Saturday, July 24, 2021

Can - Tago Mago


Although I have known about Can for decades, and friends and critics have raved about them, I have never gotten around to exploring their sounds until now (thanks to pal Rob Bell for hipping me to this one). This is their second album, recorded in a castle in Cologne, with new vocalist Damo Suzuki, and is highly regarded for its sonic expeditions and blend of styles, from jazzy improvisations to funk rhythms to avant garde noise to tape manipulations and beyond. 

While a lot of the record sounds like what it was - a free form, progressive rock jam - there is overall structure and rhythm to the numbers, although there are periods of trippy, spacey, atmospheric sounds. The opening "Paperhouse" is a formatted rock song, for the most part, with jammed-out segments, but always keeping a beat behind it all and with plenty of dynamics, including some reasonably high energy sections. This blends pretty seamlessly into "Mushroom", which is certainly more spaced-out'n'echo'd, not to mention slower'n'stonier but with complex rhythms behind it all. "Oh Yeah" begins with a literal explosion (or was that "Mushroom" ending?) but turns into a slow, organ-led, somewhat meandering piece - again, kinda spacey on top with interesting rhythms underneath and fairly incomprehensible lyrics but it evolves into a more upbeat, organized piece. 

In the 18+ minute "Halleluhwah" they get downright funky, albeit with plenty of weirdness and sound manipulation'n'crazed vocalizing continuing, building, twisting and turning into many various' n'fascinating facets, that is followed by the 17 + minute "Aumgn", filled with more noisy manipulations, echo'd effects, slide guitars, keyboards and openness, starting'n'stopping, sounding somewhat like a more frightening Pink Floyd in their UmmaGumma explorations. 

In "Peking O" they once again go through many phases in one 11 minute piece, with plenty more aural freakouts and direction changes, at times sounding like hobbits arguing, at times sounding Zappa-ish, at times more Pink Floydian and other times like inmates in an asylum or a horror movie soundtrack. For the finale, "Bring Me Coffee or Tea",  they're akin to jazz in space, in an avant garde, free form kinda way.  

Very groovy stuff, in a psychedelic fashion - I will definitely need to scrutinize more of their repertoire!