Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Can - 1971 - Tago Mago

Found on this website.

Things are really looking up for CAN at this point. Malcolm Mooney, now history thanks to his mental illness that forced him back to the United States, Damo Suzuki (who already appeared on all but two cuts on Soundtracks) of course, filling in. A lot of this still sounds quite psychedelic, as "Paperhouse" demonstrates, with Michael Karoli's guitar work. Plus there's lots of great percussion work from Jaki Liebezeit. The music then segues in to "Mushroom", which is a bit difficult for me to describe, so I'll go on with the next song, "Oh Yeah". This is definately the high point of the album, great psychedelic vibe with Irmin Schmidt's organ, Holger Czukay keeping his own on his bass, and Damo Suzuki at first singing something in reverse (that is, the tape of him singing was playing in reverse, while the band plays in forward).

Then after a bit, he starts singing (forward, with the rest of the band) in his native tongue, Japanese (it's too bad that I don't know what it translates to, or the Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji characters to the lyrics). Then there's the side length "Halleluwah", which is definately Jaki Liebezeit's time to shine, especially with the percussion, with Damo's voice on top. There's a couple of detours on the way, but it sticks to the same throughout, and while this result might seem boring, it actually isn't, it works quite well. The second disc (that is, if you own the LP, as both discs were crammed on to one CD) is by far some of the most radical pieces of "music" I have ever heard, and I've heard some very radical stuff in my lifetime (such as BRAINTICKET's "Cottonwoodhill", ASH RA TEMPEL's "Seven Up", or the early works of TANGERINE DREAM on the Ohr label).

The first side of the second disc is taken up with "Aumgn", by far the most frightening and sinister piece of "music" I have ever heard! Mainly trippy sound effects with Irmin Schmidt, without a doubt having noted 1920s British occultist Aleister Crowley on his mind, repeatedly chanting "Augmn" (which sounds like "Aum", but with a much more sinister tone - "Aumgn" was a chant invented by Crowley himself) over and over with some extremely relentless electronic effects. Somewhere is this almost didgeridoo-like droning played on a double bass (if the band actually used a didgeridoo, it would make that piece even more sinister). Then after that's over, Jaki Liebezeit then gives us a wall of relentless percussion over more relentless electronic effects. And just when you think you've had enough, side four opens up with "Peking O". Luckily it's not so sinister, but it's just completely demented, complete with Damo's mindless babbling and a cheesy sounding drum machine. This piece actually got me laughing. Then the album closes with "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" which is a much more mellow, psychedelic number dominated organ, it's like a very welcome ending after being hammered for a half an hour with relentless noise and electronic effects. Without a doubt "Aumgn" and "Peking O" are the definate love it or hate it pieces.

Everyone will question your sanity for listening to those pieces, and they're certain clear parties so fast, you'd be wondering if you remembered to hold a party. But those two pieces are absolute genius, and you have to be pretty accustomed to the more radical albums of Krautrock (like TANGERINE DREAM's "Zeit") to appeciate this. Incredible stuff, and without a doubt, CAN at their finest!

Track listing

All songs written by Can.

1. "Paperhouse" – 7:29
2. "Mushroom" – 4:08
3. "Oh Yeah" – 7:22
4. "Halleluhwah" – 18:32
5. "Aumgn" – 17:22
6. "Peking O" – 11:35
7. "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" – 6:47