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CAN: The Lost Tapes (Mute)
It lends itself far too easily to silly puns. But the truth is this—CAN’s Lost Tapes were literally found in the back of the cupboard. Discovered by and compiled by Irmin Schmidt and Jono Podmore after the German Rock N Pop Museum bought pieces from the band's studio in Weilerswist, Germany, CAN's collected works still sound as freaky as when they were recorded between 1968 and 1977.
Comprised of cuts that didn’t make the experimental collective’s main albums, live tracks, or film soundtracks that were never released, The Lost Tapes features droned chants, percussive sing-alongs, and all manner of inexplicable weirdness. While the glorious tangle still sounds compellingly fresh (and set the bar for the likes of The Fall, Tortoise and—in their weirder moments—Animal Collective), it’s difficult to imagine any modern band pulling off CAN’s extended jams—many which clock in well over ten minutes.
Included in the three-CD collection of uber-rarities is the 40th anniversary edition of Tago Mago. Recorded in 1971 after traditional song structure—and member Malcolm Mooney—had been jettisoned, Tago Mago is seven tracks of shiver inducing meandering. The sounds vary from the grating, cartoon-ready soundtrack of “Peking O,” to “Oh Yeah”—a take on jazz so carefree, one imagines a young Yo La Tengo using it as a blue print for later releases.
The real treasure though is the three Tago Mago bonus tracks. Recorded live in 1972, the three cuts show CAN at their most playful and (some might argue) most accessible. While Austin, Texas rockers Spoon would take their moniker from the half-hour jam that closes out the collection—there isn’t a band out there that has managed to match CAN’s fearless spirit.
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