CAN - The Lost Tapes (Spoon Records, 2012)
CAN has given us a very rare sort of treat that, as the years stack on, is less and less likely to crop up in the world of music. Their innovative minds elevate this to a cause for celebration, for CAN changed a great deal in the landscape of music in the seventies. They created entire genres of music with single tracks—all of which, were almost entirely composed on impulse and edited down to their signatured complexity and chaotic perfection.
The Lost Tapes are boiled down to thirty tracks spread across three discs, and they showcase every aspect and stage in the evolution of our beloved CAN. From the very first track, "Millionenspiel," and its slow onset of layered sound that erupts into an unconventionally engrossing groove complimented by flute, it is immediately apparent that these aren't just garbled, bootleg quality tracks that sat in a damp basement collecting mold for four decades. We are talking prime studio quality material. This is history. Or rather, a history lesson in the evolution of Rock & Roll.
All of their most prominent influences come through, each track standing completely on its own as an example of their heritage. The "Evening All Day" examplifies their fondness for von Beil-esque compositions as far back as 1969, while "True Story" gives the impression that the boys had paid a visit to New York, and sat in on some beat poetry sessions—the electronic drone gives a sense of horror to the whole scenery. The scatter-brained, off the hinges "Deadly Doris" can only suggest that The Beatles' White Album was a fleeting precursor, "Sexy Sadie" being repeated along with the schizophrenic, mantra-like "Deadly, deadly, deadly, deadly, deadly Doris."
Their powers of brilliant impulse shred sixteen minutes into the hypnotic and multi-faceted "Graublau"; when it's through, time is empty and you'll have lost all concept of it. Strange and beautiful tracks like "Dead Pigeon Suite" will give you a feel for their embrace of music from around the world; ethnically diverse instrumentation and sensual, exotic rhythm, but hardly without a ninety-degree shift in tone to keep you on your toes as a responsible listener. As the collection progresses, those familiar with CAN's music will immediately recognize fragments of CAN staples in what were otherwise discarded tracks, offering insight into their creative process. The live tracks included are by no means filler. They showcase classic CAN tracks, given the expansive, time and space defying treatment that vinyl simply couldn't allow them.
The thrill of listening to these lost tapes is, and I cannot stress this enough, the knowledge that you are listening to a group of musicians that are in the budding of their professional career, and every track is an innovation unto itself. It is history. No band dared tread where CAN boisterously frollicked. They were the Nikola Teslas of experimental music; brilliant pioneers, but in the grand scheme they have been criminally outshined by their students.
Review made by Hunter Gatherer/2013
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