9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Krautrock par excellence!, 27 Aug. 2002
Tago Mago (1970) is Can's second album proper and finds them perfecting the art of improvisation (normally a very very bad thing in rock music)coupled with precise and eminently funky musicianship. The album opens with 'Paperhouse',which shifts from a relatively gentle opening into a frenzied rhythm fest freakout: a Can speciality. The band's worst excesses were edited out by Holger Czukay, the band's erstwhile bassist, which is a good thing as it means that even though some of the songs on 'Tago' are lengthy, not a single note is wasted. The philosophy of 'less is more' is typified on the second track 'Mushroom' which is basically Damo Suzuki muttering over a drum track drenched in reverb. That is until he starts screaming and white noise erupts from both keys and guitar! Magic! The album moves on by taking a different tack; "Oh Yeah"'s incessant drumming and bassline coupled with Suzuki's backward vocals broodily rise to a false climax, or calm at the centre of the storm, before starting again (vocals right way round). Mark E. Smith of the Fall would use the same phrasing from this track on 1985's Can tribute track "I Am Damo Suzuki". "Halleluwah" follows. Words fail me. Genius. This is truly timeless music. The STone Roses and Mondays surely copied this stuff wholesale. They didn't update it or revamp it; in fact the Can originals sound fresher than anything their modern impersonators could come up with! Eighteen and a half minutes of falling in love!
Can could also be incredibly self indulgent: for evidence see "Aumgn" and "Peking O". Both are very difficult tracks; almost formless shifting in jabs and sparks towards a never-obviuos conclusion. These tracks don't appeal so much although thy are good and show the other side of Can: the wilder untamed beast that could play single tracks for upwards of 45 minutes at gigs.
There is no such thing as a perfect album, everything is flawed in some way. The reason for that is so that in six months time I can tell you that I have grown to love "Aumgn" and it's the best thing since sliced bread. And vice versa, tracks I now love will seem simplistic and overworked! And then I can love the whole thing all over again!
There is so much to love on 'Tago Mago' that it is easy to forgive the odd excess or indulgence. Listen to it and grow to love it until you see the world reflected in a new way! Reflected in a Can!