This was the first Can album I ever owned, a tatty vinyl copy that attracted me with its striking cover. I'd never come across them before and it was like nothing I had ever heard. I loved it, little realising then that I was starting back to front, with a band in the throes of falling apart. The wholly instrumental pieces work best here, especially November, a masterpiece. They are full of fiendish snaky rhythms that seem always on the point of disintegrating but, largely due to Liebezeit's extraordinary technique, eventually find their way back again. Likewise Karoli's brittle guitar work, where elusive strands of melody surface just often enough for it to avoid collapsing into noise.
Reputedly the band members themselves didn't like Out of Reach and I suppose their opinion ought to count for something! It may help to explain why this album has been comparatively hard to come by over the decades, making the title oddly apt. I know this is a long way from the experimentalism of Tago Mago and the arthaus madness of Damo Suzuki but it is a late and surprising return to form (I later learned). After Suzuki left, album by album Can moved away from their signature meandering improvisations towards tighter, shorter compositions. By the time of Flow Motion and Saw Delight, good though these albums were compared with the competition, they were pale shadows of the work on which Can's reputation had been founded. Out of Reach harks back to the earlier Can. It contains perhaps their final collective expressions of genius. One star? I don't think so.