The Lost Tapes: 1968-1977 - SPOON/MUTE
FILTER Grade: 90%
By A.D. Amorosi on June 18, 2012
Started amidst the anti-war protest of the late ’60s, Germany’s Can was a product of chaos and economy in every fashion. Students of avant-classicist composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, its members, bassist/tape splicer Holger Czukay and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, applied the hippie sensibilities of freedom and equality to their school-learnt noise and brought in the crunch of guitarist Michael Karoli and the thwack of free-jazz expatriate drummer Jaki Liebezeit, whose metronomic rhythms drove the ensemble. Add to that spare throbbing savagery the screech of singers such as Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki and you got a concentric-circling brand of surround sound that would come to be known as Krautrock. Sonic Youth, Tortoise, Stereolab, Mouse on Mars, Radiohead, David Sylvian and LCD Soundsystem all take influence from Can’s groovy, monotonous, improvisational melee. Though 1971 through 1973 are viewed as Can’s prime, with irked epics such as Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days released in yearly succession, abrasive and ambient latter-day albums like Soon Over Babaluma and Landed are totems of Teutonica. (Buy the collection.)
Curated by Schmidt and Mute label boss Daniel Miller, these lost tapes—not half-hearted outtakes or unfinished Mona Lisas, but genuinely misplaced fully-realized songs discovered on old shelves when Can’s studio in Weilerswist was sold to the German Rock’n’Pop Museum—represent crucial psalms from one of adventurous pop’s most necessary bibles. The clipped fracas of “Millionenspiel,” the seaside scrawl of “Blind Mirror Surf,” the silly sonic boom of “Bubble Rap,” the grouch disco of “Godzilla Fragment,” the oblong jazz of “Your Friendly Neighbourhood Whore,” the nattering noir of “Private Nocturnal,” the gabby punk of “The Agreement” and a truly noxious live version of its kinda-sorta-hit “Spoon,” are just a few of the 30 raw-bone revelations found in this ferocious box. Get Lost and stay lost.