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Rock - Released January 1, 1972 | Mute

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The follow-up to Tago Mago is only lesser in terms of being shorter; otherwise the Can collective delivers its expected musical recombination act with the usual power and ability. Liebezeit, at once minimalist and utterly funky, provides another base of key beat action for everyone to go off on -- from the buried, lengthy solos by Karoli on "Pinch" to the rhythm box/keyboard action on "Spoon." The latter song, which closes the album, is particularly fine, its sound hinting at an influence on everything from early Ultravox songs like "Hiroshima Mon Amour" to the hollower rhythms on many of Gary Numan's first efforts. Liebezeit and Czukay's groove on "One More Night," calling to mind a particularly cool nightclub at the end of the evening, shows that Stereolab didn't just take the brain-melting crunch side of Can as inspiration. The longest track, "Soup," lets the band take off on another one of its trademark lengthy rhythm explorations, though not without some tweaks to the expected sound. About four minutes in, nearly everything drops away, with Schmidt and Liebezeit doing the most prominent work; after that, it shifts into some wonderfully grating and crumbling keyboards combined with Suzuki's strange pronouncements, before ending with a series of random interjections from all the members. Playfulness abounds as much as skill: Slide whistles trade off with Suzuki on "Pinch"; squiggly keyboards end "Vitamin C"; and rollicking guitar highlights "I'm So Green." The underrated and equally intriguing sense of drift that the band brings to its recordings continues as always. "Sing Swan Song" is particularly fine, a gentle float with Schmidt's keyboards and Czukay's bass taking the fore to support Suzuki's sing-song vocal. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1971 | Mute

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
With the band in full artistic flower and Damo Suzuki's sometimes moody, sometimes frenetic speak/sing/shrieking in full effect, Can released not merely one of the best Krautrock albums of all time, but one of the best albums ever, period. Tago Mago is that rarity of the early '70s, a double album without a wasted note, ranging from sweetly gentle float to full-on monster grooves. "Paperhouse" starts things brilliantly, beginning with a low-key chime and beat, before amping up into a rumbling roll in the midsection, then calming down again before one last blast. Both "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah," the latter with Schmidt filling out the quicker pace with nicely spooky keyboards, continue the fine vibe. After that, though, come the huge highlights -- three long examples of Can at its absolute best. "Halleluwah" -- featuring the Liebezeit/Czukay rhythm section pounding out a monster trance/funk beat; Karoli's and Schmidt's always impressive fills and leads; and Suzuki's slow-building ranting above everything -- is 19 minutes of pure genius. The near-rhythmless flow of "Aumgn" is equally mind-blowing, with swaths of sound from all the members floating from speaker to speaker in an ever-evolving wash, leading up to a final jam. "Peking O" continues that same sort of feeling, but with a touch more focus, throwing in everything from Chinese-inspired melodies and jazzy piano breaks to cheap organ rhythm boxes and near babbling from Suzuki along the way. "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" wraps things up as a fine, fun little coda to a landmark record. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 16, 2017 | Mute

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German art rock innovators Can were known for creating relentlessly experimental albums boiled down from endless improvisational sessions, but they possessed a keen sensibility for writing offbeat pop songs. They released a decent amount of 45s, all of which are collected in one place for the first time on The Singles. Even though some of these selections appeared in longer form on the group's seminal albums, here they're presented as three- or four-minute edits. In the case of tracks like Tago Mago's sprawling centerpiece "Halleluwah" or the lovely riverside drift of Future Days' title track, the single version distills them to their essence, concentrating on the moments with the heaviest grooves and most up-front vocals. Of course, Can's albums contained plenty of tracks that were obvious choices for singles, and tunes like the smooth, trippy "She Brings the Rain" and the immortal funk jams "Vitamin C" and "Mushroom" are among the most memorable and instantly appealing selections in the group's sprawling catalog. Two of the group's poppiest singles even managed to become genuine chart hits at the time of their release. The 1971 single "Spoon," which uniquely combined live drumming with a drum-machine pulse, reached the German Top Ten after it was featured as the theme song to a popular television program called Das Messer. A few years later, Can's cosmic disco single "I Want More" hit the U.K. Top 30, and even resulted in an appearance on the BBC's iconic Top of the Pops. Aside from songs like this, which are well known even to casual fans of the group, the collection contains a decent amount of rarities and lesser-known A-sides (particularly from the group's later, less canonical incarnations). Some of these are among the silliest pieces the group ever laid to tape. "Turtles Have Short Legs," a rare single from 1971, is particularly goofy, with Damo Suzuki giddily shouting over the song's supremely jaunty piano-led rhythm. There's also a curious instrumental rendition of the Christmas standard "Silent Night." Even more head-scratching is "Can Can," a swirling, athletic interpretation of the familiar Jacques Offenbach melody, and the novelty single "Hoolah Hoolah," from Can's late-'80s reunion album Rite Time (which featured the group's original vocalist, Malcolm Mooney). Songs like these are pretty trivial compared to the group's best work, but in the context of a run through the group's singles, they're harmless whimsy. For all of their serious, avant-garde inclinations, Can could be awfully fun to listen to, and this alternate universe hit parade is a sterling demonstration of the group at its most immediate, energetic, and enjoyable. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 1, 1973 | Mute

On Future Days, Can fully explored the ambient direction they had introduced into their sound on the previous year's Ege Bamyasi, and in the process created a landmark in European electronic music. Where Ege Bamyasi had played fast and loose with elements of rock song structure, Future Days dispensed with these elements altogether, creating hazy, expansive soundscapes dominated by percolating rhythms and evocative layers of keys. Vocalist Damo Suzuki turns in his final and most inspired performance with the band. His singing, which takes the form here of a rhythmic, nonsensical murmur, is all minimal texture and shading. Apart from the delightfully concise single "Moonshake," the album is comprised of just three long atmospheric pieces of music. The title track eases us into the sonic wash, while "Spray" is built around Suzuki's eerie vocals, which weave in and out of the shimmering instrumental tracks. The closing "Bel Air" is a gloriously expansive piece of music that progresses almost imperceptibly, ending abruptly after exactly 20 minutes. Aptly titled, Future Days is fiercely progressive, calming, complex, intense, and beautiful all at once. It is one of Can's most fully realized and lasting achievements. © Anthony Tognazzini /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 28, 2021 | Mute

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Can's experimentation and willingness to take unprecedented risks touched every aspect of their music. The Krautrock legends' innovative approach to studio albums produced some of the most exciting results of the entire era of rock music they existed in, but the foundation for their studio brilliance was in their otherworldly powers as a live entity. Live in Stuttgart 1975 captures some of this live magic, documenting the entirety of a 90-minute-long, fully improvised concert made up of five lengthy jams. For the most part, the performances are high-energy and intricate and the band sounds almost supernaturally communicative. Instead of taking turns soloing over sleepy blues-based vamps, Can swing between complex modes that they explore restlessly. Sometimes they'll break into what sounds like familiar material -- a rhythm or a riff that starts to sound like something from Tago Mago -- but these hints of structure never fully materialize. Throughout the set, Can is determined to go new places. The band had just recorded their sixth LP, Landed, which at that point combined both their most high-tech production and their most straightforward jam band material. Some of that excessive jam focus comes through on Stuttgart 1975. The cautious intro to "Zwei" (the album's five pieces are titled with German numerals) has the same lazy shuffle and prismatic guitar noodling as the Grateful Dead during their live sets. That mellowness lasts only a moment before taking one of many quick turns to wilder territory. There are some parallels to the ungrounded freeform of electric Miles Davis and Hendrix's raw live recordings, but there's also some integration of early synthesizers and a rhythmic presence that sounds like Can and Can alone. Whether locked into an airtight groove or exploring noisy chaos, the band moves as a singular organism that doesn't let up for a second. Their studio albums solidified Can's reputation as one of the most important and groundbreaking bands of their time, but Stuttgart 1975 exemplifies how that creative spirit translated to the stage, highlighting yet another side of Can's limitless ability. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Mute

Malcolm Mooney passes the baton to Damo Suzuki for Soundtracks, a collection of film music featuring contributions from both vocalists. The dichotomy between the two singers is readily apparent: Suzuki's odd, strangulated vocals fit far more comfortably into the group's increasingly intricate and subtle sound, allowing for greater variation than Mooney's stream-of-consciousness discourse. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo

Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Mute

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For listeners daunted by Can's long and winding discography, Anthology 1968-1993 presents short-form highlights like "Spoon," "Future Days," "Moonshake," "She Brings the Rain," and 25 others. Yes, the albums are better places to hear all of these tracks, and there's a typically Cannish disregard for chronology or narrative (i.e., don't hope for liner notes), but this double-disc set is an excellent introduction to the band's 25-year career. © Keith Farley /TiVo

Rock - Released June 19, 2012 | Mute

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When the studio of ever-groundbreaking Krautrock pioneers Can was sold to Germany's Rock n' Pop Museum, the entire space was disassembled and moved, and in the process, reels and reels of poorly marked and seemingly forgotten tapes were found buried amid other detritus in the studio. These tapes held over 30 hours of unreleased music from Can spanning a nine-year period and including work from both vocalists Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki. Edited down to just over three hours, The Lost Tapes still includes an extensive amount of unheard studio, live, and soundtrack work from the band, and at its heights is as revelatory and brilliant as the best material on their well-loved albums. Early vocalist Malcolm Mooney left the band under doctor's orders after suffering a nervous breakdown connected with heavy paranoia, and his unhinged vocals characterize collections of early Can recordings like Delay. On The Lost Tapes, Mooney rants his way through the ten-plus-minute "Waiting for the Streetcar," a charged jam that crackles with all the same kind of energy that would embody the post-punk movement years later. Of the Mooney era, "Deadly Doris" also has the same fuzzy punk vibes meeting the kind of Krautrock groove Can excelled at, while the spoken eeriness of "When Darkness Comes" finds a brittle soundscape of formless tones and menacing muttering. Highlights are bountiful throughout the set's three discs, with soundtrack work like the hypnotic "Dead Pigeon Suite" and brilliant live renditions of classic tracks from the Damo Suzuki era like "Spoon" and "Mushroom." Some of the material cuts in and out between studio and live recordings, while other studio tracks are extended pieces with well-known album tracks housed in the middle of before-unheard jams. With over 30 hours of material to cull from, it goes without saying that Can loved to jam. If The Lost Tapes has any shortcomings, it would be that Can's exploratory nature led them to follow any idea at great length, and several of the songs approach or exceed the nine-minute mark, making the set difficult to digest at once. Some of the live tracks lack the fire of the rest of the set, as do some of the seemingly innocuous interludes. While The Lost Tapes isn't for every casual listener, the collection keeps from becoming a "fans only" compilation through the sheer amount of ideas and material put forth. Can's inarguable importance in so many fields of music from experimental to production-minded electronic music and so on has spanned generations, and these lost recordings represent an amazing mother lode to any Can enthusiast and certainly should hold more than enough interesting moments for even a curious new listener. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1969 | Mute

Though Monster Movie was the first full-length album in what would become a sprawling and often genre-defining discography, Can were on a level well ahead of the curve even in their most formative days. Recorded and released in 1969, Monster Movie bears many of the trademarks that Can would explore as they went on, as well as elements that would set the scene for the burgeoning Krautrock movement. This would be the only album Can's first singer Malcolm Mooney would sing the entirety of, as he was replaced by Damo Suzuki by the time of 1970's Soundtracks, leaving the band after going through a highly unstable time. Mooney was known for his erratic ways, and some of that mania undoubtedly comes through here, with his caterwauling howls on the unexpectedly garage-influenced "Outside My Door" as well as the sung-spoken pseudo-poetry rants of album opener "Father Cannot Yell." Riding a particularly Velvet Underground vibe, "Father Cannot Yell" sounds like post-punk before punk even existed. Irmin Schmidt's brittle keyboard squalls and dissonant rhythms and Mooney's buried recitations predated the Fall, Swell Maps, the noise scene, and generations of difficult sound by years and in some cases decades. Holger Czukay's pensive basslines are also an already distinctive calling card of the band on this debut, providing a steadfast glue for the barrages of noisy tones, edits, and pulses the record offers from all angles. The 20-minute album closer "Yoo Doo Right" is an enormous highlight, cementing the locked-in hypnotic exploration Can would extrapolate on for the rest of their time and come to be known for. Mooney's raspy vocals range from whispery incantations to throaty rock & roll shouts, building with the band into an almost mantra-level meditation as the song repeats its patterns and multi-layered grooves into what feels like infinity. Legend has it that the final side-long version of the song was edited down from a six-hour recording session focusing on that tune alone. Given the level of commitment to experimentation Can would go on to show, it's not hard to believe they'd play one song for six hours to find its core, nor is it unfathomable that Monster Movie was the more accessible album they recorded after their first attempts were deemed too out there to be commercially released. Even in their earliest phases, Can were making their name by blowing away all expectations and notions that rock & roll had limits of any kind. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1971 | Mute

With the band in full artistic flower and Damo Suzuki's sometimes moody, sometimes frenetic speak/sing/shrieking in full effect, Can released not merely one of the best Krautrock albums of all time, but one of the best albums ever, period. Tago Mago is that rarity of the early '70s, a double album without a wasted note, ranging from sweetly gentle float to full-on monster grooves. "Paperhouse" starts things brilliantly, beginning with a low-key chime and beat, before amping up into a rumbling roll in the midsection, then calming down again before one last blast. Both "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah," the latter with Schmidt filling out the quicker pace with nicely spooky keyboards, continue the fine vibe. After that, though, come the huge highlights -- three long examples of Can at its absolute best. "Halleluwah" -- featuring the Liebezeit/Czukay rhythm section pounding out a monster trance/funk beat; Karoli's and Schmidt's always impressive fills and leads; and Suzuki's slow-building ranting above everything -- is 19 minutes of pure genius. The near-rhythmless flow of "Aumgn" is equally mind-blowing, with swaths of sound from all the members floating from speaker to speaker in an ever-evolving wash, leading up to a final jam. "Peking O" continues that same sort of feeling, but with a touch more focus, throwing in everything from Chinese-inspired melodies and jazzy piano breaks to cheap organ rhythm boxes and near babbling from Suzuki along the way. "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" wraps things up as a fine, fun little coda to a landmark record. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | Mute

With Suzuki departed, vocal responsibilities were now split between Karoli and Schmidt. Wisely, neither try to clone Mooney or Suzuki, instead aiming for their own low-key way around things. The guitarist half speaks/half whispers his lines on the opening groover, "Dizzy Dizzy," while on "Come Sta, La Luna" Schmidt uses a higher pitch that is mostly buried in the background. Czukay sounds like he's throwing in some odd movie samples on that particular track, though perhaps it's just heavy flanging on Schmidt's vocals. Karoli's guitar achieves near-flamenco levels on the song, an attractive development that matches up nicely with the slightly lighter and jazzier rhythms the band comes up with on tracks like "Splash." Also, his violin work -- uncredited on earlier releases -- is a bit more prominent here. Musically, if things are a touch less intense on Babaluma, the sense of a band perfectly living in each other's musical pocket and able to react on a dime hasn't changed at all. "Chain Reaction," the longest track on the album, shows that the combination of lengthy jam and slight relaxation actually can go together rather well. After an initial four minutes of quicker pulsing and rhythm (which sounds partly machine provided), things downshift into a slower vocal section before firing up again; Karoli's blistering guitar work at this point is striking to behold. "Chain Reaction" bleeds into Babaluma's final song, "Quantum Physics," a more ominous piece with Czukay's bass closer to the fore, shaded by Schmidt's work and sometimes accompanied by Liebezeit. It makes for a nicely mysterious conclusion to the album. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | Mute

The second of Can's three Virgin albums, 1976's Flow Motion, is a divisive record in the group's canon. It was their most commercially successful album (the opening track, "I Want More," was released as a single in the U.K. and actually charted, thanks to its smoothly percolating near-disco groove, which makes it resemble a late-period Roxy Music hit), but many fans dismiss it as the group's feint toward commercial success. That fluke hit aside, the charge doesn't really hold water. There's a newfound smoothness to the group's interplay, which Holger Czukay attributes to an interest in reggae music, yet the Caribbean influence is quite subtle; only on "Cascade Waltz" and, particularly, "Laugh Till You Cry Live Till You Die" is there a noticeable reggae lilt. The two highlight tracks are "Smoke," a wild, Moroccan-styled entry in their ever-growing Ethnological Forgery Series, and the limber title track, a ten-and-a-half minute instrumental groove that recalls the best moments of earlier albums like Soon Over Babaluma. By no means one of Can's very best albums, Flow Motion deserves better than its poor reputation in some circles. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | Mute

Expanding the original Limited Edition release to a full double-LP/single-CD set, Unlimited is very much a dog's breakfast -- albeit a highly entertaining one -- of previously unreleased performances. Suzuki and Mooney take the spotlight on some songs, while on others the key foursome go at it in their usual way. A number of songs are mere snippets, like the vaguely tribal-sounding "Blue Bag," while one tune, the 20-minute "Cutaway," from 1969, is a sprawling pastiche of oddities. (Keep an ear out for the very formal request to keep modulations in frequency with other bandmembers!) Five cuts are listed as part of the band's continuing Ethnological Forgery Series, on which they recreate or interpret a variety of world musics through their own vision. The majority of songs come from 1968-1971 -- manna from heaven for those interested in the band's roots. Many cuts show off the varying abilities of the players. Leibezeit plays wind instruments on five separate cuts, while Schmidt is credited with "schizophone" on the Mooney-sung funk-soul of "The Empress and the Ukraine King." Though a few tracks are seemingly here to fill space, a lot of what's present easily stands up on its own, and with the band's legend as well. The opening cut, "Gomorrha," recorded after Suzuki's departure, is quite fine, an understated but still epic piece with lovely keyboards from Schmidt and intoxicating Karoli guitar. On the Suzuki-era cut "I'm Too Leise," Leibezeit's medieval flutes and light percussion add to a half-folk/half-something-else vibe. Mooney gets an interesting moment of glory with "Mother Upduff," a spoken-word tale of tourists in Europe that turns increasingly strange after the encounter with the octopus. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1981 | Mute

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Rock - Released January 1, 1977 | Mute

Bearing bar none the worst title pun of any Can album -- and with titles like Cannibalism, that's saying something -- 1977's Saw Delight was the German progressive group's farewell. Clearly, the core quartet had found themselves in a rut by the recording of this album, bringing in percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah and bassist Rosko Gee from a late-era lineup of Traffic to add a sort of Afro-Cuban jazz feel to their sound. What's frustrating is that this idea could have worked brilliantly, but the execution is all wrong. Instead of the polyrhythmic fireworks expected from a drum duel between Baah and the African-influenced Jaki Liebezeit, Can's senior drummer basically rolls over, keeping time with simple beats while the percussionist takes on the hard work. Similarly, Rosko Gee's handling of the bass duties (which he performs superbly throughout, adding an almost Mingus-like rhythmic intensity to even the loosest songs) frees Holger Czukay to add electronics and sound effects to the proceedings, an opportunity he doesn't make much of. On the up side, the opening "Don't Say No" recalls the controlled fury of earlier tunes like "Moonshake," and side two, consisting of Gee's lengthy, jazz-based composition "Animal Waves" and the lovely instrumental "Fly by Night," is largely excellent, but the two lengthy tracks that close side one are melodically and rhythmically pale in comparison, and there's a tired, somewhat dispirited vibe to the whole album that makes it an unsatisfying send-off to Can's career. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Mute

Another erratic waxing features some great guitar and Babaluma-style grooves, but is unfocused on the whole. © Myles Boisen /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Mute

Anticipating their detractors with an ironic indictment against purity, Can (yes, the band were consulted) stepped aside while a somewhat ponderous collection of remixers mucked about in their back catalog, Sacrilege being the result. Although the album might have been more appropriate a few years earlier (Can sound about as experimental today as your average auto advert) and with a more bizarre slate of remixers (Westbam? Kris Needs?), the album is nevertheless an interesting collection of occasionally inspired reinterpretations of classic Can material, with high points hit by Carl Craig's dystopian fog, "Future Days," and Air Liquide's rousing groover "Flow Motion." Of course, Can's own tendency toward self-indulgence means you can hardly fault the worst of these tracks (the Orb's oddly subpar "Halleluwah," U.N.K.L.E.'s forgettable-before-you've-even-finished-with-it stutterer "Vitamin C") for doing the same thing, but that doesn't make them any easier to listen to. © Sean Cooper /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1979 | Mute

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Rock - Released January 24, 2012 | Mute

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Rock - Released January 1, 1978 | Mute

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All but unknown to most but the most hardcore Can fanatics, 1978's Out of Reach is one of the group's rarest albums. This is due in large part to the fact that bassist Holger Czukay left the band before the recording sessions, and drummer Jaki Liebezeit has a greatly reduced role, leaving most of the rhythm duties to percussionist-come-lately Reebop Kwaku Baah. As a result, many fans don't consider this a true Can album. They have a point, and there's no doubt that this is not one of Can's better albums. However, it's not an album to be dismissed outright. As on the group's proper swan song, 1977's Saw Delight, new bassist Rosko Gee largely leads the group, and his jazz-inflected playing is marvelous, especially on the centerpiece improvisations "November" and "Serpentine." On the down side, he should never have been allowed to sing: The inept "The Pauper's Daughter" is saved from being Can's worst-ever recording only by the even worse "Like Inobe God" on side two. Can themselves have disowned this album, making it the only Can music not reissued on their Spoon label in the '90s. © Stewart Mason /TiVo