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Can Flow Motion album cover
3.00 | 141 ratings | 13 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Want More (3:29)
2. Cascade Waltz (5:35)
3. Laugh Until You Cry (6:43)
4. ...And More (2:43)
5. Babylonian Pearl (3:29)
6. Smoke EFS No. 59 (5:15)
7. Flow Motion (10:23)

Total Time 37:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Karoli / guitar, slide guitar & violin (2), baglama (3), noises (6), lead (2,3) & backing (1,4,7) vocals
- Irmin Schmidt / keyboards, Alpha 77 custom-built synth, lead (5) & backing (1,4) vocals
- Holger Czukay / bass, djin (6), backing vocals (1,4,6)
- Jaki Liebezeit / drums, percussion, backing vocals (1,4)

- Peter Gilmour / lead vocals (1,4)
- René Tinner / lead vocals (1,4)

Releases information

Artwork: Michael Karoli (photo)

LP Harvest ‎- 1C 062-31 837 (1976, Germany)

CD Mute ‎- 9 61074-2 (1991, US)
CD Spoon Records - spoon CD 26 (1993, Germany)
SACD Spoon Records - SPOONSA26 (2006, Europe) Remastered by Andreas Torkler

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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CAN Flow Motion ratings distribution

(141 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (30%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CAN Flow Motion reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by corbet
3 stars Landed, the album before this one, contains some of CAN's best work ("Vernal Equinox" and "Unfinished", to name a few). So when people tell you that CAN fell off their creative horse after Soon Over Babaluma, don't believe them -- that, in fact, began to happen on THIS album, sadly enough. Despite the popular notion that it was the introduction of true multi-track recording that destroyed their muse (albums before Landed were recorded on two 2-track machines), I think it has a lot more to do with the band's yearning for even a dribble of commercial recognition. What were they thinking? CAN couldn't write a "normal" pop tune if their lives depended on it. That said, this album is still enjoyable, and is a shining masterpiece compared to what would rear its head later (oh god...). Anyway, the first obvious thing that hits you is the virtual disappearance of one of the greatest drummers ever, Jaki Liebezeit. He's still here, by the way, he just plays as if he got hit over the head with a big bag of bricks and woke up to find himself a lazy, run-of-the-mill disco drummer. His drumming was always the skeletal core of CAN's music, so now that he's in "dumb mode," 80% of the magic is gone missing. Still, the music they pull off here (mostly their misguided attempts at "disco rock" and "reggae pop") is far from offensive: Michael Karoli is still in his prime on guitar, and I like a lot of the washy keyboard sounds. And, the 10 minute title track which concludes the album is actually perfect in spite of the sparse drums: it is a big, spacious groover -- like Jimi Hendrix on a rainy day -- with masterful guitar soloing and big swipes of colorful keyboard which add up to some truly sublime music. If the whole album were in the vein of "Flow Motion," it would be one of my favorites, no problem. Overall, established fans craving more CAN goodness will probably find something to like here, but the band's golden era is clearly behind them.
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For me this album is the best from the post "Landed" era. Globally, "Flow motion" is less experimental & noisy than the previous ones. The mood tend to be more melodic with a stress on rythmical sections which reveals cool funky & reggae influences. But be careful this one is a more mainstream work.
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars CAN was always a hard group to pin down, in part because they made a career out of re-inventing themselves from album to album (and just as often from track to track). But at its lowest common denominator their music tended to fall into alternating dark and light phases, and this 1976 effort was one of the band's brightest: 38 minutes of pure musical sunshine.

It's easily the best and most varied of their later, Virgin-era recordings. And while the music is a long way from the brainwave grooves and iconoclastic Krautrock energy of albums like "Tago Mago" and "Ege Banyasi", it still hails from roughly the same cultural neighborhood, with a similar mix of eclectic influences, as always the only constant in the kaleidoscopic CAN soundstage.

Call it Krautpop if you want, and then watch fans of their earlier, harder-edged masterpieces turn purple after hearing the ersatz disco beat of "I Want More", the album opener here, and an obvious (some would say almost heretical) bid for a wider slice of the Top-40 pie. (The same sessions furnished an even more unlikely follow-up single: an up-tempo, dance floor cover of, believe it or not, the old Yuletide carol "Silent Night".)

All right, so this particular re-invention won't rattle your headphones like "Tago Mago". And a few of the songs are so routine (for this quartet of innovators, anyway) that it's hard to recall them in any detail five minutes later. I've been listening to the album for years, and still can't remember the melody of "Babylonian Pearl".

But even so far removed from the controlled chaos of their Krautrock roots, CAN was still capable of the unexpected gesture, like Irmin Schmidt's sudden squelches of noise during the otherwise unremarkable pastiche of "Cascade Waltz". Or the urgent industrial/tribal percussion of "Smoke", a throwback to an older, more dangerous incarnation of the band, and the latest in their ingoing "Ethnological Forgery Series" of sonic experiments: E.F.S. No. 59, to be precise, but the first to be featured outside the raw basement tapes of the "Unlimited Edition" album, released at around the same time.

Every CAN recording has it's own unique signature sound, and here it belongs to guitarist Michael Karoli. On the aforementioned "Smoke" he's credited with "background noise", but elsewhere on the album the sheer diversity of his talent is front and center in the mix, ranging from the fuzzy staccato of "I Want More" (a full decade before The Smiths borrowed the same technique for their popular "How Soon is Now?") to his trademark bagpipe-like sustains, and even including an enthusiastically strummed baglama (a miniature, three-string bouzouki) on the mock-reggae vamp "Laugh Till You Cry, Live Till You Die".

He even provided the cover photo, admittedly not the best album artwork in the CAN discography, but another small reminder of how completely self-reliant this group was, in both music making and packaging.

And then there's the 10+ minute title track: a long, hypnotic jam over a slow but urgent three-note ganja bass riff by Holger Czukay, always a sucker for that dubby rastakraut sound. Karoli offers something close to a guitar clinic here, with thrilling sheets of processed noise giving way to the sort of relaxed fretwork familiar to any Deadhead, and finally indulging in some crunchy Superfly wah-wah pedal abuse.

It's a cool ending to an otherwise warm and engaging album. Doctrinaire Krautrock heads might turn their nose up at it, but CAN, as always, has the perfect riposte, sung (of course) by Michael Karoli in the song "Laugh Till You Cry" and pretty much summing up the entire album:

There's method to my madness...

Maybe you don't see it,

But if I want to be a fool

Why don't you let me be it?

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars True - this album is a far cry from CAN's trademark experimental albums, but in a twisted way it is very attractive listen. Only "...And More" and "Babylonian Pearl" are clear throwaways - the rest is still interesting music, which although a bit closer to "conventional" rock (or even pop) songs still retains quality. If nothing, this album features a genuine multi-instrumental talent of Michael Karoli who shines brightly, be it with electric guitar solos and processed effects or with violin and Turkish baglama strings. He also shares lead vocals with Schmidt. Disco-like beat of CAN's ever only hit single "I Want More" is a catchy pop tune a la NEW ORDER of the 1980s (another reviewer cleverly pointed out at the opening guitar riff as a precursor to THE SMITHS' "How Soon Is Now" of 1984!), while strong reggae influences hold up to "Cascade Waltz", "Laugh Till You Cry" and the hypnotic title track (with some unearthly Karoli's guitar playing). This album is very interesting to explore, although it is far from being essential or important in the band's catalogue. 3,5 stars actually!
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Okay everyone, stay behind the line. Nothing to hear, see?

Can appears to be completely out of ideas on this one, and resorsts to creating an album of simple, uninteresting pop songs. Okay, not totally uninteresting, there are some fair guitar solos from time to time, and a couple of songs are broken up by some Can-like sound effects, but generally uninteresting.

What you get here is some proto-disco, reggae, one surf waltz tune, a little electronica, and all completely forgettable. What's missing are the great rhythms and playful explorations of the earlier Can albums. I don't know if they were going for radio airplay and accessabilty or what, but this album misses the mark.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Flow Motion is an uneven but good Can album. It continued the softer sound of Landed and showed some experimentalism into funkier and world music territories.

The opening I Want More is a fun pop song, very similar to what Kraftwerk would be doing soon after. Of course Can uses acoustic drums and a great delayed guitar effect, but the feel is very similar to Kraftwerk and the 80's synth pop that it spawned. Cascade Waltz is - you can guess it ? a waltz, nothing remarkable but nevertheless good. Laugh Till is a reggae song and together with Babylon Pearl it's the weakest track on the album. Not because it's reggae but simply because both are really uninspired song. Smoke is essential though. 6 years before Peter Gabriel would write Rhythm of the Heat, Can already did an instrumental version of it. Call it very dark world music. There's really no end to the imaginative power of this band. The closing Flow Motion is an extended spacey guitar solo on a hypnotizing reggae rhythm. Chill man!

With 28 minutes of enjoyable music of which 20 minutes are excellent, 3 stars are deserved.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Kraut-reggae by Can? Unusual turn, I can say.

Possibly, to change the direction wasn't a bad idea, the year was 1976, and new generation with their own music was coming. Reggae, ska and Funk all aren't bad ideas themselves whenever their smell was all around on the streets. But - the recipe of this brew is under the question.

Can took unusual (for their previous kraut-rock) components, but unhappily main accent was made on their relaxed/pop side, not on psyche or punkish. As a result "Flow Motion" is quite sunny and funny album, with almost danceable rhythms. Not boring ( and quite successful commercially), but not too much inspired.

Album's music is pleasant listening, possibly without strong classic Can signature. And I believe many Can fans will research such their move with some interest. But - far not on the level of their earlier classic albums. Beginning of the end?

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars Honestly, a lightweight, dance-pop-oriented album like this is probably the best that could have been hoped for from the band at this point. The band isn't on the cutting edge at all anymore, the rhythm section is MIGHTY no more (though it still sounds okay, doing what it needs to for these grooves), and there are no brilliant pop hooks waiting around to aid the band's move in a poppier direction. You know what, though? It may aim relatively low by Classic Can standards, but it mostly manages to bullseye those lowered expectations, and at the least it has no misguided efforts on the level of "Unfinished" (or, to a less severe extent, "Chain Reaction").

Seven tracks, not a total duffer among them. There are a lot of reggae influences on here, especially in the closing ten-minute title track and in the wonderful (and wonderfully titled) "Laugh Till You Cry, Live Till You Die." "I Want More" (and it's reprise, "... And More") makes good use of the Bo Diddley beat and crosses it with an amusing little synth puttering, creating a song that actually got Can a top-30 single. There's more pop, some atmosphere, and just a whole lot of relatively simplistic song rhythms with Karoli and Schmidt performing a bunch of moderately amusing parlor tricks. That's not an insult, so you know; the songs on this album hardly add much of historical significance to the Can legacy, but it definitely works as cheerful background for my commute, and that works for me.

In short, this isn't an album that can receive a long review, but that's more a function of being samey and not extremely memorable in terms of individual songs. It works just fine as an album, and could have been an effective swan-song had the band not gotten greedy and thought it could pull off a more "serious" approach again ...

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Flow Motion" is the 8th full-length studio album by German krautrock act Can. The album was released through Harvest/Virgin Records in October 1976. The opening track "I Want More" was released as a single and became a hit in the UK.

The music on the album is the unmistakable the sound of Can. Repetitive rhythm figures and melodies and a jamming and generally adventurous approach to playing music. Itīs mostly instrumental but several of the tracks feature minimalistic vocal lines delivered in a sedated sounding vocal style. While the basis in the music is the same as when the band started out, the bandīs music has become more accessible over the years and that trend continues on "Flow Motion". Tracks like "I Want More" and "Babylonian Pearl" both feature mainstream "hit" potential to my ears and are among the bandīs most simple and accessible material. That doesnīt mean that "Flow Motion" isnīt an experimental rock album though. The band have opted to include quite a few musical influences in the music in their never ending quest for trying out new things. This time around off beat reggae rhythms are a dominant part of the albumīs sound. When they mix that influence with a country music type violin on "Laugh Until You Cry", thatīs when things really take off into space.

The album features a pleasant sounding organic sound production that suits the music well, and paired with the excellent musicianship, and the at times interesting songwriting, "Flow Motion" is a relatively good quality release. Itīs not an album that blows my socks off, but itīs an enjoyable listening experience and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Review #133! Crazy, wacky, intense, yet chill, delicious, nutritious, malicious reggae rock. But it is Can, so it is brought to the threshold and pushed past it. When you think a ten minute guitar solo (the title track) is at its peak, it goes further, up and beyond. This album is magic ... (read more)

Report this review (#2949211) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Sunday, September 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars FLOW MOTION! Second great fall of quality in CAN discography. First would be LANDED, IMHO. This album is second in one more category: The WORST CAN ALBUM. Gold medal for RITE TIME in that category. As of sound, it's pretty modern and empty. I can compare this album with late CAN albums and w ... (read more)

Report this review (#281528) | Posted by alionida | Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars CAN made it onto Top of the Pops with "I want more". I still remember the shock of it! But I really do want less of that track, much less. And much of the rest of the album is of passing iterest only. Yes folks, this is where the wheels came off the wagon. ... (read more)

Report this review (#35303) | Posted by | Sunday, June 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is 4 star must have in any krautrock collection.Standout tracks Flow Motion and Laugh till you cry - live till you die, are two of the best Can tracks ever, for sheer groove appeal they're amongst the krautrock greats with funky bass, sparce jazzy rhythms, spacey keyboards and wond ... (read more)

Report this review (#23298) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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