Monday, September 10, 2007

Party Crashing pt. 1

Music Review: Can's Soundtracks & Tago Mago

Though this is my first blog, and yes, I'm writing on something that has probably been reviewed over hundreds of times, I can't help but start off this whole thing with a review of two albums that I find to be, not only extremely influential, but incredibly timeless, as they were recorded in 197o and 1971, respectively.
Can's whole mystique was that of a foreign monster who burst out music onto a canvas, twisted it around and called it "songs." Though they are songs, of course, they aren't and weren't songs in the popular sense. In fact, not even the most experimental groups at the time really created sounds the way Can did. Though I can list several groups that came close before Can's time (many early electronic musicians, for example, like Pauline Oliveros or even Raymond Scott, to an extent.), there wasn't a group or person that fused what was happening in the underground rock movement with what today is labeled avant-garde. Maybe Mayo Thompson of the Red Krayola, but even then, not to the power that Can held. I mean, fuck it, Can's just ultimately too badass to surpass (ooohhh!!)
Their first release, Monster Movie, didn't really showcase what they were capable of doing, though it did contain tracks that hinted at it (i.e. Father Cannot Yell and, of course, You Doo Right). However, it wasn't until after they released Soundtracks that the the track they would eventually take started to take form.
Recorded in 1970, Soundtracks boasts the ultimate Can song, "Mother Sky." If you've only heard the version off of Unlimited Collection, then fucking shoot yourself, asshole. The beginning of the song drops you into it as if you were being dropped off in the middle of some war. After about two minutes of beautiful noise, the song drops a bomb and everything quietly dies down to a repetitive beat and heavy bass line. Then that's it, besides a few moments of change, but that's basically it. It's AMAZING. You get hypnotized, and I'm not talking about some hippy bullshit, I mean you get fucked. It wails inside your head for 15 minutes and then afterwards you're left thinking, "Where was I just now?" Though the rest of the album doesn't go off in this fashion, it's still probably their first "great" album.
After Soundtracks, comes Tago Mago. Now, just imagine the drone of Mother Sky but slowed down, a vast tempo change and an obvious funk influence. It boasts some of Can's greatest material. "Paperhouse" starts the album off with this fucked up heroin sound and then crashes with an almost metal sound, but most metal sucks so forget I said that... "Mushroom," the second song, continues this drugged out sound in all it's eerie, psychedelic goodness. Then you get the completely hypnotic "Oh Yeah," which pulsates with unusual sound that I can only explain as a trip from hell (though it helps that I was once tripping balls, driving a car and listening to this song). Then, after all that amazingness, we get the song that has probably been the subject of much influence over the decades.
"Hallellulah" is probably one of the greatest songs of all time. Though many mainstream publications tend to overlook it, it's probably not only one of the greatest rock/trance/funk/whatever songs of all time, it's also a great dance song. I proved an old roommate wrong once, when, during an awesome party that we were throwing, I put on this song and everyone danced to it, for the entire 18 minutes of the song. "You can't play Can at a party!" Maybe he was right about most of Can's shit, but seriously, try it, get drunk and put this song on. You'll dance, and if you don't, then you, my friend, are too drunk. After "Hallellulah," the album quiets down, with the somewhat irritable "Aumngh" and the nice "Bring Me Coffee or Bring Me Tea." Overall, those two songs are cool but, well, I'm doing this all at work and we're about to close so....yeah.
Just pick up both albums and TRUST ME, you will love it, even if it takes you a few fucking times.