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Can - Soundtracks CD (album) cover

SOUNDTRACKS

Can

 

Krautrock

3.83 | 275 ratings

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Kempokid
4 stars Generally when thinking of Can's early discography, Soundtracks is that one that is often forgotten, to the point where even Damo Suzuki himself claimed that the first real album by the band was Tago Mago, which makes some amount of sense given how this is a compliation of various tracks to be used for silm soundtracks. The album has less of a focus on the repetitive, hypnotic groove of Can's other albums and instead possesses a more psychedelic, conventional approach, although still with heavy kraturock leanings, especially on the 14 minute Mother Sky. Definitely underrated overall however, and an album that I count as a 'real' Can album, especially given the prominence of vocals in it making it not feel unlike a studio output.

Even the opening track, Deadlock shows a more rock oriented approach to songwriting, beginning with a powerful wail of a guitar, the vocals sounding more conventional in terms of melodic structure, compared to the more repetitive, rhythmic approach taken on albums such as Tago Mago and Ege Baymasi. Tango Whiskyman is frankly amazing, with Damo's vocals going beyond the usual weirdness they have and sounding straight up beautiful in parts, all around being a very subdued song, with even the louder parts maintaining an overarching sense of restraint. The drumming is also to be commended here, being wonderfully groovy and subtle, yet maintaining the rhythmic focus the band has. Don't Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone is a more freeform composition, having some form of direction, but largely sounding all over the place, with each instrument seemingly going back and forth in the mix, occasionally following some sort of pattern, other times more sticking to a general tone, with the Suzuki's voice having much more of a drawl to it. The 2 songs containing Malcolm Mooney on vocals stand as the weakest on this album, Soul Desert being honestly extremely boring, with the vocals being mixed badly, and just all around sounding obnoxious, having that extremely loose quality to them that was there in Monster Movie, but without the almost manic edge to it that made them so entertaining there. The main problem with She Brings the Rain, despite the fact that it is a much better song that all around sounds lovely, is that it feels extremely out of place, not just on this record, but by this band as a whole, although I do enjoy it enough to be able to forgive this, at least to some extent. Mother Sky is easily the best song on Soundtracks, continuing Can's trend of having their long, extended jams being by far the best parts of their discography, being incredibly hypnotic and sounding as if they could go on forever. Mother Sky is no exception to this, starting off with a 2 minute guitar solo while a repetitive bassline and drum beat dominate the song, being almost constant throughout the entire song, rarely ever changing, instead throwing me into a deeper trance. This song is one of the more varied of these imporvisational, extended jams, featuring a plethora of guitar solos, stronger focus on groove, cool, memorable, catchy vocal lines, and an ever increasing intensity and sense of urgency, especially with that bassline. As said at the start of my description for this song, I feel like it could go on for ages without it losing any enjoyment from me, it's just a krautrock masterpiece, and one of Can's better songs.

While a less focused album than the three that were to come directly after this, and having a less formed identity compared to the absolute powerhouse that was to come, I enjoy this album greatly. The more rock oriented approach Can took here led to there being some killer guitar moments strewn throughout, especially on Deadlock and Mother Sky, and also meant that you got some looser moments such as Tango Whiskyman, which is undoubtedly an absolute gem. I'd recommend listening to this album after the next 2, as this is less memorable and less cohesive, but this is still undoubtedly a must hear if you enjoy Can, or just krautrock in general.

Best songs: Deadlock, Tango Whiskyman, Mother Sky (this one especially)

Weakest songs: Soul Desert

Verdict: Another great album in the discography of one of the greatest krautrock artists of all time, with shorter songs with more of a traditional structure to them, despite still being far from that, and then the absolute masterpiece of Mother Sky. Listen to Tago Mago and Ege Baymasi before this, but don't miss listening to this album.

Kempokid | 4/5 |

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