on 17 March 2001
Spring-clean your brain with this minimalist German avant-garde rock classic. Bassist Holger Czukay's riffs and figures prove that it's what you leave out that counts, while Jaki Liebzeit's pin-sharp percussion is state-of-the-art subtle.
Guitars and keyboards swirl and chop and scratch and slide, from eerie to intimate to what the hell was that sound? This is a cliché-free zone, where there's always plenty of time to improvise (10 minutes worth on "Soup") or simply chug along regardless.
Most of these tracks are acutally songs, and they're sung / whispered / mumbled / shouted in English by (of course) a Japanese busker called Damo Suzuki. You will never get "Vitamin C" out of your head.
Listen to Ege Bamyasi and everything else sounds pompous - be warned, this is completely bewitching.
on 28 April 2003
Even if you have never heard of these lovable mop-tops from Koln, you will be familiar with their sound. Can are, quite simply one of the most influential musical groups of the last century. their sound has been immitated and frequently sampled and their influence on the dance music of the 1990s is unquestionable. Listening to the band's output, you will hear musical influences from around the globe, the short wave radio played as an instrument, taped "samples" used well before any body else thought of the idea and weird improvised lyrics, not to mention virtuoso performances from all the instrumentalists. this album dates from 1972 but still sounds fresh and challenging today!
Ege Bamyasi might not be the band's most accessible album but it contains many of their finest songs. Sadly, it also contains the lengthy improvised thrashes, "soup" and "pinch" which are hard work even for the seasoned fan. but listen to the strange blend of cool, almost churchy organ floating over the throbbing funk drum line on "vitamin c", the weird, syd barrettesque nursery rhyme that is "spoon", the pulsating trance beat of "one more saturday night" and the floaty psychedelia of "sing swan song" and you will be captivated. "Saw Delight" is certainly more accessible, and "Soon Over Babaluma" may be slicker but once you have one Can album you're going to want hear more, so you might as well start here.
on 6 August 2006
This album, along with 'Tago Mago' marks a tremendous growth in the sound of Can. Ege Bamyasi, to me is the best album of the Damo years, Vitamin C is a testament to that. Jaki's drums are at the forefront and drive the album as a whole. Karoli is somewhat more muted than Tago Mago, but the arrangements (edits) make this album a more pastoral and reflective set than what had gone before. It stands up today as a great album, as do most Can albums..even the later period such as 'Saw Delight' etc are hugely underrated. many people hold on to the Damo years as Can's definitive period, but their whole output is definitive, full stop. For a newcomer this is a great place to start, and it holds many nuances in what appears to be a rather streamlined and simplistic sound, part of Can's genius. I cannot reccomend this band enough, they espoused true innovation and improvisation within a closely knit group dynamic, rarely seen bar the likes of This Heat et al.
Dip in and enjoy.
on 16 December 2002
The 70's... great changes are happening in the music scene; bands like The Beatles have established the standards of pop, The Rolling Stones the standards for rock, Pink Floyd are trying to incorporate new technologies and new musical concepts, Faust and Kraftwerk are creating new fields...
and then they came, CAN. Well, actually they had started in the late 60's, but in my opinion, it wasn't until 1971 when they released TAGO MAGO with Damo Suzuki as singer that they redefined music.
Can are not in everyone's mouths as The Beatles or Pink Floyd are; and Can's discography is probably more limited. But what they achieved in 3, only 3 albums, is incomparable and unique.
With Tago Mago they had established in the most brutal and extreme way which was their proposals: long improvisations in which everything could be turned into music: objects crashing against the floor, guitars playes as by aliens, frenetic drums, synths, and a singer who sang partly in English, partly in Japanese, the rest in a surrealistic nonsense language.
And now you think... is this music? can it be listened to and enjoyed? My answer is, definetely yes.
(Listen to Tago Mago: experience it for yourself, no words can make it justice, I rate it as probably one of the 10 best albums I've ever heard)
Now, with Ege Bamyasi some things changed, but their spirit remained intact. This album is more "listenable" and "digestable". It's as if Can said: "well, we have pushed the limits of music against the most extreme limits with Tago Mago. Now let's come back to pop and rock music and make them believe we are normal, just to hit them in their faces when they less expect it" Something like that.
Ege Bamyasi is the way Can saw pop and rock music. Suzuki even sings, though in his peculiar samurai style, as someone defined it. Liebezeit shows us he's a real virtuso with the drums, but especially because he manages to break the typical playing: his drumming is unexpected, danceable, magical.
Ege Bamyasi is less extreme than Tago Mago, but catchier. Some songs are actually catchy, such as 'Sing Swan Song'; others addictive such as 'Vitamin C' or 'Im so green'; others are very very experimental in a Tago Mago way, such as 'Soup'. All are amazingly good.
Can is a band you need to know. Their line up changed a lot, and though we all have our preferences, I only consider 3 Can albums as indispensable: 'Tago Mago', 'Ege Bamyasi' and 'Future Days', all with Suzuki as lunatic/singer.
I think I'm not exagerating when I say they are probably the most influential band in modern music. Industrial music had its roots in Can; even drum'n bass is inspired by Can's wonderful drummer's original style. OK it's less catchy than Beatles or Pink Floyd... and their marketing was inexistent. But listen to CAN you won't regret it.
The only band comparable, in my humble opinion (what is in the end artistic perception but personal opinion?), to the great he Legendary Pink Dots, who admittedly had Can as one of their influences.
Few bands can boast a sound that's as original, distinctive and influential as Can's heyday albums. 1971's "Tago Mago" was Can's superb surge into the limelight, but side two's incessant sonic attack makes it hard to digest, and at times feels a little dated. "Ege Bamyasi" on the other hand is concise, pure and unadulterated Can. More direct, yet maintaining all the funky, darkly psychedelic overtones that makes up their signature sound. As always the foundations are laid down by drummer extraordinaire Jaki Liebezeit, evident immediately with the ferocious rhythmic throat-clearing of "Pinch". "Vitamin C" and "I'm So Green" are a master class in psychedelic funk, extremely physical, raw and energetic and both showcasing Damo Suzuki at his wild best. While "Ege Bamyasi" lacks the flamboyant avant-garde ramblings of "Tago Mago", there is room for experimentation within the extended "Soup", which ends in a flourish of dizzying ambience. And then there's the centre-point, the gloriously sombre and brooding "Sing Swan Song", quite possibly my favourite Can. "Ege Bamyasi" is an album rightly heralded as a pinnacle to the krautrock and 70s experimental movement. Highly recommended.
The first Can LP I ever owned (and sadly the poor UA pressing of that period has not stood the test of time - or too much playing!). To have anew in SACD quality remix is a dream come true.
This was their fourth UK release and came out as the group first toured the UK and in this glorious remastering brings back what an truly innovative group they were both then and still are now. A group of two classically avante garde Stockhausen trained members (Czukay and Schmidt); a German answer to the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia (the sadly deceased Karoli); a jazz drummer whose rhythm style pre-dated drum machines (Liebezeit) and a Korean vocalist who used his vocals (not his voice) as an instrument (Suzuki) was always going to be a heady mix.
The CD features a good mix of shorter items (under 5 minutes) and the much loved "longer workouts" that made their live acts so memorable, being here the challenging (especially as it is the first track) "Pinch" and variety of sonic and World Music flourishes (remembering this is 1972!) of "Soup". On re-hearing here with the greater clarity of remastering the more ear catching and resonating items are the shorter tracks such as "Sing Swan Song" with its water sound opening setting the ethereal tones (I recall John Peel playing on Top Gear one night and stating he hoped all the new German music was going to be as exciting) and "Spoon" a catchy German TV thriller theme and their first single hit!.
Music of this calibre has not been heard since Can's demise (several years later after the release of this disc) and sadly all their later solo efforts would only prove the sum of the parts and the chemistry resulting was what made the magic in the first place.
Only disappointment is the liner notes by David Stubbs - one hopes other contributors will be used for later releases in better putting the original release into original and current context. One still has no idea for example about the history of the photo off the original LP sleeve of a bow tied MC on stage with the group (especially as in the UK it was used in 35mm format as the cover for "Soundtracks"). Even the notes comment on the front cover do not appear to appreciate that it was apparently based on a last minute decision to use a photo of a Turkish canned tin of okra fingers seen in an German foodstore, the producer giving his name to the LP as a result.
This is my favourite album by Can, the album that I think best represents their sound as a whole- that is not to say that albums like Delay 1968, Monster Movie, Soundtracks & Tago Mago are mediocre- very much far from that (though I wonder who wants to listen to Aumgn all the way thru, everytime). Here we have seven tracks, only two- Pinch & Soup- approaching the length of songs like Oh Yeah & Halleluwah from the previous album.
The classic Suzuki-Czuckay-Karoli-Liebezeit-Schmidt line-up make a tighter album than the previous- making songs that could stretch onto infinity into the tightest future funk. The only album that really comes close to this, in terms of percussion and guitar-based freakout, is Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin On.
Sing Swan Song sounds like 1970's Pink Floyd in their dreams, Suzuki possibly seen as what Syd Barrett would have sounded like if he had continued going with a band after Piper at the Gates of Dawn. One More Night has a forward thinking use of the blues, while Vitamin C is one of the three 3minute minimal-funk classics here- the other two are I'm so Green and the closing Spoon (which has found itself onto the soundtrack of the recent Morvern Callar film). The centrepiece here is Soup, which sounds like a blend of psychedelia and world music- Karoli's guitar is particulalry mindblowing once this song gets going - great great stuff...
Ege Bamyasi may be as much a 'head'-album as Tago Mago , but there is also much for the body to gyrate to- this sounds like everything that bands like Happy Mondays & Stone Roses were supposed to promise in the late 1980's/early 1990's. This is a key album of any era and sounds as timeless as ever to this day. A must purchase!
on 12 June 2006
This is THE album that opened my ears in 1973 and revealed unlimited possibilities in rock. It was a heady time with many great bands and amazing records emerging almost daily, but for me "Ege Bamyasi" stood at the top. It's still there.
The Velvet Underground leanings of Can's astonishing debut, "Monster Movie" (1969), had gone by 1972. Even the dark, churning funk of "Tago Mago" (1971) had been pared back to a more zen-trancing groove by the time Can recorded "Ege Bamyasi" in 1972. The howl of feedback that opens the album remains, for me, a defining moment in rock and a clarion call announcing that rock would and should never be the same again. Few listened in 1972 and rock lumbered onwards to its inexorable fate, only to be stripped down and remodeled by the punks in 1976. Little wonder that John Lydon cites Can as an influence. Can were the cyber psycho punks of their day.
If you buy no other Can album, make it this one. It's the least confronting and the most rewarding. It will inveigle its way into your consciousness and refresh you endlessly. Recorded to two-track in Can's hermetic studio the audio quality remains astonishingly good. "Ege Bamyasi" is ageless in every sense. Since its release in 1972, the album continues to sound as if it could have been recorded yesterday. It will, I strongly suspect, remain one of the most relevant and revolutionary recordings of all time.
My favourite Can album, possibly because I heard it first, in 1972 (can it be? Yup); it is great, it STILL sounds great, which is amazing really. It isn't minimalist though, you cannot possibly call a disc THAT when it has 'Soup' on it: 10 minutes of titling, equilibrium-disturbing brilliance ; 'I'm so Green' and 'Sing Swan Song' might be but they are not typical, in any case their lurching rhythms rush and roll in a markedly lively, expansive fashion, the latter somewhat mournful, where 'Green' leads into a beautifully judged disciplined wildness as it builds; very nifty. In fact nothing is predictable from these masters - this is a roiling, psychedelic, surprisingly woozy disc of great ambition and range. The lid is on with Damo Suzuki at his eccentric, brilliant best, 'Pinch' completed with his delightful whimsy at the finale. You can feel these Koln boys taking the Floyd/Velvets/Stockhausen discoveries and really going with them; the bouncy insistent beats, that majestic rhythm section, the tuneful melodies invariably subverted - a trait they share with Faust - the maximal is far more marked than the minimal. It may take you a while to get into the unusual sound but the trance might ease the passing and it's well worth it. A funny, ambitious, marvellous bomb of a record that you really must try; 'Soup' is one of their greatest achievements IMO.. Genius. Addendum 14th May, 2016. Read yesterday mention of this as their best disc; I have noticed a trickle of references in the past two years like this, suggesting that my loving it best of all Can's stuff is shared by others. I'd recommend it as the ideal place to start as it is listenable and rock and roll enough yet unmistakenly avant garde too - NOT a trick pulled off by many groups. Ever.
on 24 June 2005
When Can released Future Days in 1973 they completed one of the great hat-tricks in Rock history. Few bands have ever produced three albums of the quality of Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days one after the other. Fewer still have done it in the space of three years - The Beatles' Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sergeant Pepper spring to mind, and although some may grumble, mentioning Can in such exalted company is far from heretical; at their best Can are one of the greatest bands of all time. These albums represent the pinnacle of Can's career and document the evolution and refinement of the band's unique sound.
The original conception of the band was to produce music that was a kind of Jazz/avant garde/Rock hybrid, but somehow during the band's genesis they must have stumbled across the fluid sound that characterises their best songs. The embellishments of the music stop it being true funk; it is too avant-garde to be classified as that. Having said that, it's far more accessible than much avant garde music, and although it shares improvisatory elements with Jazz, the music's character and feel is definitely more Rock than anything.
The frantic period of creativity that saw the band release the (at times) challenging and eclectic Tago Mago (1971), the transitional Ege Bamyasi (1972) and the ultimate distillation of the classic Can sound, Future Days (1973) was presumably inspired -largely it would seem, anyway - by the addition of Damo Suzuki to the line-up. Before this, Monster Movie (1969) had shown considerable promise in inspirational moments, but the whole of the Can ideal really seemed to find expression through Suzuki.
As the middle album of this great trio, Ege Bamyasi is obviously a very interesting record from the point of view of illustrating the way the music of Can was refined from the raw, fierce, explorations of Tago Mago to the tightly focused excellence of Future Days. In this sense, the pivotal track on the album is probably 'Soup'. Although the song lasts for over 10 minutes and mutates through various phases in a way not dissimilar to Tago Mago's 'Peking O', it never loses the listener. On this occasion the band might be off exploring new musical worlds, but you're invited along too, whereas on 'Peking O' you were pretty much left behind. Yes, there are some moments of choice Damo Suzuki screaming and some avant noodling, but there are also moments of dazzling clarity, where Can's musical dexterity is abundantly evident, not something that can be said of Tago Mago's more 'difficult' moments.
The only other reasonably lengthy track on this album is the thrilling 'Pinch', which succeeds in taking the rolling rhythms of a song like 'Halleluhwah' and streamlining and tightening them still further, into something Curtis Mayfield or Sly Stone would be proud of. The gentle, almost lilting, 'Sing Swan Song' meanwhile, gives a pleasing taster of the mellow warmth to come on Future Days, and the peripatetic shake of 'One More Night' prefigures that album's 'Moonshake'. 'Vitamin C' is more reminiscent of some of Tago Mago's darker moments, and carries a sense of threat and discomfort that is continued into the next track, 'Soup'.
These darker moments are swept away by the bright opening of 'I'm So Green', which arrives with an almost Funkadelic strut before drifting into more esoteric pastures. The pleasing sway of the outstanding 'Spoon' closes the album; interestingly, this track actually made it to number 1 in Germany, not due to any radical re-think of musical policy on the band's behalf (i.e. 'selling out'), but because it featured as the theme tune to a popular TV drama.
As all this shows, this is very much an album that links two great works, but that really shouldn't detract from the quality of the album in its own right. It's neither Can's best, nor most immediately accessible album (Future Days is probably both), but it's one of those albums that just flies by when you put it on and seems to leave you wanting more of the same. After Future Days it's probably the best place to sample Can's music because it tempers the excesses of Tago Mago while showing the lightness of touch of Future Days. So, if you can't get your hands on that, or you want an album of more manageable, bite-size songs, this is a good buy.
That this is probably only the third best Can album says more about this great and fascinating band than I ever could, so all I can do is recommend you find out how good they are for yourself.