In creating a unique sound-world of wanderlust and wonderment, Can is up there with Hendrix and Miles Davis. Each phase of Can's meandering career has opened up vast vistas of fertile terrain for subsequent bands to colonize and cultivate: avant-funk( Talking Heads, PiL, Cabaret Voltaire), trance-rock (Loop, f/i, Cul de Sac), lo-fi (Pavement, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282) and post-rock (Bark Psychosis, Laika). Can also uncannily anticipated many moves made by entire genres of contemporary "sampladelic" music, such as ethno-techno, jungle, and ambient hip hop. Basically, when it comes to psychedelic, dance music, those crafty Krauts wrote the goddamn book.
Can's core members-- bassist Holger Czukay, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, drummer Jaki Liebezeit and guitarist Michael Karoli-- came from avant-garde and improv-jazz backgrounds; Czukay and Schmidt had both studied with Stockhausen. But instead of exploring aleatory noise or jerky time signatures, Can discovered-- through the Velvet Underground, and later via James Brown-- the Zen power of repetition and restriction. Minimalism and mantra-ism were hallmarks of the Krautrock aesthetic, but what set Can apart from its peers was a fervent embrace of groove. Like Miles Davis's early-'70s albums ( On The Corner, Dark Magus, etc.), Can's best work fuses "black" funk with "white" neo-psych freakitude. Recording in its own studio in a Cologne castle, the band adopted a jam-and-chop methodology similar to that used by Davis and his producer Teo Macero: improvise for hours, then edit the best bits into coherent tracks. As then band's Macero figure, Czukay worked miracles with a handful of mikes and two-track recording. Can's proto-ambient spatiality actually diminished when they went to 16-track in the mid '70s.
Named after a sorcerer, Tago Mago contains Can's most disorienting, shamanistic work. Torn between two impulses-- James Brownian motion and post-Floyd chromatic flux-- the double album spans the polyrhythmic roil of "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah,"Aumgn'"s dub-reverberant catacombs, and the fractal sound-daubings and scat-gibberish of "Peking O"-- a meisterwerk.


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