6:00 AM GMT 22/06/2011
Collective, improvisational, Krautrock gigantism for inner space odysseys.
Recalling vocalist Damo Suzuki's debut appearance with Can, at the Blow Up disco in Munich, bassman Holger Czukay remembered the singer screaming at the audience so much that everybody left bar 60-odd gig-goers. In one version of the story, one of the remaining groovers was David Niven. Is it true? Listen to Tago Mago, named for a magical island off Ibiza, and you will believe. Seven songs that last an hour and ten minutes - or could it be years - it shimmers in spectrally with the foreboding Paperhouse. Damo's in lamenting mood, but then two minutes in the beats starts up. And what beats they are; Jaki Leibezeit is, no doubt, one of the most amazing drummers in all rock'n'roll (guitarist Michael Karoli described his rhythms as having "great cosmic coldness") and his megalithic grooves drive Tago Mago. Paperhouse segues straight into the weird clatter of the ghoulish, psychotic Mushroom, and then a mighty detonation heralds the backwards-tape lift-off of Oh Yeah (incidentally, this is where Mark E Smith borrowed some for The Fall's 1985 tribute I Am Damo Suzuki). After that we're into the molasses-wading, Madchester-twenty years too early morlock lope of Halleluhwah, which chops and changes and occupies a similar mighty space as Yoo Doo Right does on Can's debut Monster Movie. 18 minutes long and worth every moment, it chops and builds to a paroxysm of battlement-leaping lunacy before collapsing in exhaustion. Get through it and you're set for Aumgn's 17 occult minutes of acid mouth-music, sawing violins and chain rattling, and Peking O's 11.35 of wilderness wailing, cha-cha rhythms and speeded-up cartoon voices reminiscent of kids' TV fave Pingu (both of these monstrous pieces will, naturally, separate the mere downloaders from the true believers). Bringing the trip to its end, Bring Me Coffee Or Tea has the same sense of forlornness as the first song, half-suggesting Can's freak hit of the near future Spoon with a dash of The Doors' snake charming organ and wire guitars that can unsettle like a big furry moth suddenly divebombing your face from out of the dark. So was David Niven there at the Blow Up? He must have been!
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 2:25 PM GMT 10/08/2010
Can – Monster Movie (UA, 1969)
Steve Reid – Daxaar (Domino, 2007)
The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace (Beggars Banquet, 1985)