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Can - Future Days CD (album) cover





4.11 | 591 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars CAN continued its influential streak of influential recordings all throughout the early 70s as Germany's Krautrock scene splintered into myriad directions. CAN itself had crafted several albums each with distinct musical personalities but all rooted in a trimmed down version of progressive rock that focused on tight musical interplay, funk driven grooves and psychedelic, even hypnotic musical motifs. While "Tago Mago" caught the world's attention for its extreme unorthodoxies that took music based on the rock paradigm to include some of the world's furtherest out head trips, the band steered their sound to a more accessible percussive driven ambient flow on the following "Ege Bamyasi" which focused on the pulsating dynamics of the motorik deliveries of Jaki Liebezeit along with the spidery guitar playing of Michael Karoli, the alienating atmospheric keyboard playing of Irmin Schmidt and the extraordinary space funk bass grooves of Holger Czukay.

On the band's fifth album FUTURE DAYS, the band continued in the trajectory of "Ege Bamyasi" and focused even more on the ambient elements fluttering around the exotic busy percussive grooves that allow the instruments dance around while each musician creates a completely different counterpoint to the rhythmic oscillations. The change in musical direction meant a lessening role for vocalist Damo Suzuki and as a result he would depart the band after FUTURE DAYS which would continue on as a quartet with various members picking up the occasional vocal duties that found less and less of a spotlight. Unlike "Ege Bamyasi" that focused on aspects of rock music, FUTURE DAYS is a calmer effort that creates four tracks that evoke more atmospheric constructs even though the percussion remains as energetic as ever. The keyboards for example embody a floaty feel while the guitars create a form of space rock that eschews traditional 70s rock bombast.

Originally FUTURE DAYS consisted of three tracks on side one of the vinyl LP; the title track, "Spray" and "Moonshake" with the second dedicated to the side long magnanimity of "Bel Air" which just shy of the 20 minute mark resulted in one of CAN's most memorable and well-crafted tunes of its entire career. The title track begins the album with an immediate airier sound than the band's previous albums. Starting out with a fascination for water sounds and a tumult of ambient sounds that engage in an eerie procession before the expected motorik drumming leads the way accompanied by an oscillating "shaker" sound and a series of cyclical loops that have proved to be inspirational for all types of musical genres of the modern age including post-rock, industrial and various other experimental musical forms. While clearly rooted in the Krautrock scene, CAN stood out even amongst its peers in that its deconstructive approach was much more radical than any other act of the entire era.

"Spray" perhaps displays Czukay's importance as a bassist more than most tracks as his uncanny fretwork finds the bass implementing as important roles in the musical flow as the percussive drive. Also notable are Schmidt's amazing organ runs on this one with the guitar taking a lesser role. Perhaps the busiest sounding track on the album, the incessant percussive drive and organ heft are supplemented by the space funk bass and guitar counterpart that offers only occasional heft that can be heard distinctly from the dominance of the drumming. Suzuki is demoted to merely throwing out a few vocal utterances every now and again which sound rather patronizing as the musical flow is not dependent on him at all. The ultimate case of creating a need where none is needed. No wonder he would leave as the band developed such a full sound that the vocals were actually becoming a distraction. "Moonshake" takes on the strongest motorik percussive drive of all and reminds me of "Neu!" on its 1972 debut. This is also the only track that really allows Suzuki to stand in the limelight but even on this one there are vocal-free moments that allow the bizarre antics of the guitar and keys to dominate.

The strongest track by far is the side long "Bel Air" which displays the band in full effect. Whereas the shorter tracks showcased various trends in the band's developing fascination with ambience, this closer is the one that allows the subtle differences to organically unfold and also finds each musician slowly ratcheting up the tension since there is no time limitations. It also successfully implements Suzuki's vocal style to fit in with the developing motifs and doesn't sound like his contributions are wasted. In other words, this is the most convincing band effort on this one and the last gasp of Suzuki's involvement in the band before its consistent flow of strong albums would end before the hit and miss era that followed FUTURE DAYS. "Bel Air" is divided into sections although it's connected by a thematic flow of rhythm and melodic drive however after every few minutes, the song changes up a bit and engages in a new procession of variations. All the parts are equally enthralling and are stitched together quite beautifully.

While i prefer the much more experimental "Tago Mago" to the more sedate following albums, there's no doubt that FUTURE DAYS is one of the strongest album's in the CAN discography and is a close second for its consistency and ambient charm which is more focused than its predecessor and shows CAN at a creative peak before the inconsistency of the FUTURE DAYS would be the norm. In short, FUTURE DAYS is utterly infectious with tight interlocking grooves that display one of the most unique mixes of funk, rock, psychedelia and ambient. No musician steals the limelight here and CAN exhibits the qualities of a true democratic sound performance where every member's contributions are a vital aspect of creating a greater sum of the parts. True that Suzuki's vocals have been tamped down for the majority of the album but all is redeemed on the ending "Bel Air" where his presence is fully integrated into the CAN paradigm. Only slightly weaker than "Tago Mago" in my book but overall the second great masterpiece of CAN.

4.5 rounded up

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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