CAN, THE LOST TAPES 1968-1975: On the way to mother sky, again

 |   |  1 min read

Can: Millionenspiel
CAN, THE LOST TAPES 1968-1975: On the way to mother sky, again

Anyone who knows anything of Can, the German experimentalists who were post-rock before the term had been invented, knows the title of this three CD box set is perhaps a joke.

Being efficient Teutonics, Can probably never lost anything in their collective lives but rather had everthing scrupulously catalogued, filed and numbered.

Cross-referenced too, of course. 

And in the liner notes, Irmin Schmidt says everybody in the band had forgotten about these tapes, "except Hildegard who watches over Can and its work like a dragon over the gold of the Nibelungen and doesn't allow forgetting".

CanAnd so these recordings - many impromptu studio jams, some music for soundtracks, a few live -- have been pulled together along loosely thematic lines and nod towards everything from Captain Beefheart (Midnight Sky) to moody sonic landscapes (Networks of Foam), their faux-ethnic music projects and tape collages.

Then there are those typically rolling, extended pieces (Spoon, Abra Cada Braxas, the psychedelic On the Way to Mother Sky which was a working drawing for what became Mother Sky on their Soundtracks album) which are their aural fingerprint.

The point too is that for Can the journey of exploration and discovery was just as important as the officially released albums, which means these pieces are far from just offcuts thrown in the corner. Many are fully fledged, coherent statements.

There is gentleness here (the opening passages of the 11 minute Dead Pigeon Suite edited together from fragments, the hypnotically brief song A Swan is Born) but also intensity (Waiting for the Streetcar where Malcolm Mooney repeats the title like a mantra), some enticing fragments (The Loop) and some seriously weird stuff (True Story with Mooney improvising a shaggy dog story).

There are also just bits and pieces -- a Zappa-like free form guitar and electronic piece Godzilla Fragment -- and Midnight Men, the score to a pilot of a German television series which we must assume was pretty action packed.

The world is perhaps divided into two camps: those who love Can (Bowie, Thurston Moore, Johnny Rotten, Julian Cope to name but a few) and those for whom they just went straight past.

Elsewhere has long been into Can (Tago Mago is an Essential Elsewhere album and reviews of their work starts here), but I have a pretty clear-eyed view of this exceptional collection. The Lost Tapes is for the former camp, not the casual passerby.

Three and a half hours is a lot of Can.

A lot of -- as it transpires -- rather remarkable and mesmerising Can from the vaults.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

Graham Dunster - Jun 11, 2013

Bloody great live.

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute articles index

THE CLEAN, VEHICLE (2013): Running again at 33 1/3rpm

THE CLEAN, VEHICLE (2013): Running again at 33 1/3rpm

By the closing years of the Eighties, Flying Nun -- which had got off to such a brilliant start -- was in trouble, businesswise. The little label that flew had -- like Icarus -- gone too high too... > Read more

THE STEVE MILLER BAND (2013): From blues to smooth, and back

THE STEVE MILLER BAND (2013): From blues to smooth, and back

Hearing Steve Miller play his fine-tuned and smoothly upholstered hits like Abracadabra, The Joker, Fly Like an Eagle and Jet Airliner – as he will do when he tours with Santana in March... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE DISCO SUCKS MOVEMENT: Divide and . . . conk out

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE DISCO SUCKS MOVEMENT: Divide and . . . conk out

It’s both easy and hard to explain the rise of the Disco Sucks movement at the end of the Seventies. In some parts of the world the zenith of disco coincided with the emergence of punk,... > Read more

CHAMPION JACK DUPREE REMEMBERED (2012): Seconds out of the ring . . .

CHAMPION JACK DUPREE REMEMBERED (2012): Seconds out of the ring . . .

Blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree could always upset a few expectations. While his few remaining colleagues in the old blues game disavowed alcohol, Dupree told me in 1988 -- when he was... > Read more