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THE LOST TAPES

Can

Krautrock


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Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Obviously the tapes weren't really lost..." so starts the liner notes written by Irmin Schmidt. CAN were well known for their habit of recording themselves as they jammed or played tracks they had composed. 50 hours of tapes had been locked away in a climate controlled enviroment for many decades and at the insistance of Hildegard a lady who as Irmin describes "...watches over CAN and it's work like the dragon over the gold of the Nibelungen" they were brought out into the light in 2008. First they took them all in to get cleaned and then the pains-taking duty of going through all of this disorganised music began. Disorganised because in the early days they couldn't afford to go out and buy new tape all of the time so they played over top of music they didn't think was that good. So you get sections of music from different time periods.

By the way this 3 disc set is held in a 10 by 10 inch case about the same size as those that held those tape reels. The book inside is as big and full of great info and pictures. They decided once they got it somewhat organised to listen carefully to each piece of music at least 4 times to determine what was of the highest quality and what would be sent back to the vaults. One thing Irmin says that all of the band members of CAN have in common is an unsentimental ability to judge in cold blood what's good and what isn't. Nostalgic emotions were not a part of the final decision. I had heard long before I got my box-set that the music here was as good as CAN's best and I can attest that this isn't hype. These guys have chosen songs that in their opinion are worthy of being placed beside their best. So out of 50 hours of tapes we get almost 3 1/2 hours of music over 3 discs. The music isn't laid out chronologially although the one thing they did do was make the first disc up to and including song 4 of the second disc all Malcom Moody stuff, while the rest is with Damo.

I like the story in the liner notes of when Malcom joined the band for the first times in a castle outside of Colgne made available by a friend of Irmins. "Malcom arrived expecting to find an artists' studio; instead he would seize the microphone and push CAN-virtuoso players...into fiercely new areas with the sheer force of his voice". "Holger recalls his delight and shook at this powerful new element." The first piece they recorded was "Father Cannot Yell" which turned out to be completely different than what Holger thought it would be with Malcom on board. This was new music and the band knew it. Malcom became close with Jaki right away as they formed a close bond. Malcom says "The thing I liked about Jaki was that he wasn't set on any particular genre, he could accomplish things by listening to himself. He was able to carry a rhythm until it came back over itself. The band's components of Folk, Rock, Electronic, Classical and Jazz drumming, made for an interesting mix, and I had a rhythmic quality that went well with the music we did."

Okay i'll mention some highlights for me from each disc. Disc One's "Waiting For A Streetcar" is like hearing Malcom on a loop. He repeats that line a thousand times it seems as that beat is also repeated relentlessly. I love the info in the liner notes that tells us that CAN would play in the castle I mentioned earlier often at events. Anyway Malcom loved to take an actual event or person and incorporate it into the song like someone waiting for a taxi or someone named Doris and use words related to that and repeat them over and over (haha). "Dealdly Doris" must have been hot. This is catchy with vocals. Too much ! "Graublau" is a 17 minute sountrack that is just killer ! An incredible beat this one. "Bubble Rap" has that familiar raw sounding guitar from Karolli and is the only exception of Damo being on the first disc. Just an amazing jam.

Disc Two's "True Story" is so funny with Malcom basically telling a story and it's like being at a party listening to someone who is really stoned make up this hilarious story. So funny ! "Oooh to have those juices" oh man this is good. "Spoon (Live)" is a 17 minute jam with Damo. "Abra Cada Braxas" was a spontaneous creation live on stage and man this sounds fantastic with that beat and atmosphere.

Disc Three's "Godzilla Fragment" is live and quite powerful. A definite highlight for me. "On The Way To Mother Sky" is a fragment from the track "Mother Sky" and check out the organ late. "Barnacles" is a live improv that might be my favourite track on this whole set. This is jazzy at first with prominant bass, electric piano and drums. I like when the guitar comes in and grinds away. Amazing track ! "One More Saturday Night" is live with a beat, electric piano and guitar standing out early then the vocals arrive. Love this !

Well I tried to give just my top 10 tracks but I think I did eleven. Easily the best release of 2012 for me.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#815917)
Posted Thursday, September 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars A long-awaited boxset that should please Krautrock fans that are hungry for seminal early Can material. Taken from as many as 30 hours of studio and concert tapes, made mostly from jams and experiments, the group condensed and rearranged the music committed to these "lost tapes", and a resulting three CDs, each filled with just over an hour's worth of music. These tapes come from the seminal years of the band, when they were at the top of the art, basically from 68 until 77, but with a predominance from 69 to 72. Does that sound enticing? The tracks are more or less regrouped by eras, with the first disc concentrating mainly on 68-69 and with a couple 72 tracks thrown in. The second disc still reaches as early as 68, but goes as far as 74, with a majority 72 material, while the third concentrates mainly on the mid-70's..

It's not like you'll recognize instantly tracks that came from such and such classic album either. Most of it is barren enough, but the Mooney-era stuff has a few bright moments that approach the shoulder height of the music that's featured on Monster Movie, Soundtracks, but nothing of the quality of Delay 68 (originally released in 82). Clearly the better disc of this boxset in terms of album-worthy material.The Suzuki-era stuff is unfortunately not really up to par with the Tago-Bamyasi albums, though it's still quite nice, but they'd only be good bonus tracks when sized up against the original albums' music. The notable exception to that comment being the lengthy Neighbourhood Whore, where Liebezit's wind instruments are enthralling. Unfortunately much of that second disc is not meeting the same level, some of it being almost ambient mumbo. We all know that Can's music became somewhat softer around the Soon Over Babaluma and their later albums, but that's not to say that these later tapes are of more exploitable quality from what one can hear in that third disc. Actually that third disc is the weaker one of the three, as a knowledgeable Can expert would easily guess, and you find much from the Traffic (Reebop and Rosko) connection of 77-78.

Despite the dramatic cuts (something like 90%), the least we can assume from what was held back for this boxset is that the average quality of these tapes were either unusable or of no interest whatsoever. Don't get me wrong here, the unconditional Can fans will most likely find their happiness in this release; but if you're a more casual fan and you like some more musical meat to sink your teeth into, you'd better seriously investigate the contents before shelling out the dough. Some uberfans will disagree vehemently, but this set is not essential at all.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#872781)
Posted Friday, December 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I am not really a Can-fan. It is true that I have never delved deep into their secrets. I have only been scratching ever so lightly on their, as I have perceived it, rather inaccessible door. Still they have managed to keep me in their grip, always fascinating me, screaming in the back of my head. That is in itself quite a thing to give them credit for. To make things worse I have never been all that curious about so-called "lost tapes": What the hell are they? Really? Many times these "lost tapes" are nothing more than a clear-out of ones basement, packaged and sold under the presumption that the album(s) contain material of invaluable importance. In this occasion two things seem to be the case. First, the very existence of these "lost tapes" blew me off my feet, possessing my imagination and want. Secondly, everyone who knew anything seemed to be sharing the same bath-tub, all wallowing in the same lather of unashamed awe. So, what I felt, then, must be of some truth, albeit subjective in the view of objectiveness. Can was always, as is well known, a seldom seen oddity in progressive (or other) rock. They plowed their own furrow with their very own brand of musical conviction. "We'll play anything in any way we like and we don't care what you think about it", they seemed to say. Though I am not, as stated, a Can-fan of any rank, I am aware that their music, as any proud proggers would do, changed over time, becoming less free and "difficult". Their albums turned more easily accessible. When listening to their albums, Can's progression and eclectic approach to recording, isn't quite as clear as on this compilation. On this 3-disc Collection you find, as often stated, material that equals much of their regular output. As a showcase for Can's multifacetted talents it is precious and very interesting indeed, even for someone like me, only slightly acquainted with the band. You get every aspect of the bands musical adventures in the 60's and most of the 70's. Anything from soundtracks (Millionenspiel), pre-punk (Deadly Doris), sonic mayhem and free-form (Blind mirror surf), hard rock jamming (On the way to mother Sky), progressive rock (Dead pigeon suite), infective funk (Barnacles), ambient (Private nocturnal), beauty (Oscura primavera) and everything in between. I can't embrace everything but I like a lot on here and it shows their many faces in a grand way. This collection may appeal to already fans of Can but I can honestly say, being somewhat more of a casual admirer, that these discs are just as appealing for anyone interested in one of the greatest progressive bands in history. "The lost tapes" constitute a wonderful tapestry of originality and ingenuity. Art is a feeling and this is art. Whether or not you are able to appreciate all of it or bits and pieces, you can't help feeling increasingly impressed by the art created. Many a true fan would point, possibly, to "Tago mago" or some of the other classics of their discography but I feel this is as good a place to start as any. Impressive, engaging, enthralling and utterly original.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#1146980)
Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album really deserves some love. If these tapes were lost, that would be a travesty. This is one of Can's best albums if not the best. The 3 CDs are loaded with music and contain some of Can's best songs. CD 1 alone has Millionenspiel, Waiting for the Streetcar, and Graublau that are favorites of mine. I listen to this album more than others due to the raw nature of the music. It can be experimental at times, jazzy, tribal, minimalistic, and pyschadelic. It is unmistakably Can. I am not a Krautrock fanatic or collect Krautrock bands, but I do love Can's early stuff. This is more of a good thing for any level Can fan, and a must buy.

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Send comments to javajeff (BETA) | Report this review (#1214175)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Can - The Lost Tapes (2012, recordings between 1968-1976)

I've been a fan of the Can's music for years now and I love their first five records. To me Can is perhaps the only rightful heir of the Beatles, being one of the most creative groups of music history. Furthermore, drummer Jaki Liebezeit is one of my favorite musicians. Listening to this German krautrock group you can hear all kinds of things to come later; psychobeat, breakbeats, minimal music, electronic music, moviesoundtracks, hip-hop, punk, spacerock, avant-garde. The list just goes on. The creative process of Can is distinctly different from other progressive groups, with an emphasis on improvisation and a playful interplay of minimal and chaotic elements. The sound of the band has always been very organic and 'in the moment', an element lacking in most progressive music.

In 2008 the process started of recovering 50 hours of 'lost tapes', though they were neglected or forgotten about. Can had it's own studio and they recorded almost everything. Most of time tapes were re-used, only things they really liked (in a 'non-sentimental way') were kept. Out of this Irmin Schmidt (keyboards) and Jono Podmore (editor) took more then three hours of material of which the tapes would be restored, transferred and remastered. The quality of the recordings is therefore no less then that of other Can albums. The live with audience recordings differ somewhat in quality, not in intensity though.

The material covers a wide time-span, yet this new triple record (of 5lp in my case) doesn't feel disconnected at all. The first vocalist, the American Malcolm Mooney with his eccentric, punchy and intense performance style can be heard on no less then seven tracks! The equally yet different Damo Suzuki appears on eight tracks. The others are instrumental. The material is made up of different aspects of the Can; the punchy heavy rock, the wild experimentation/avant-prog side, spacey rock, some composition and of course movie soundtracks. Now I myself often don't care to much for the avant-garde or free music parts, but some of these tracks are really amazing. The organ and spoken word track 'True Story' comes to mind.

At first it was a bit strange to realize, but this new release is actually as great as Monstermovie, Tago Mago and Soundtracks combined. Especially with the vinyl edition it feel like you have five new albums of one of your favorite bands from its best era. The bookwork is also nice & informative and the box is great looking. Standout tracks are Graublau (17 minutes of inventive psychobeat space rock), Obscura Primavera (short composition), True Story (before mentioned), Dead Pigeon Suite (a perfectly original and elegant remix of Vitamin C), Abra Cada Braxis (ten minutes of more Future Days!), Godzilla Fragment, Midnight Man (progressive spacerock!) and the Malcolm Mooney tracks like Waiting for a Streetcar, Deadly Doris and Desert.

Conclusion. This is perhaps the biggest treasure ever to be unearthed from the classic progressive rock era. Highly recommended to fans who will like almost every second of. Perhaps the minor fans - who have embraced the digital era - can make a shorter compilation of their own. I'm myself going to give this the highest rating! Brilliant music, well packaged and remastered. Unique experience and it came as a total surprise.

PS I think this record should considered to be an album instead of boxset/compilation. All the material is new.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#1273566)
Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2014 | Review Permalink

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