes of this track, and then notice the rolls he's putting underneath it without once losing the beat in the third minute or so of the piece, and then tell me that he wasn't one of the greatest drummers on earth. And everybody else, well, they take full advantage of this foundation, even more than on the amazing "Mother Sky." More jazzy, even Spanishy-in- places guitar parts, more synth and piano breaks, some amazingly creepy violin noises for good measure, and above all there's Damo. Lessee, there's that one bit where I think he's singing about recording the other tracks on the album (the only vaguely rational explanation I can give for the fact that he's reciting titles of other songs); there's that opening "Well has anybody ever seen the snowman *something* *something* ..." bit; and of course there's the climactic wailings of "HALLELELELELELELELUWAH HALLELELELELELELELUWAH." Does this look scary on paper? Well, trust me, it would to me too, but it all sounds ridiculously awesome when you actually hear it, unless having a musical representation of a person going completely nuts can't possibly represent your idea of awesome.

The album then hits "Aumgn" and "Peking O," but just when it seems we're destined to have such a great start tainted by such a bitter taste to finish it, the band is kind enough to finish off with another classic in "Bring Me Coffee or Tea." It's like, I dunno, it's like coming out of the most wicked, nightmarish acid trip imaginable, and waking up and trying to meditate it off in a dark room. The drums here are different from the rest of the album; not hyper-rhythmic, but definitely not chaotic like on much of the last two tracks. Rather, they're just there to help with the general mood, which is primarily set by the guitars (augmented by sitars quite a bit), and Suzuki's Easternish wails in his typical manner. Imagine a slightly more intense version of "Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone," with the trappings I described, and there you go.

And there you have it, one of the most incredibly screwed up, but also one of the most incredible, albums made in the 70's. The most experimental tracks can scare away even the faithful, but if you can't get into "Mushroom," "Oh Yeah" or "Halleluwah," then Can is simply not for you. Any adventerous music lover should have this.

Report this review (#275566)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars This double album from "Can" is probably a turnkey in their musical history and a definite breakthrough.

The album starts on a fully psychedelic wave, very much early Floyd oriented which is quite a good start by all means. The following "Mushroom" should indicate the source of inspiration of the song. It is quite hectic and of little interest to my ears.

I prefer the rocking "Oh Yeah" which holds a lot from "Sympathy For The Devil" (from the Stones of course). Great beat, fine guitar. A solid track indeed which closed the original first (and good) side of the vinyl.

The full side long at the time "Halleluhwah" is quite minimalist and repetitive. Hypnotic thanks to its beat, this piece of music doesn't speak to me very much. The second part of the track is of a better content (mainly thanks to a clever guitar solo).

The other side long track from this work is quite hermetic, avant-garde, and experimental oriented. I have to admit that it is not my cup of tea. As usual, the drumming is quite prominent but it can't save the bill. A boring seventeen minutes track is my deep feeling.

But the worse is reached with the ugly "Peking O". I can't feel anything positive while listening to such a noise.

The best conclusion I can give is to paraphrase "Easy Livin" who said in his excellent review: " the intention here is to provide a balance by offering the views of someone who enjoys prog, but does not particularly enjoy this".

Two stars.

Report this review (#276354)
Posted Sunday, April 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars The unsettling soundtrack to a lunatic asylum

Can's "Tago Mago" is my first experience with Can who I avoided as a strategic move for years. Krautrock can be incredible as I have noted with German acts such as Ash Ra Tempel and Faust. I absolutely understand why Krautrock is so popular as it is as outside the box of mainstream rock as you can get and I love the original approach, the repetitious hypnotic grooves that lock into your subconscious, the high strangeness, but it is not easy to digest and to get hold of a double album of Can is dangerous, as we should all be aware, as they were experimental and downright weird, and an acquired taste with a cult following. When I bought some Gong years ago, the owner of the small, specialist shop asked if I had heard of Can? I replied, Who? Since then I have slowly discovered them, or rather Can have gradually revealed themselves to me. And now here is 'Tago Mago', that is an iconic piece of Krautrock in every respect and should be respected in this regard. But is it enjoyable? Shouldn't music be enjoyable? Or why bother listening to it? I embarked on this journey with Can simply due to their notoriety, but I will never be a Can fan. I can never enjoy this no matter how important the album is to the genre. Here are my ideas about this music.

I heard 'Paperhouse' on a 70s TV performance and the band look weirder that the music. The background was a shimmering psychedelic design that enhanced the trippiness of the vibe. The bassist and Damo the Japanese vocalist are shirtless and black hair hangs down over the face, like a shroud; the guitarist wears an open jacket and looks like The Thing from "The Addams Family", just a mass of hair; the drummer is a woolly hairy beast with a tie-dyed red T shirt; the organist is a hjppie type with beard, glasses and ponytail that is immersed in his music, pounding his keys like bongos; what a clan Can were, looking like they all fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. You know they didn't care a damn about what anyone else was doing, they were just unashamedly Can and of course garnered a huge underground cult following as a result. The music was totally, insanely original and not for the faint hearted. 'Paperhouse' is psychedelic, repetitious, mesmirising music. "You just can't get back no more!" I think Damo sings at the end over and over and the music slows to its conclusion. Great to hear English lyrics from Can too, although they burble the weirdest gobbledygook on other tracks.

'Mushroom' is short, repetitious and ends on a nice explosion.

'Oh Yeah' begins with an apocalyptic sound effect, a mushroom exploding and sizzling similar to the front cover illo that always reminded me of a face vomiting spaghetti. The backwards vocals are disconcerting but you expect that from Can; it is never easy listening. The highly experimental vibe is present throughout, the rhythm is strong, pounding bass and drums and a spacey guitar sound. The guitars sound warped and disquieting, perhaps out of tune in places. The vocals tend to sound as though from a lunatic; perhaps the mad utterings of a deranged mind. Madder than Magma!

The hypnotic drum of the ultra rhythmic 'Halleluwah' is mesmirising, and the guitar solo that attacks the rhythms is a treasure. There are effects towards the end on keyboards that shimmer and shine, and the partly nonsensical vocals eventually cease for the lengthy instrumental break to close it down. One whole side of vinyl captured this classic of repetitious hypno beats and swirling madness. Impossible to describe the effect this track has on the ears; it simply gets in to the head and you are hooked. The vocals return at the end in high falsetto echoed by high pitch guitar. The vocals eventually become pure jibberish as if words are useless ("annananananananonnnonannananannawall") but it somehow makes sense in tune to the musical metrical patterns. Its all psychedelic mumbo jumbo and probably is best heard on acid, but i was never into that scene. I can still appreciate this track. Best thing on the whole album and worth listening to as a prime example of Can's best work. It features on Can compilations such as "Anthology" and the "Cannibalism" albums, albeit in a 6 minute edit which destroys the overall vibe of the hallucinatory rhythms.

'Augm'. Indescribable. So I won't bother. You will know what I mean if you hear this wacked out mantra. Words can't do it justice. And it takes up an entire side of vinyl. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggg gggggggggggggggmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm".

'Peking O'. A bizarre organ and clattering guitar and echoed estranged voices; that's just the beginning. Not too bad and very different to other music I have heard, a little disturbing and spaced out but I don't mind that. I am familiar with psych prog and this is similar. The experimental nature of the music is compelling and acid heads would love this. The screaming vocals are annoying but thankfully its not all the way through. The shimmering weirdness ceases and a rumba beat locks in with bent guitar sounds, and almost Chinese soundalike effects are heard. The piano runs are interesting and almost manic. The eccentric vocals become nonsense, whispering gobbledygook. I love how the time signature changes dramatically. The oddball vocals are harsher in this section it sounds as if he is saying, "this is good this is good" but I dare say that's not the case. The bizarreness goes up another level with frantic piano and improvised noise, we won't call it music at this point in the piece, as its chaotic, and there is screaming, babbling and painful tortured wails. How people took this nuttiness in its day I have no idea, but it must have scared the living suitcase out of listeners unprepared. Even if you are prepared you will either laugh yourself sick or be utterly disgusted, there's not much room for any grey areas with this type of music; actually its laugh out loud hilarious. The crazed lunacy really gets disturbing when a high pitch beam drags out and burns your eardrums, how many listeners must urgently reach for the sound volume I could not conceive of here, it is excruciating. The great dramatic drum echoes begin and rattley clanky noises resound, that are chilling; this is creepy, demented stuff, not to be played after midnight as you lie in bed staring at shadows; or on second thought.... The volume rises, the tempo quickens, it sounds like a vacuum cleaner whine, or an airplane engine, and a drum bangs incessantly, mercilessly, and a murderous voice cries out in dementia. Ferociously original, and non conventional certainly, but not one you want to return to often; too weird for its own good. These guys are out of their tree and proud of it. I won't be returning to this too often lest I go completely insane.

'Bring Me Coffee or Tea' ends the album. Slide guitar, a hypnotic melody, a one chord structure is the best way to describe its free form feel. It features some great drumming patterns, almost tribal like. So it ends without fanfare or finale. My feelings are that this was an album with a groundbreaking, pioneering new style of music, appealing to a certain target audience of the 70s. It would have socked listeners and still shocks today. "Tago Mago" is bizarre, and moving completely outside the box to produce high strangeness is one thing, but who actually enjoys this? Perhaps the challenge is to try and enjoy this although it is not designed for enjoyment but is art for art's sake; it simply exists to question, to ponder, is it music or just what is it? You have to find an audience that will accept it, and that's a whole 'nother thing altogether; Can found an underground audience and now it has value as a piece of history.

My opinion now, beyond the historical significance. Unless you are a fan of disturbing insane prog, give this a wide berth. It was interesting as a curio of early Krautrock, but that's where it begins and ends for me. This album is obviously going to garner very strong reactions and some may hate it, some may like it; I am kind of combined with a love hate relationship on this. Which is more than I can say for the detestable weird art music out there such as Bjork, or Yoko Ono. Can is nowhere near as bad but... sorry, I am just not interested in being bombarded by insane burbling and improvised twangs. Magma are as far as I am prepared to go in that regard. I will award "Tago Mago" the 1 star for its iconic Krautrock status, and 1 star for the audacity to produce it. Definitely for collectors. Believe the hype; this is beyond bizarre.

Report this review (#280334)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I've been putting off this review for quite some time now in hopes of me finally comprehending more of what I've heard. Since this has not yet occurred I might as well scribble down my thoughts and impressions in order to adjust them later on when Tago Mago finally dawns on me.

There is really point for me to go through these compositions since this is not really an album consisting of individual compositions but more as a coherent experience of sounds and music like you've never heard before. It will also be impossible to give Tago Mago a rating based on the general guidelines since, like any piece of modern art, it can't be limited to constraints of a general rating. Let me therefore tell you of my experience of this piece of music and review it completely from a subjective point of view.

Since I really have no clue how to start this let's kick things off with a short Q&A with yours truly: Is this my favorite Can album? No. Is this an album I would recommend to other people? Definitely. Does it call for active or passive listening? I'd say a mix of both since there are quite a few sections that might drive you up the wall if not experienced actively. Any tips for beginners? This album requires an open-minded listener with a lot of time and energy!

Just like a few other critically acclaimed albums, like Univers Zero's Heresie or Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, Tago Mago is a tough cookie to crack upon the first visit. Instead it might take years or even decades for this material to grow on the listener which automatically limits the audience scope of people who would willingly devote their time to appreciating these very demanding works. Although it is arguable if Tago Mago can actually be compared to the other two releases I mentioned in terms of intensional structure since most of the longer pieces can easily be labeled as freeform improvisations. But this issue becomes even more complicated when considering that some of the shorter pieces have actually been later covered by other bands.

While it's true that the first part of the record is not nearly as daring and experimental as the second part, it's still difficult to separate them from one another. The feel I get is that Can slowly expands upon the barriers that the music's format limits them to until they finally go beyond what can be labeled as music. Eventually the band finds their way back to the familiar territory on the album's final piece but, as a listener, one has to wonder what really happened throughout this 70+ minutes journey. There is really no use to dissect the specific tracks and listen to them individually since it only creates even more questions. Therefore I recommend taking out at least 2 hours of your time to experience this performance from the beginning to the end, including a half hour of complete silence to contemplate upon the matter (and 10-15 minutes to set the mood before the experience). Tago Mago is as avant-garde an album can get but even though it's been almost 40 years since the release this material sounds surprisingly fresh and out of place in the the scheme of time. For all I know this music might just be found flowing in space by our future generations and hopefully they will make more sense out of it than what I can at this moment.

**** star songs: Paperhouse (7:27) Mushroom (4:04) Oh Yeah (7:22) Halleluhwah (18:31) Aumgn (17:30) Peking O (11:36) Bring Me Coffee Or Tea (6:47)

Report this review (#281256)
Posted Monday, May 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ah, this album is one that I know so well yet don't really want to review because I know words really can't do justice to how much I love it. This was my second Krautrock album, after Amon Düül II's Phallus Dei, and though I dearly love that album now as well, this one tunneled deep into the darkest caverns of my brain upon first listen and made itself comfortable, knowing that it had finally found itself a place that it could stay for a long time. This has it all, folks - Damo's mostly indecipherable rambling, the bombastic rhythm section of Jaki and Holgar, Michael and Irmin, but mostly - Jaki and Holgar. Those two are the glue that hold the world together while listening to this album. They're the ones that really make this a hypnotic, all-encompassing experience to listen to. Everything else here is just the "icing on the cake" as it were. Amazing icing, though, and of course the album (or the band, for that matter) wouldn't be the same without the other three. This is one of the very few albums which doesn't have a single dull moment or note out of place for me. From the moment Paperhouse kicks in until the last note of Bring Me Coffee or Tea, everything just clicks wonderfully. There are two clear standouts, though - Halleluhwah and Aumgn. Those two tracks...just sort of crawl into the very center of my being while I listen to the album. They are right up there at the top of my "Desert Island" songs.

This album would be one of the contenders for that fabled position if I had to choose only one. Thankfully, I'll hopefully never have to make that decision, though. I'll take this album to the grave with me, though - I never want to be separated from the wonderful, incredible music that unfolds across this sprawling 73+ minutes. An essential album, not only for prog fans, or Krautrock fans, but for music fans. It will blow you away every time you listen to it if you're anything like me.

Report this review (#292352)
Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I will admit, my entry into "krautrock" is still fairly new. Personally, I really loved this album, but it's reviews appears to be quite mixed. Frankly, I'm not sure why. Well, actually I can see why. This is difficult music. Not in its technicality or complexity. In fact it's the opposite case! This album really has no structure to it. That is because this album was pretty much a giant improv jam, which was then taken and edited into songs. I love it. The album is really free flowing. While it may have no structure it does not feel chaotic or disjointed, it is really smooth and mellow. This album is basically a giant psychedelic rock improv jam. What's not too love?

While this may be a big improv, don't think these guys are not talented. They are, and make some really great music. Every instrument is great but what really stands out are the drums. They are brilliant! More so the drumming, as it should be, is the foundation that holds the album together, and really helps give it that free, jam feeling. His drumming is very jazzy and almost mechanic. This album is best enjoyed when sitting back and relaxing, preferably laying down with headphones, and when you just let it all soak in, the drumming can become hypnotic! This album is really a trip!

Adding to the feel are the vocals. They are chill. Sometimes they frightening outbursts. Always they fit the music perfectly. The lyrics, just like the music, are improv. Think of it like chill scat singing. His vocals are not about the message, but just another instrument, one that can he improv with along to the music. Though he does use lyrics, (opposed to scat singing) so I guess free form is a better way to put it. Sometimes they are in English, sometimes Japanese, sometimes...nothing. The icing on the cake.

OK, the first 3 songs are not too difficult. Really, they sound like...well, improv psychedelic songs. Real mellow. If you just listen it will sound like nice, but boring, elevator music. You need to really listen, by doing nothing, to hear all the little things, all the subtleties, that really make these songs great. Cool and trippy guitar solos, funky groove, awesome vocals, and of course that hypnotic drumming. Oh, lets not forget some classic space rock keyboard!

"Halleluwah" this is the highpoint of the album. Best song by miles, (and the others are still really good!). An 18 minute long jam, it can be quite minimal, (again really listen) sometimes for lengthy segments. I keep saying hypnotic drumming, but really this song is the prime example. A brilliant song. Moreso, this song is a transition. The first 3 were fairly orthodox considering. Halleluwah is more minimal and experimental. Think of it as a bridge.

Because the last 3 songs are more experimental. "Aumgn" begins strangely, but kind of cool, before delving into a very minimalist section which is kind of eerie, especially with what is basically Buddhist droning over it. This continues, alternating with what sounds like John Cage work and some free jazz drumming. Ends on a POWERFUL note!

"Peking O" mellow and beautiful. Harsh and unnerving. Random. SNES on steroids. Frantic ramblings of a lunatic. Classical music gone wrong. Free Jazz. All I can say.

"Bring Me Coffee or Tea" A much milder song. Though still, enough variation that I could list them for pages. Yet its not clustered or choppy. Always smooth. Really nice song.

Wow, that was a trip. I hate saying it again but the only way to describe this album: One big trip. Seriously, not only a mind trip, but almost a spiritual one. You will hear a little bit of everything. A little flavor from all over the world can be sampled. A real experimental album, but not in the over the top, avant garde way (though it can be). A super smooth, chill, cool album that flows seemlessly like water. Indeed it may feel like your floating on a raft through the ocean. Not a river, but the ocean since this album is devoid of any real structure or rhythm and when you hit land who knows where you will be!

Keep an open mind and try this album. Give it a few listens, and make sure you really listen. I don't think you will disappointed. Some parts could be a bit slow/boring and I'm sure some will be turned off by its more outright experimental sections, but please try it. A truly truly unique album!


Report this review (#292933)
Posted Sunday, August 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars Can's most well known album but it is not their best and is very inconsistent. This is not the place to start with these guys; check out Future Days or Ege Bamyasi first. Having said that, this still has the band's best three songs: "Paperhouse", "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah". This is the first album with Japanese born Damo Suzuki(although he appears on most of the songs on Soundtracks). If this album was just the first four songs, I would give it 4 stars without hesitation.

"Paperhouse" begins with the beginning of "Augmn". There is about three different sections to the song. This is the result of Holger Czukay editing what was probably an hour long jam. There is some really nice piano in this song. In the middle you hear Damo whispering "You just can't give back the moon"; later on he yells the same sentence. Most of what he sings is hard to make out...I think this is partly intentional. "Mushroom" has some great drumming. "Oh Yeah" has some backwards cymbals and vocals at the beginning. Later on Damo is singing what sounds like Japanese.

"Halleluhwah" has a grove that would have made James Brown jealous. Although it is 18 1/2 minutes long, I wouldn't call this an 'epic'. It's a bit too repetitive and meanders a lot. It has some nice violin and sound effects though. Song titles from the album are mentioned in the lyrics. What was the second record of the double-album is what keeps me from giving this 4 or 5 stars. I don't mind avant-garde and experimental music. The late 60s/early 70s was a great time for musicians to stretch out and experiment. Most record companies back then allowed the artists this kind of freedom. But the results were extremely hit-or-miss.

"Augmn" has LOTS of echo. There is some creepy violin and vocals. At one point you hear a dog barking. It ends with percussion and synthesizer. Although Can were one of the first German groups to experiment with synthesizers, they use it sparingly on Tago Mago. You only really notice it on "Oh Yeah" and "Augmn". "Peking O" has some of the first use of a drum machine. At this point I can only think of a few funk/R&B artists who were using one. The song starts off with echoed vocals. Then the drum machine comes in and gets sped up during the song. I always liked the part were Damo goes: "Momma gonna, poppa gonna, momma gonna, poppa gonna". Makes me laugh. As the drum machine is at it's maximum speed, Damo yells all fast with some crazy electric piano playing. Some strange cacophony to end it.

"Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" is the last song and sounds like a breath of fresh air compared to the previous two. It has some Doors-like organ. It sounds like it could have been at home on Ege Bamyasi. The drumming of Jaki Liebezeit on this album is part funky/part jazzy. Michael Karoli's guitar playing sounds like a mix of blues, 50s rock 'n' roll and fuzzy 60s acid rock. A really good album but you need to hear the next two albums before this. Because of the repetitiveness of "Halleluhwah" and the avant madness of "Augmn" I can't recomend this to your average progger. 3 stars.

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Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is possibly most popular Can release ever and at the same time very controversially rated one. Long monotonous and very psychedelic compositions with unusual (almost African) drumming, very simplified music and freaky vocals- all that can attract of shock listener, depending on your taste.

For me one of the most interesting thing with this album is being possibly most popular album of most popular Krautrock band, it sounds as Krautrock, but very different from majority of other releases of this genre. I like some Can compositions, but in general Krautrock for me is jazz- fusion psychedelic bands as Guru Guru, with excellent musicianship. Can is better known by their minimalistic ideas, and I really respect their best works. But too often they sound for me as proto-new wave, more proto-punk and minimalist DIY avant wing of Krautrock. Their musical ideas often are more interesting then their music great.

This album, again, is not very typical for them, or even less - for all other Krautrock. I am far not sure everyone will like it, but many really will listen it with interest.

Report this review (#358336)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars I was born... And I was dead...

Much in the same vein as SaltyJon's review, I don't know how to explain why I love this album. Heck, I can't even explain why I couldn't hardly get through first listen yet second listen it clicked with me in a strange way.

I suppose it's the purely hypnotic nature of the album that I love.Can knows how to lock yourself in your own subconscious it seems to me. The playing is magical, the guys hit the right tone in every second of the album and Damo Suzuki's voice is adds another layer to the dense sound the album has.

Didn't like it the first time? Give it another spin, you'll be hypnotized!

4 stars, possible five star canidate, will have to give more listens.

Report this review (#380517)
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sure, set the homeless Japanese man up with the German psych-ward crew - what could go wrong? Nothing. Everything went right. Tago Mago was born.

Then it was dead.

This album consists of funky psychedelic madness that only altered-minds could've created. This album starts you off normal enough with the first couple three tracks, which are fairly straight forward funky psychedelic jams with what came to be known as Damo Suzuki's trademark I-don't-really-know-what-I'm-doing vocals. But then you get the three epic tracks of the album, all of them long psychedelic jams that twist and turn with uncontrolled brain-drilling noises from other planet.

But this is my actually my least favorite album of Can's classic era, which only consisted of this and the next two albums. I don't care much for the seemingly endless noises, which is what the three epic tracks mainly consist of, the best example being "Aumgn" which just sounds like a jungle or electric barf that goes on for over 17 minutes and seems unnecessary. "Halleluhwah" starts off sounding like a track that I would love, but it drags on for about half of it's length and doesn't go anywhere. "Peking O" is another hodgepodge of electric madness that seems pointless and annoying, in my opinion. These three epic tracks really bring down the album for me.

The other tracks on the album are quite nice. They're psychedelic and krautrock sounding, definitely, but are much less noisy and pointless. Really, the remainder tracks are quite soothing. But unfortunately, the majority of this over-length album consists of lengthy pointlessness.

I admire this band, and they're definitely interesting, but the two albums after this are just much better in my opinion. This album is definitely worth checking out, and hopefully you'll have better luck with it than I did.

Report this review (#431248)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
5 stars The definitive Krautrock album.

The review can be stopped there, as it is the perfect statement about this album. Tago Mago shows every facet of this Krautrock. Jammy, psychedelic, avant-garde, rocky, floating, anarchist, rambling, soothing, repetitive, drugged out...any adjective you can use to describe Krautrock can be applied in some way to Tago Mago. Naturally, something like this can alienate listeners. Those who prefer the drugged out jams with probably be disappointed with the more out there moments. Those who prefer the crazier/avant side of Krautrock with probably be disappointed with the straighter and more repetitive moments. This can be seen by the reviews posted here that range from distain to love, with plenty in the middle. However, despite all this, if you only own one Krautrock album, this is the one.

Paperhouse And Oh Yeah represent the jam side of the Kraut, with Oh Yeah being much more floating and repetitious and Paperhouse being more driven and heavy, with a killer guitar solo from Michael Karoli. Mushroom expresses a more straight forward rock based approached, that for me acts more as an interlude between the surrounding pieces. (Of course, this straight forwardness is relative to the rest of the album.) Side two contains the infamous mammoth piece, Halleluhwah. This track is easily the worst on the album, for the simple fact that it is too long (or that the amount of action happening in the track doesn't justify it's length). The track is based around a relatively simple drum beat, that more or less continues throughout the whole piece. There is a brief interlude and change, but it is by no means enough. So, in essence you have 18 minutes of the same thing. Which, even for me, is a bit too much. This track as is would work for 5 or even 10 minutes, but unfortunately there is 8 more to go. However, after this valley, the album is pure bliss. Aumgn and Peking O represent the avant-garde side of Krautrock with all sorts of odd sounds, screams, and general madness flying about (with some excellent percussion towards the end of Aumgn). Music that definitely needs to be heard. And at the end, a wonderful soothing song of Bring Me Coffee Or Tea, stopping the crazed atmosphere of most of the album, and replacing it with some floating, spacy, and soothing sounds. It acts as the perfect ending (almost like an after dinner mint following a bizarrely diverse meal).

All in all, this is an album all prog fans should have, even if just to represent this side of the progressive rock universe. This is the perfect little Krautrock package. Sure, it would probably be silly to say that if you don't like this album you won't like any Krautrock, but if you can't find something here you enjoy it's a good bet that Krautrock isn't for you. Even though this album is flawed, it contains some truly awesome music and still deserves the full five star rating, as it is absolutely essential. Recommended.

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Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Damo Suzuki's first full studio album with CAN is also the group's most diverse and startling work. Beginning with a deceptively gentle introduction, with Suzuki's plaintive croon over a comparatively straightforward instrumental backing in Paperhouse, once you step across the threshold of the album you're in for shrieking maniac yelping in Peking O, furious funk-inspired basslines in Halleluwah, and the terrifying Aumgn, which ranges from dark ambient soundscapes to shrieking chaos. Inspired, apparently, by the life and works of self-proclaimed black magician Aleister Crowley - Tagomago being an island once visited by Crowley, and Aumgn being a magical phrase declared to be of some importance by him - Tago Mago is every bit as eccentric and dark as you'd expect such a thing to be.
Report this review (#491788)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is loads of fun. It's one of those that I like to listen to when I'm doing other things, whether it be driving, chores, homework ect... It's one of the things that I love about this album. I can multitask if I want. Not that the music is so simple that it doesn't distract me. If I decide that I want to LISTEN to this album, I will trip out. On the other hand, it makes for a good soundtrack for living life. Driving with this album on the stereo lets me focus on the road as it passes along making me feel as if I were on a track giving me more control of the vehicle. It may be an illusion, but if you want a smooth ride, pop this into the cd player or mp3 player or whatever. While im in the car, whenever Mushroom comes on, the bass on the stereo begins to sound distorted as if I had the volume all the way up. Granted, I do like to listen to my music at a very high volume in the car, but the bass never sounds as bassy as when this song come on. This is the main reason why I love this song in particular. The bass feels good, physically. Oh Yeah is the song with the most drive in the whole album. I turn the volume back up when this song comes on and I'm in the car. At this point, I am filled with the urge to speed. I imagine myself passing cars and frequently changing lanes, leaving everyone in the dust. Of course I resist the temptation. Not only is it illegal, but even if I left a group of cars in the dust, I would be bound to catch up to another group of cars driven by law-abiding citizens. Oh Yeah sounds like Jaki Liebezeit came up with a beat in the moment, but he couldn't quite figure out where else it would go, so he just kept it going. It's still a trip and a half though. Endurance, for me, is as impressive as technicality if it's done properly. Halleluhwah, has an infectious and steady beat that is repetitive, but not made for dancing, unless you're tripping on heroine(do not do). What stands out mostly about this song is the mood. Their is a sense of melancholy that provokes my mind to ponder those things that really matter in the present moment. This makes for a great song. This thought provoking element to the music is what make me love this album so much. In the absense of flare, there is all this extra room in the music where your own emotions fit. Aumge and Peking O don't count. Don't play these unless you're feeling pretentious or if you want to sleep. Too bad Bring Me Coffee or Tea had to be placed where it was. They should have put it on another album. Regardless of the nonsense of the second LP, I cannot say that this is a bad album for the first LP stands out on its own. I view the second disc as a bonus. In the end, if you need a break from the constant noodling of of all these technical progressive rock bands for awhile without losing your dignity, listen to this album. I give it five stars for you cannot have too much of the same thing in your prog collection and you have to be willing to accept the fact that that inspiration cannot be denied if the art is good. There must be a balance anyways.
Report this review (#584838)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Classic Rock Presents Prog made this album their special feature a couple of issues back (or the last issue if you live in Australia/Japan/USA). So that made me interested and I purchased this album. Something I do not regret.

There is no doubts Tago Mago is one of the most influential prog rock albums of all time.

Let me elaborate on this. Back in the 1990s, we had this Manchester rave scene with bands like Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. The latter band released their highly influential Step On single in 1990. A song that is such a blatant Can and Tago Mago rip off that I am very surprised they got away with it. It is called theft, btw. The whole rave culture went on a plundering raid on Tago Mago and ran away with everything. Not to mention dubstep and various other music styles coming out of rave and the Manchester scene.

That is why this album is one of the most influential prog rock albums of all time.

Music wise, this album is based on primitive beats and rhythm structures. From these beats, the music expands with vocals and some electronica aka early 1970s elements. That is all there is to it really. But Can really hits the jackpot with Tago Mago because of the hypnotic music here and the songs they unleash from the base of the tree trunk.

I find this album hypnotic and great. I am probably under the spell of Tago Mago. Sometimes, primitive is great and this album is indeed a great album. A couple of barn stormers is missing, but this album still deserve it's status. I would urge everyone to at least check out Tago Mago.

4 stars

Report this review (#597388)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#640114)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tago Mago by the iconic german band Can is one of the most divided albums in the history of progarchives. Some think it is a masterpiece, while others hate it because it is one of the most mysterious, dark, repetitive and cacophonic albums of all time. Me. I think it is a great album. It is surely a demanding listen but it's not for everyone. If you like free music, funk grooves, horror movie soundtracks and world music, this album is for you. But if you only listen to mainstream music with a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge structure, you will hate this album. This Can album is for very open-minded people who already experienced the free structures of krautrock songs. With the grooviest drummer in the world (Jaki Liebezeit), a cacophonic keyboardist (Irmin Schmidt), a bass player who is also an electronic master and a good engineer (Holger Czukay), a guitarist with eastern jazz influences (Michael Karoli) and the master of free lyricsism and free singing (Damo Suzuki), this band sounds like no other still to this day. But if you want to start with Can, you have to start with their most mainstream album and grooviest album that is probably my favorite in my opinion: Ege Bamyasi. Because some songs like AAAUUUMMMGGGNNN and Peking O (hjdifehfhdcbhudshcurfdhvnf opuyrewiijmnuvoioiocamdfhjfnbhbu (that is very free lyricsism)) are very free in structure and are very haunting and cacophonic. But Some songs like Paperhouse, Halleluwah (THAT groove) and Bring Me Coffee or Tea still have something for the normal person.
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Posted Friday, March 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars To begin with: I think that Can are one of the finest experimental bands in the history of rock music, period! No other band came even close to what they were doing. I got turned onto Can back in 1984, by a friend of mine (who owned a nice little record shop in Redmond, Wa. it's no longer there.) He played "Monster Movie" for me, while we were driving to pick up another friend. I was so blown away by what I heard. It sounded like nothing that I had ever heard before. I mean I liked Yes, Genesis, E.L.P. and so on, but this was different. Even more different than Tangerine Dream to these ears. Another great German band, that needs to be heard by a much larger audience. Then I heard "Tago Mago" ! Man, what a revalation that was, and to be honest in my humble opinion side one was the best. "Paperhouse/Mushrom?Oh Yeah!" The way the three tracks flow into each other was very cool. Granted all the tracks are excellent, but those first three tracks stand-out for me. Even the cover art gives you the sense that you are in for a musical journey like no other. Irmin S. organ work is just stunning, and Jaki L. drumming is out-of-this-world; it just blazes along like a train out-of-control. Michael K. guitar work is outstanding; I like his work on a lot of differnt tracks on every album he played on. And Holger C. bass work is just hypotic; it just pulsed along like a stellar quasar a 100 lightyears from here. For those who've never had the chance to hear this album; they should it's a masterpiece in the realms of prog/experimental music.
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Posted Sunday, April 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's interesting to realize how I (re-)reacted to this album.

Somewhere end of the nineties - through an Italian music afficionado I shortly e-mailed with - I came into contact with bands as Can, Amon Düül II and Faust. They were a revelation to me, after slightly earlier having become impressible to the more complex and out of the box kinds of music through listening (and accepting!) Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band.

I did enjoy Can a lot, but somehow got really and completely addicted to Amon Düül II that I played until I could dream it, resulting in more or less forsaking other music, including then of course Can.

It took me a couple of years to get rid of my addiction to the Düül and to spend time on listening to other interesting music. I - to my happy surprise - discovered RPI beyond PFM, a true rich world of fantastic music, but I also took some time to return in my own footsteps to "rediscover" the neglected music I liked some time ago.

So, I just now listened to Can's Tago Mago. I remembered Oh Yeah and Halleluwah of course, tracks I liked back then and still do. While listening to the tracks I was reading the reviews. Someone already noticed this is either a 1 to 2 or 4 to 5 star album, it either hits you, or it hits you (Good or bad that is :)). Apparently Aumgn and Peking O were responsible mostly for the 1 to 2 star ratings; a lot of people dislike these tracks, while other people that rated higher did like them but thought these tracks were "difficult". So, while listening to the first part of the album and getting on my way to Aumgn and Peking O I started getting a little afraid of having to wade through two quite long extending pieces of difficult or bad sounding music. I couldn't remember what these songs were musically about anymore, but I did remember that back then they hadn't been my most favourite songs.

But much to my surprise I had worried for nothing; I did LIKE Aumgn. And then Peking O - having been painted off as even more difficult - well, I even liked it better!

More or less this means that my musical taste is (has become in fact) different than that of most reviewers here, while a couple of years ago I probably would have thought the same about the two "difficult" songs. Beefheart taught me to open up my mind to different sounding music (and the enormous rich musical world that lied behind), this what now happened with Tago Mago more or less tells me that "training" makes you recognize the "value" of these "difficult" songs a lot faster than initially, if at all. So, I do understand those reviewers having diffuculties with this album, but I also think it takes a musically more matured mind to fully comprehend it. And that's much more an observation than a recommendation.

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Posted Saturday, March 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the defining albums of the Krautrock scene. Tago Mago is unique, psychedelic, funky, and wildly experimental. It is one of Can's best releases. This album is actually 4 1/2 stars for me, the reason it's a 5 is because you can't give half star ratings on this site. Also, I don't think the album is as consistently good as Future Days - my favourite record by Can.

At the start, we have "Paperhouse", with it's mellow guitar chords and steady drumming. The vocalist here, Damo Suzuki, is less of a lead singer and more like an improvisational speaker. "Mushroom" showcases more excellent percussion by Jaki Liebezeit, and pairs it with a droning guitar. "Oh Yeah" starts off with an explosion and features some backwards vocals and a small part of Damo singing in Japanese, instead of English.

One of the greatest songs by Can, "Halleluhwah" is an 18 minute funk jam with many overdubs. The rhythm remains constant throughout, which may seem like a downside since it does get repetitive, but it doesn't really bother me because it is hypnotic. There is a lot of experimentation with keyboards, guitar, and strings, while Damo continues chanting. Apparently the piece was edited together by bassist Holger Czukay from an hour long session that the band had recorded. Lots of songs by the band were created this way.

"Aumgn" sounds like early Dark Ambient and Industrial music. At about 12 minutes in, there is tribal drumming and screams, with an eerie synthesizer and lots of noises added in, which continues until the end. The truth is, this track is much scarier than many horror movies. "Aumgn" is very spooky and definitely ahead of its time. "Peking O" is the weirdest song here, and seems to not have any structure. If the last song was difficult, then this is even more so. Damo continues rambling incoherently while what sounds like an early drum machine adds percussion. Closing the album, is the track "Bring Me Coffee or Tea", which returns to the instrumentation of the album's first half, and is a very eastern-influenced track. A fitting end to the LP.

This is one record that requires time to grow on you. If you have an open mind and stick with it, you just might be pleasantly surprised.

Report this review (#1325564)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars You would think that after seventy-three reviews and counting as of the time of writing, there wouldn't be much more for me to say about the first of Can's magnum trilogy. People mentioning the high and hypnotic kick drums of Jaki Liebizeit, Damo Suzuki's madcap vocal stylings, and the perfected psychedelic guitar riffs, solos, and noodlings of Michael Karoli. The album's general experimentation, strangeness, and yet out and out quality, unexplainable as it is for some. And then those who warn that the unadventurous and symph purists out there need not apply. However, there is some more to say:

"Tago Mago" is a concept album. There is a method to Damo's madness. The concept? Nuclear armageddon. Starting off with "Paperhouse", we get one of the best ever pieces of standard psychkraut, which as it happens is the world before midnight. This is also a musical launching pad, as familiar as your home neighbourhood. After seven minutes of hippie life, the music suddenly slows, the kick drums enter... "Mushroom", the day of reckoning. Damo describes the "mushroom head" and the horrors it wrought the only we he can, simply and emotionally. The track ends with with one of the weapons hitting, and then black, fallout stained rain falls to welcome "Oh Yeah". The band's way of depicting the post- apocalyptic wasteland is to just follow a man - Damo - going mad from the horrors, chaos, and loneliness. With "Oh Yeah", Damo can only react with gibberish of various shades - English, Japanese, forwards, backwards. By the time of "Aumgn" and "Peking O", Damo has gone completely mad, and his thoughts turn to dark places truly reflective of the burnt wastes. His madness, though, eventually leads him to just retreat into his mind, and take a seat at the Mad Hatter's tea party or somesuch - "Bring Me Coffee or Tea", a repreivingly beautiful and calm end for us as well.

Some of this album's influences have been stated here before: post-punk's debt to Can is well known and documented, and Russellk has mentioned how The Orb and other of the more experimental and progressive groups of EDM's '90's heyday namecheck these krautrockers as well. Probably the most sweeping influence that this record specifically has wrought, however, is in essentially founding industrial music via "Aumgn" and "Peking O". White Noise, Kluster, and Suicide are fellow pioneers of a style they had no idea they were actually minting, but, as evidenced by John Lydon naming Can the supreme influence for Public Image Ltd., it is clear what the cornerstone of the genre is. This connection is the reason why the conclusion that industrial is a twisted descendant of psychedelia is as correct as the more general conclusion that industrial is essentially just the breakaway dark side of electronica. As well, Can hangs majorly over most pronk bands, mainly This Heat and Cardiacs, with particularly strong connections to the former, by way of This Heat cutting "Deceit", their own concept album about the bomb.

But most importantly, "Tago Mago" is simply a masterpiece. Can just broke so many barriers here in all the best ways, and for it are krautrock's most named, loved, and influential band. The playing - especially Liebizeit's drums and Damo's vocals - are top notch. This is one of krautrock's quintessential albums due to its wide range of experimentation and unique quality, though as such it is not in any way by the books as far as the genre is concerned - those who got turned off the genre due to this record shouldn't be so disheartened. But for the adventurous among us, this is a required listen, and a pinnacle of all experimental and art music, and all prog.

Report this review (#1356168)
Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1702484)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Review Permalink
2 stars Man... this album was really a dissapointment for me when I decide to give it a try. I dig into prog and really like the songs I already heard from CAN, Vitamin C, I'm so Green and Mushroom are really likely for me, the sick percussions and basslines, hypnotic vocals were really getting into me, but Paperhouse was my jam with the trippy guitar added to all mention afterwards and a really solid structure of the song making even the "random" beeps and boops not just listenable but yet really enjoyable; it was this song and constant recommendation of this album at the internet that made me give it a listen; the first part of the album was great for me, it had the trippy and hypnotic sound I liked from Paperhouse and the recurrent electronic madness in the songs seemed to fit in good in the tracks, but them it came Halleluwah, it was too long for his own good and it was at this point were the electronic pieces started to feel more like fillers than like complements for the songs, but the song was still tolerable, not enjoyable; then Aumgn hit in and it was when all went downhill, it was a 17 minutes song which was like 90% random electronic, when I realize that it was gonna be the entire song pure electronic randomness in repetition for 17 minutes it really turn me down, then it came Peking O and it was more random beeps and boops but louder, the last song was actually ok returning to the sound from the first songs, but the damage made by the long exposition to the nonsensecical beep sounds was already done, and making worse was the fact that the band just stuck in on purpose all that on like 40 minutes and thought it was a good idea it ends up being more of a dissapointment of what could had be a great album; Krautrock isn't a genre for everyone.
Report this review (#1871607)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2018 | Review Permalink

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