Can Song Reviews
Delay 1968 (1981)
Read the full review:
I hate to say, the way I'm going to describe these tracks, you're probably not going to want to hear it. This album definitely isn't for everybody. The chord progressions in are very simple and so is the instrumentation. And this whole track is absolutely hypnotizing. That's one of the things Kraut-rock aimed to accomplish, and they really had an excellent grasp on how to do it. Those choppy and sloppy guitar chords lend and the drums change just enough to keep my brain hypnotized and never feel too much like the whole thing is getting stale. That certainly helps, because this track extends past eight minutes. You'd think it's very simple if you're not paying that close attention, but if you listen closely, there are so many variations here on the same idea. New instruments come in and out all the time. And those drums are always changing. The lyrics seem to consist of a drugged-up singer screaming "dying butterfly" or other variations of that. Sometimes he's whispering that under his breath... This track is very strange. But amusing, and something that would probably make the right audience rather gleeful.
This made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. It consists of a rather jazzy beat, and we hear some bicycle horns coming out of both sides of my headphones at seemingly random times. It's strange and accessible, and it intrigues me. But not thirty seconds into it, there's a stumble and the whole thing stops. Why must they tease me?
Nineteen Century Man 9/10
Here is another funny song. More of that rock music that's in left field!!! (Hey, you have to like it for that. Seriously.) The guitar is more involved here than it was in "Butterfly" and that contributes it its enjoyment. He's sloppy and sometimes even out of tune. But no matter. It's the spirit that counts. There's also a very light organ player that we hear. The singer just belts out lyrics that sounds like he made them up on the spot. (He reminds me of a Wesley Willis, except he's intentionally mental.)
They're writing real chord progressions now. The guitar is playing something that's catchy in an almost pop-rock way. Naturally, the whole thing comes off as weird. The instrumentation is weird, and it trudges along in a too-calm pace. It picks up dramatics as it moves along (as it should) so my brain gets even more engaged. But I'm not mentioning the first thing the listener is going to notice about this; the lead singer sounds like he spent too much of the previous album screaming, and now his voice is completely hoarse!
Man Named Joe 7.5/10
This sounds like it has some jazzy influences here. But the first thing that's going to strike you about it is the singing, which gets pretty annoying here to be honest. It sounds like he's doing a bad Edith Bunker impersonation. And then somebody's coming in with those bicycle horns we heard in "Pnoom." I had to take off my headphones, because I couldn't take it. I am a mere mortal!
More along the same lines as "Butterfly," except it's not quite as interesting. The drum doesn't change up as much, and I guess that's part of why it gets a littler staler. Though the guitar certainly changes its rhythm throughout. Again, they try to capture you by being hypnotizing, but this time the effort grows a little staler. The guitar is definitely a treat to listen to for people who love that art.
Little Star of Bethlehem 9/10
This is a little bit easier for my poor ears to take. The lyrics seem more complex although maybe I'm only better able to notice them a little easier, because this is less noisy. The repetitive groove played by the bass and the drums are enjoyable here even though they basically just repeat the same thing over and over again. The especially weird thing they do here is insert strange sound-effects that sound like a cross between whale noises and a full scale orchestra. This is the most pleasant track of the album, but maybe that's not what you want to hear from them!
Monster Movie (1969)
Read the full review:
Father Cannot Yell 8.5/10
The nicest thing about this is its bass-riff that it starts on. This track starts off remarkably well --- with its driving beat. Then there's an extremely drugged up and intentionally ugly but blistering electric guitar solo. That's probably the whole highlight of the album already! After that solo is through, they're playing this really strange loop that's not so enjoyable. It would be one thing if this track were infectious, but it turns out to be fairly dull and plodding --- and they don't have any good excuse for that. Mooney reduces his vocals to weird chants in the middle. In a way, this track is pretty interesting. After all, they were pushing the way for a new brand of rock music --- Kraut-rock! OK, it's ugly and not really that fun, but at least they do a good job bringing in and fading out different sounds to at least keep my senses from growing too dull. That's all I ask for.
Mary, Mary So Contrary 7.5/10
More slowly paced, and Mooney's whispy chops sings an old nursery rhyme to the band's nicely done backing music. You don't expect this to be the sort of track that would ever get stuck in your head --- well, I guess it's not that kind of music. But I'd at least like something a tad more memorable. There's a nice electric guitar performance, but it's fairly subdued --- and the group lets Mooney take over the track with this psedo-dramatic performance. (How seriously are we supposed to take someone singing nursery rhymes on top of his lungs?) It's nice that this song ends up having pretty good development --- there's a little explosion in the middle and they start up all again. I don't see why they couldn't have given this a spectacular ending, but --- I guess that wasn't in the works.
Outside My Door 8/10
This is a relatively brief track that even contains a harmonica! I can't pretend I'm enjoying this song either. There's a certain interest in their silly, disjointed loop. It's not that enjoyable, though, and it seems like they were pretty tired already. Yeah, I'm listening to the electric guitar performance, and it's nice... Then, Mooney comes in and tries to scream, except his voice is extremely hoarse. I can't say these guys know how to make weird music!! The ending has a sort of apocalyptic feel to it that I like --- that also would have been worth expanding on. But I guess they weren't up to it...
Yoo Doo Right 12/20
Every critic cites this as the big ole turd, and I can't do much else but agree. It's a 20-minute turd that doesn't do much --- and they don't prove why it even have to exists. It starts OK enough --- with a tribal beat and Mooney sings silly lyrics. There's a certain value to the primitive chord progression they're using. But they don't do much different throughout this effort, and it grows very monotonous VERY quickly. Why they couldn't have worked on developing this a bit more is a shame. Mooney's vocals are so annoying --- no wonder they would vote him out of the band pretty quickly. They insert some interesting wavy synthesizer effects, but that only goes to drive you insane. It just gets worse when they strip everything down to just Mooney's half-singing and a pone tapping sound. And then around the 15-minute mark you grow really tired of those endless drums --- Quit it!!! Geez, what an annoying song! It's the main reason why this album is so boring.
Read the full review:
The greatest aspect of this track is we hear Suzuki desperately singing a strange, bluesy song, and an electric guitar plays something that sounds detached but still connected through unscrupulous means. (Geez, that made no sense... Why do I even try?) What I do know is that this is kinduv awesome. The chord progression is interesting, and the electric guitar keeps the experience interesting. This is weird music, and Can really tapped into that crazy vibe here. Why must they do a fade-out at the end, though?
Tango Whiskyman 9/10
I suppose this isn't that unusual other than this being Can's version of a tango. Nice that Damo Suzuki sings in an utterly non-obtrusive way. He allows the musicians to keep the texture alive and interesting instead of hogging the spotlight like Mr. Mooney would sometimes do. Anyway, there's really not much to this song other than an extremely busy and repetitive drum-line. The guitarist didn't give much in terms of his guitar virtuosity, so... well... I do like the chord progression even though that's nothing too unusual ... just the regular tango thing. I like that they're being quirky. This is a normal form of music done with their own funny twist...
Deadlock (instrumental) 9/10
This is a minute and a half retread that's also great to hear. This is a tad more atmospheric and more drum heavy.
Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone 9.5/10
This reminds me a bit of Brazilian-rock heroes Os Mutantes for some reason. A little bit of bossa nova and tropicana's in here. Suzuki's voice is downed out and I can only understand a handful of lyrics he sings, but at least you can hear the textures better ... which are done remarkably well. This is a percussion heavy song. The guitars are wonderfully played, and this even features an awesome flute!
Soul Desert 7.5/10
Yeah, this is unquestionably Mr. Mooney... His annoying, whiny voice hogs the spotlight, and I end up not caring about the song. I don't think the instrumentation was done incredibly well either. They create a decent proto Talking Heads groove, but it's pretty choppy and lethargic. There's not a whole lotta life in this desert! At the same time, it's mildly interesting enough to extend its four minutes...
Mother Sky 19/20
The fifteen minute monstrosity! Wow! There's not much point in me describing every second of this song like I'm sometimes tempted to do, but it's definitely worth noting how freaking well they change textures throughout. The textures are the whole point of this song, and they alter it at least every thirty seconds. Its this quality that keeps this song fresh and addictive all throughout its running length. It's not accessible to most listeners, but it's wild and unpredictable --- that's the way I like listening to rock music! They're utter masters at this sort of thing too, and it helps that the guitarist knows exactly what to do with his wild guitar playing. This is marvelous!!
She Brings the Rain 8/10
Gee, this is a jazz song sung by Mooney who actually reveals himself to be a decent singer. It's entirely normal and everything about it is rational. I would think the guitarist would come in with a bizarre solo or something ... he only does it slightly and lightly at the end. Um... Thanks...
Tago Mago (1971)
Read the full review:
These odd synthesizer sound effects were apparently quite revolutionary! Well, why not? They sound like locusts for pete’s sake! That’s awesome!! But those sounds don’t last for long. What quickly ensues starts out as a mid-tempoed rocker that goes on for more than seven minutes. Fortunately, they’re kind enough to make it a bit of an “adventure” of sorts… changing around the textures and drum beats every once in awhile to keep the experience from getting monotonous. Suzuki’s vocal performance is notable in that he starts out sounding like he barely cares and then, in the middle of it, he whispers at us like he’s some evil spirit we encountered in the woods, or something. The guitars are fabulous! They’re going off in every which direction… chugging along playing around in whatever mood they happen to want to be in. In the beginning, they don’t care much about anything; in the middle, they’re quite insane; at the end, they’re at peace. Nicely done all around!
A creepy four-minute song that features a sort of marching set of drums and a creepy atmosphere. Suzuki spends his vocal performance mumbling most of the time, but screaming at other parts. An electric guitar wails in the background! This is a rather affecting song with an interesting atmosphere. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, obviously.
Oh Yeah A
BOMBS AWAY!!! … (Is that a sound byte of an atomic bomb, or something?) So, after that sound effect a very addictive groove pipes up as Suzuki’s out-there vocals are guaranteed to freak you out. Reverse cymbal sounds and wavy electric organ sounds contribute to this ultimate “psychedelic” experience. You might not have to be on acid to enjoy this song, either!
This starts to sounds a lot like certain brands of artsy synth-pop that would start surfacing around the late ‘70s, or it could just be my mind playing tricks on me! This is an utterly massive track that features a very involved drum line and catchy bass line. …and it lasts for more than 18 minutes! What do they do to us in the process? Freaky noises and sound-effects, man! There’s never a dull moment. Every once in while, they’ll stop the whole thing to sort of “refresh” it. It’s hardly worth my time nor yours to describe everything; I’d do a horrible job of it anyway. Listen to it for yourself, lazybones!
This 17-minute track gets a bum rap for being nothing but rotten filler music! This one consists of a bunch of weird sound effects but without the infectious rhythm that was pleasant all throughout the previous track. But I like it anyway!! I’ve sat through this thing three times now, and I just don’t grow bored with it. They could have easily shaved a couple minutes off it to make it less stretched out (especially those goofy vocal waves in the middle). All in all, this is interesting to say the least. Everyone’s bound to have a different experience when listening to a weird song like this, anyway.
Peking O. B-
This is a lesser song in my professional opinion. I was doing well enough to tolerate the eccentricities of the previous track, but they do tend to go a bit too far with this one. The beginning of it is difficult to like even a little bit. Consisting of Suzuki singing crazily to a psychedelic organ. A quirky groove pipes up around the three-minute mark to, as it might, give us something to snap our fingers to! After that, the song takes us in some wild directions --- some are better than others. This is another very adventurous song, and it’s fun in that respect. I can see why some people hate it though. This one qualifies for weird for weird’s sake status. (That bit in the middle when they speed up the tape is good for a laugh at least… wanting to give it repeated listens might not be a sane person’s idea of great fun!… not that I’m sane or anything.)
Bring Me Coffee or Tea A
Oops, they let a song that’s less than seven minutes long slip through the cracks! What an atmosphere, though! The involved instrumentals deliver an utterly intoxicating groove of sorts as Suzuki’s spaced-out vocals mumble along in their usual, unintelligible rate. This is one of the more likable ones since it has a regular drum beat and a fantastically developed texture! This is wonderful music!! Something you’ll have to experience for yourself… I can’t tell you what to feel.
Ege Bamyasi (1972)
Read the full review:
Geez, I was expecting some sort of proto-new wave funk groove with sound-bytes of suffocating cats and screaming yettis… (That teaches me for trying to review a Can album at 11 o’clock at night… though half-asleep is surely the best way to listen to these guys.) Actually, this is pretty dang lightweight compared to all that stuff from Tago Mago though you’d probably expect it to be. It’s still awesome, though. A nine-minute track with a very involved drumbeat and a squeaky violin screeching in the background. Suzuki is rambling unintelligibly, and you probably don’t give a damn what he’s saying anyway. Some random bits of sound effects pop in the mix every once in awhile and they get busier as the song progresses. They’re innovative as usual, but they’re nothing that’ll surprise you (one of the main ones must be one of those slide whistles I used to annoy my parents with when I was six). If you listen closely enough in the beginning you can hear a very tight funk guitar… And there’s a bass guitar, too. They both get more pronounced toward the end. So, what’s my opinion of “Pinch?” I wrote a lot about it, so I must like it. Quite a fun song… Tons more accessible than much of the stuff Tago Mago though not so worship-worthy I guess. It never gets dull, and that’s important for such a lengthy thing.
Sing Swan Song A
What timing I have reviewing this album just weeks after Kayne West sampled this song on his latest abomination! (OK perhaps I should stop bashing artists I’ve never listened to.) What a lovely song, though… An atmospheric beauty just inaccessible enough for art-rock nerds to feel special for liking it (hey, there’s nothing wrong with that!!) It starts out with some bubbling sound effects, and I have no idea why. The groove is utterly drugged up and addictive. That tuneless, vibrating bell sound that pops every once in awhile was the perfect touch to make this seem even weirder. I actually made a valiant effort to find out what Suzuki is singing about, but never even got a word in. Yeah… see if I ever try doing that again.
One More Night A-
There’s gotta be more proof that these guys were an important pusher of New Wave! That jerky drum beat and bass! Something in here reminds me of “She Blinded Me With Science” Yes, I love this groove!! Always thought New Romantic sounded druggy anyway, and here’s the reason why. A few interesting synthesizers keep the texture exotic… almost makes it seem bubbly in a way. Suzuki’s vocal performance consists mostly of whispering-singing, and at some points he’s sounding like an evil snake.
Vitamin C A
Here, they might sound actually somewhat accessible here, but they’ve hardly lost their edge. It’s a three-minute song with an involved drum beat, funny bass groove and (gasp) you can pretty much understand what Suzuki is actually screaming about. Not bad! In its last moments, an organ plays a followable groove and eventually drowns the whole thing out (I guess the scurvy has taken over).
And that fades into this 10-minute song… Much less accessible than any of them (mostly because it’s a loud screaming song). Perhaps closer to Monster Movie than anything, but it does seem more disciplined. Surely, this isn’t a bad song… There is a lot of raw energy here, which of course many people love. Around the four-minute mark, they quiet it down and some synthesizer that sounds like drips in a cave start to play. Then they speed up their tempo to crazy heights… sounds like an airplane taking off, actually… A collage of sound effects and Suzuki being spaced out occurs after that without the dancey drum beat. It’s not pretty, but it’s not supposed to be. There’s something great about Suzuki’s crazy screaming!
I’m So Green B+
Something Al Bore would like to hear, surely. He should adopt this as his campaign’s theme song! (Now that Can appeared on a Kayne West album, maybe the time is right that they achieved Madonna-level popularity?) Actually, the way it starts out, it seems fairly mainstream… A three minute song with a nice beat and a riff. There’s only a quiet bending guitar going off in the background you can barely hear. Halfway into it, they speed up the tempo and make it weirder…
Cool groove! Pretty weird, too, but in a way that I think you’ll like. A quiet though involved drum beat and a keyboard starts playing a weird chord. Suzuki’s vocal melody is quite heavily melodic, too! If it gets too weird, you don’t have to worry. It only lasts three minutes. The atmosphere is thick, creepy and unique… Excellent!
Future Days (1973)
Read the full review:
Future Days A
There are only four tracks to this album, and it begins with this nine-minute piece! It's a sort of trance song that's rare among the genre ... it calms me as I'm listening to it passively. (Naturally, Can were pioneers of that genre, which automatically suggests that they were the best ... and they certainly were.) But there are plenty of rewards for active listens as well. They're mellow as hell with this track and they keep the same groove going ... but there are many, many texture shifts and instrumental changes. It's a very interesting song! The first two minutes or so consist of a bunch of faint sound effects. Nothing too shocking or anything that'll demand your attention. When listening to it, I find that my mind has wandered. I only barely notice that a very light guitar groove had started up. Some very light bongo drums and a light, raspy buzz keep the rhythm. Four minutes into the song, we finally get some Damo Suzuki singing! Just as usual, I have no idea what he's saying... but that's no prob. I think the first few times I listened to this, I didn't even notice he was singing! They keep the same general mood throughout the rest of the track. It puts us in a bit of a trance. Though intelligently executed... they're always shifting textures and instruments. Occasionally, they even switch keys.
This is closer to avant-garde than the predecessor... even though they're both probably “avant-garde.” Again, it's the sort of song that you can listen to happily if you choose to not pay direct attention to it... But if you enjoy their instrumental creativity, then there's plenty here for you to grasp onto. It's an eight-minute tune and, again, it's basically an overextended groove. But it's a good one. Even though there are plenty of harmonic dissonances, it still has an overwhelming calming effect! The instrumentation is very quiet, but still very busy. The organ noodles brisk notes subtly in the background... pulsating guitars are everywhere. The percussion is mostly limited to bongos, light snare raps and quiet hi-hat hits. There are other instruments quietly giving their two-cents, but it'll take keen listeners to filter them all out! (Alas, that's why this group has their devoted fans!) It isn't until the six-minute mark when Suzuki starts his mumblings. Yes, we like his mumblings.
This is the closest thing the album has to a pop song, but that's not only because its running time is a measly three minutes. It has a catchy guitar rhythm and a jerky rhythm. Suzuki delivers another mumbly but very cool vocal performance. It's more proof that this was one of the bands that inspired new wave. (This album released four years before that movement took off.)
Bel Air A
Ah here it is. A 20-minute song. It's not a continuous groove, but a collection of different grooves. Each one interesting and producing a different feeling. Similarly to the other lengthy tracks, it's easy to lose yourself in this, and that's part of the appeal. Highly repetitive though with such an evolving texture that you never actually grow tired of listening to it. Between each groove, there's a sort of “transition state,” which usually contain sound effects ... but most of this song is just straight rock instrumentals. (That's something I wish to heaven above that other so-called “techno trance” musicians would follow!) Suzuki sings early on in this one... he has quite a nice vocal melody. If you want to know the lyrics, don't even bother. I don't think he's actually singing words. He revives another excellent vocal melody in the middle again with a completely new groove. It would hardly be beneficial to go into too much detail about this song. Nothing can be better than experiencing it for yourself, and you definitely should.
Soon Over Babaluma (1974)
Read the full review:
Dizzy Dizzy A-
Just as much of a spaced-out groove-fest as I remember the stuff from Future Days as being. They find a very light groove to play whilst making sound effects with their voices. They do start to sing lyrics eventually... They adopt the same style as Suzuki... They're whispered raps. A violin plays consistently in the background, which provides a huge part of the texture that is always evolving. Perhaps this isn't quite as impressively done as it was on Future Days, but if you're the sort of person who ate that album up, you'll find much to love here.
Come Sta, La Luna A
It's even weirder than the last one. The melody sounds like they're singing some sort of ancient pagan call to the moon... (Or that could partly be due to my imagination, trying to figure out what that song title means.) Also helping matters are those distinctly tribal rhythms! The piano comes in a few times and plays a few phenomenally bizarre things. Tago Mago fans will be glad to know that there are a few spots here where they go crazy with the sound effects. Yes, sir! This is good old CAN for ya!
There's much less here that's intrinsically weird, and this is more of a rock 'n' roll jam. It's similar to the sort of thing jazz-fusion bands liked to do ... like, the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Frank Zappa. It's a pretty good one, too, although I sort of wish I had a sense about where they were trying to take it. Usually, Can music seems so purposeful while this one just seems rather empty. I will give them credit for that violin, which frequently seems like it's on the verge of exploding!
Chain Reaction A-
Gooooooo!!!! Whoever was in charge of those rhythms, I think you're my hero. I mean, these rhythms are hard to describe. I would try calling them “tribal,” but they seem far more calculated demented. These rhythms go on constantly (with a few breaks here and there) along with an array of squeaky guitars and random sound effects that go in and out of your speakers. At one point, they start playing what sounds like a cabaret song from another dimension. It's really out-there. ... Geez, I think the question is: Are you the sort of person who can get carried away with this sheer insanity for 11 minutes? ... Oh boy... I can hardly contain myself!
Quantum Physics B+
I can't really tell if I'm entertained by this or not... On one hand, it seems way too overextended, it rambles and it's not very exciting. On the other hand, it's so spaced out that I find myself lost in it! You know, like I'm through some journey in outer space, and I'm first-hand witnessing some of its wonders. For that, this is one of those songs that'll affect you depending on who you are... Many listeners will see this as a boring assortment of noises. I understand their point of view, but other listeners might enjoy living in that “state of mind” required by this. ...On that note, they probably could have made it more exciting. The textures, for example, aren't quite as impressive as they were on Future Days.
Read the full review:
Full Moon on the Highway A
Even though Can abandoned some of their complete alien weirdness, they still seemed like they were far from hanging it up. Naturally, this is a more conventional rock song with a typical drum beat and some rhythm guitar that doesn't sound so different from ... er ... Eric Clapton. The weirdness comes in with that extremely fuzzy guitar that pops up and tries to be as ugly as possible! The singing is also heavily distorted and ugly (especially during the chorus, of sorts, it sounds a bit like some crazy Muppets are singing). It's not bad!
Half Past One B
This is something like a demented bossa nova. You can hear a little Latin influence in that opening, anyway, with the guitars. But the association ends there. Those scaling, computer synthesizers come in and do some psycho things. At least Can were still able to be psychos, even if they weren't being so revolutionary. Though this song doesn't compel me nearly as much as the previous song, for instance, and it does almost fall apart in the second half.
Hunters and Collectors A-
This one might have actually worked as a new wave song. That's a genre that, of course, Can helped pioneer in their earlier albums...... but those albums were so far-out that there was no way a new wave band ever would have actually gone there. And this is nearly a spitting image of all this new wave! This track has a very quick and bouncing rhythm, the melody is pretty catchy, and even almost even a piano riff. But it's still a completely far-out track with a number of strange sound-effects interspersed throughout to keep it always sounding fresh. It's not too terribly memorable, but it's interesting!
Vernal Equinox A
This one's a lot more hard rocking than the other one, and it's the sort of thing that can't help itself but to drive you up the wall! (In the good way, mind you... sometimes everyone needs to get driven up the wall...) The beginning of it contains probably some of the wildest guitar noodling imaginable (something that even respectable metal bands like Iron Maiden might not have been capable of). An equally notable synthesizer comes in and almost sounds equally as crazy (though somehow not quite as awesome). The textures produced in the rhythm section even seem far from conventional, which they were veering towards in the three previous songs. It's nothing like a pop song, so it's understandable why Can fans would want to call this their favorite. I like a catchy melody, but I have to say I'm with them!
Red Hot Indians B+
Wow... There's a guitar riff in here that's the exact same thing as “Disappointed” by Public Image Ltd! And what a cool riff it was. Anyway, PiL's song was better anyway. This is a massive and sort of confused jam where the band members continue to try to be weird (though not quite as weird as they used to, I guess). Those incredibly bongos serve to clutter the song up (in a good way). An alien-like saxophone comes in later to keep you on your toes. It's not terribly inspired, but it's still crazy enough to be fun. Plus, it inspired a PiL song!
These massive-length pieces of psychedelic noises was difficult enough to take on Tago Mago, but this piece is just boring. Although, it's not the worst thing I could be listening to, I guess. It's atmospheric, and would certainly make a pretty creepy addition to a Myst-clone soundtrack. (It's interesting how they predicted that sort of music, though... It's pretty much the spitting image of that ambient video game stuff.) I sort of like listening to such music, but I have to judge this music based on how good it is not listen to directly, and this isn't that great. I do like the first minute and that bit in the middle when they bring in that creepy harmonica, though...
Unlimited Edition (1976)
Read the full review:
Oh man... this is gonna be a fun album to write track reviews for. I can just feel the funness irking through my veins as I'm listening to this creepy, creepy old track that probably dates to the post-Suzuki days. It's an instrumental with nothing more than creepy synthesizers playing around like it's interpreting outer space with a sort of cosmic drum that patters around. The chord progression is very simple and repetitive... It's certainly a cool atmosphere they have going! There's no doubt about that!
Doko E B
I'm going to be so useless writing these track reviews, because I honestly can't tell if that's Suzuki or Mooney. I'm betting that's Mooney, though. This track is basically the singer mumbling along with just a very intricate drum track. The drumming is a real treat for Can fans... sort of a raw version of the incredible stuff they always did.
LH 702 A-
I guess I must respond well to jams that can be described as instruments having some sort of massive, dirty orgy. I have no idea where this came from. It's an incredibly messy instrumental track, and they jam away for a complete two minutes. I can pick up all sorts of instruments that I can't name. There's some sort of horn that's being played like a bagpipe. Violins and cellos are squeaking around. The drummer is going nuts, but still manages to give the thing backbone. ...Wild!!
I'm Too Leise B
Indescribable. If there's anything crazier than trying to listen to Can, it's trying to write about them. I'll try, though! They bring in a sort of pan flute that sounds like they were experimenting with old world music. The bongo drums have a sort of world music quality to it... and are impressively played. A very, very plain guitar riff plays while some singer mumbles away. It's like South American music that's been roughed around a bit.
Someone is pounding one note on a piano while a radio (sounds like the news) plays in the background. A very faint instrument fiddles around in the background... it sounds something like a harmonium. Even fainter, there's a bongo drum. A lot of feedback noise. That's really all there is to this.
Blue Bag (Inside Paper) B-
This one's fairly simple, but it manages to creep me out. A voice, louder than usual, sings about a blue bag, while the drums pound away a bit, and someone whistles with their teeth. I would really have liked to witness these recording sessions... just to have an idea about what was going around in their minds. Geez!
Ethnological Forgery Series No. 27 B
Moby did a song like this... his is listed in the Guinness Book of World records as the fastest song ever recorded. True, it might have been faster than this, but Moby was using technology! Jacki Leibetz's fingers probably burned up from all this friction! Anyway, this is just drumming lightly as fast as he can while there's some pseudo-Buddhist chanting lightly in the background. Really odd. For some reason, I like it.
TV Spot A-
This one's a little more elaborate than the others. This could also be described as world music that was roughed up a little bit. They probably took their inspiration from Asia this time... sounding a tad Mongolian. Then, a groove chimes up from the mix (which was always Can's biggest strength, you know). There's a really goofy duet in here... a duet like you've never heard it!! Sounds like what might be going through the minds of a schizophrenic. This is pure gold for Can fans. Paralyzingly freaky for everyone else.
Ethnological Forgery Series No. 7 B
This is probably the sanest song I've heard yet on this album. Of course, that means it's really weird. It's a sort of percussive heavy rhythm they probably borrowed from a recording of a rain forest tribe, or something. A bendy buzzing instrument goofs around while a xylophone plays seemingly random notes to create an odd sort of evolving texture.
The Empress and the Ukraine King B
A really strange old tight guitar tune that's been described as funk music flipped on its ear. Can specialized on this really alien sort of music... If I was making a sci-fi film, I would probably fit a Can covers band somewhere in there. ... Or, just think of it, in a parallel universe, these guys were probably as big as The Beatles! This thing isn't very much fun, but it's hella weird. Some impressive guitar-playing keeps it impressive.
Ethnological Forgery Series No. 10 C
Another one of their crazy old world music interpretations. These guys really were fishing for some weird groove to play! Well, I guess only the most compelling weird stuff ever made it into the albums. It's a very textured piece with regular drumming and a triangle. Someone plays a funny old horn instrument sort of randomly.
Mother Upduff B+
Lesson to ya... Don't listen to this with headphones. Luckily I wasn't doing that because I ruptured an eardrum not too long ago. But this is crazy thing has a lot of high-pitched whistling noises that pop up sort of randomly. It starts out with these horn twirls as Mooney reads a strange poem that I'm guessing that he made up on the spot. It eventually erupts into the maddest jam that they could think of (pretty, pretty mad). This is an especially cool jam they came up with ... there's a really cool electric groove they come up with at the very fade-out. Man, that would have been cool in a real song!
Ethnological Forgery Series No. 36 B
This sounds something like old jazz music that was flipped on its ear. (These guys were really good at flipping things on its ear.) It's not really that much fun to hear, but at least it's more accessible than anything The Residents would have put out. It features a rhythm that almost normal except there's some alien force affecting its sanity. A trumpet that sounds like it went on cocaine plays ... vaguely normally.
Wow, this thing is 17 minutes long! It starts out sounding like a crazy Medieval song. Have the right chord progressions for that, and some of it gives me the feeling of a cute fanfare. The groove is really bouncy, and something that Can's greatest fans I'm sure gobble up like jellybeans. The next three minutes aren't nearly as cool... just piddling around with a drum for a bit. Eh... this slowly metamorphoses into a very rapidly playing bass guitar that reminds me a little bit of Vangelis' '80s soundtracks, except weirder! After a lot of hissing noises, there's some talking that sounds a bit like studio chatter... and they even do that weird. (At one point, someone is talking in a decoder.) After that, there's a bunch of knocking noises... fluttering whistles... squeaks... old gargling men... bullfrogs... dying saxophones... constipated men... space organs... All sorts of stuff! These guys were nuts! That's the biggest compliment I could give them, I'm sure.
Do you want to know why this track never made it on a regular Can album? ...It's almost a normal song. It has a pretty severe vocal hook. Granted, this is much more choppy than a usual song, but ... geez, there's even a conventional-esque guitar solo. ...I can even understand what Mooney is singing. WOW. They're not too life-changing, but ... this is pretty cool.
Fall of Another Year A-
This is a really cool song. It also has a groove that could be construed as relatively normal, but of course there's that weirdo alien edge that they liked to insert into everything they could do. This groove reminds me a little bit of a bossa nova for some reason. A really squeaky flute comes into solo to help the singer a bit.
Ethnological Forgery Series No. 8 B
This one seems like it was an exercise in African-esque xylophones. They just come up with a funny textures to play for a minute and a half. They were just jamming away, exploring the possibilities. They must've had a nice sound studio.
Transcendental Express B
They get another strange mood going. This time, they play what sounds like a close relative to the banjo (I'm probably way off... I don't know my instruments), playing silly instruments while a very wavy synthesizer plays around. This synthesizer is sort of a pulsating chord, and whoever was in charge of it was playing around with those knobs. (I have a keyboard, and I've done similar things by playing around with the “knobs.”) Once again, they were just messing around. ...And I bet they enjoyed every single minute of it.
There's a really cool knocking noise they make at the beginning of this. I know I've heard that same effect used on a Japan album, but I can't remember what it was. They create a really strange atmosphere for this one... and then there's a somewhat conventional electric guitar noodle in the middle of it. It makes it sound like a more conventional version of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The creepiest and most effective mood pops up around the seven-minute mark. That's something that really would have been neat if they developed a bit more for one of their regular albums, but it's pretty effective here. ...What a strange piece! ... Well, I've reached the end of yet another Can album. I think I should get a T-shirt.
Flow Motion (1976)
Read the full review:
I Want More A-
It sounds so much like Talking Heads it isn’t even funny. ...Or maybe it is funny, because Talking Heads is a funny band! Whatever the case, Can has simplified their sound so much that this could very well have been a hit on radio stations (provided that it was played after midnight). It features a really tight guitar groove, some pop synthesizers, and weird chant-like singing. The groove is mildly exciting, but not incredibly memorable. I’d say it is pretty conclusive that Talking Heads improved on this sound quite a bit, but I guess we now have a better idea about where they came from...
Cascade Waltz B
This is really odd... Although, it *is* a waltz, just like the title states. The beginning of it is a strummy guitar playing pleasantly while a slide guitar plays cooly in the background. This section might not have been so out-of-place on an old Nintendo game soundtrack. After a bit, some really funny, towering synthesizers come in. And then some guy starts talk-singing lyrics about spacemen. This is weird alright, although it’s not nearly as wild as their earlier stuff. It’s also rather dull.
Laugh Till You Die, Live Till You Cry B-
Gee... Well, I want to like this song, but it goes on for six and a half minutes. This is reggae as interpreted by men who are suffocating on marijuana smoke. It’s played at a very turgid though robotic pace with some funny sound effects going off occasionally in the background. Sure, it’s weird. But not weird enough to get me riled up too much. If I was weird enough, I could think of some really creepy dances that would go well with this.
And More A-
More succinct and a lot of funk guitar? Give me much more of these!! I’m not too sure why they’re chanting in the background ... it sounds like they’re ancient Mongolians preparing for battle ... I guess they had to do that because just playing the straight funk guitar would have just been too normal. (And actually without them, I might have thought I was listening to Al Green or somebody.)
Babylonian Pearl B+
Here’s another one of those alien songs that could pass off as a regular pop song if they were a bit more normal. They give us a very nice groove, and present a few good harmonies. But a few really strange synthesizer and guitar comes in and litters everything up. And the singing is still done in that chant-style, and it’s mixed very quietly. But this song is great just for the cool, danceable groove.
Smoke (Ethnological Forgery Series No. 59) B+
They presented a bunch of these Ethnological Forgery Series tracks on our copy of Unlimited Edition, and those tracks basically consisted of the group making up their own interpretations of various bits of world music tracks. This is basically one huge driving African rhythm with some more quieter and subtler atmospheric sound effects placed in the background. There’s not really singing on it... but if you listen carefully, you hear some guy chanting a bit. (If you listen carefully, you can hear a lot of things in this, I’m sure.)
Flow Motion C+
Just like “Laugh Till You Die,” this is a reggae as interpreted by people who like marijuana too much. Unfortunately, it’s not even very entertaining. It just plods along indifferently for 10 minutes with only a half-interesting groove while someone noodles around a lot with an electric guitar. This wouldn’t have been bad at five minutes, but it goes on twice that long... So, it does grow pretty dang tiresome.
Movie Reviews | Short Stories | Message Board | Contact Me