Monster Movie / Soundtracks / Tago Mago / Ege Bamyasi

BY Cam LindsayPublished Dec 1, 2004

Stirred by the wild sounds of Hendrix and Captain Beefheart, 36 years ago Can started their own musical revolution (later tagged "krautrock”) that constantly found them progressing ahead of their contemporaries and the rest, fusing rock, avant-garde, psychedelic and pop. A collective, more than an actual band, Can were five musicians of equal significance working together to incorporate classical and experimental concepts into rock music. Their monumental 1969 debut, Monster Movie, is easily their "rock” record, featuring the free-form poetics of Malcolm Mooney alongside a trance-like flurry of driving garage rock. Soundtracks followed, featuring both Mooney and his successor, Damo Suzuki, in a collection of film music. Often overlooked because of its compilation feel and outtake quality, it features one of the band’s signature songs, "Mother Sky,” an epic freak-out with an intensity that never dies in its 14-plus minutes. Tago Mago, a double album, is often cited as their masterwork. Using a multitude of studio effects they experimented with noise, haunting drones and frenzied electronics ("Aumgn”), on top of funk-filled jam sessions ("Halleluhwah”) and beautifully textured psych-folk ("Bring Me Coffee or Tea”). Ege Bamyasi (with its pun-derful artwork) didn’t lower the bar, but found the band focusing more on rhythm and melody as a tandem. Tracks like "I’m So Green” and the synth-heavy "Spoon” flirted with conventional song structures and proved the band could write catchy pop songs if they wished. "Soup,” however, looked to keep moving forward by mixing free rhythms with white noise, ambience and Suzuki’s primal screams. Each of these discs has been remastered as a Hybrid SACD from the original tapes, achieving the sound quality the first CD versions lacked. Special liner notes have been written (by David Stubbs and Bobby Gillespie) to accompany unseen photos and the original artwork, making this the ultimate Can experience every fan has been waiting for.

What problems did you find with the original recordings that you wanted to fix? Keyboardist Irmin Schmidt: The original tapes are about 32 to 35 years old, so they needed a special cleaning treatment, but fortunately it turned out not to be a great problem.

What made you decide to repackage the albums using SACD technology? The main reason for the remastering was, for the first release in 1989, there had been some tinkering. That's why they never sounded like the original vinyl. For this we went back to the original sound as it had been recorded, except some de-noising, which for the first time brings out subtle details, environmental sounds etc. Also, this new technology allows much wider dynamics.

Were you aware of how innovative Can was at the time? Of course, there was much more than "typical rhythm & blues” around: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart were innovative. We were totally aware that we were innovative, but of course, not as much and how influential it would become.

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