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This album, featuring Can's contributions to five separate film soundtracks, was recorded in late 1969 (the two tracks featuring original Can vocalist Malcolm Mooney) and late Spring/Summer 1970 (the remainder featuring his replacement, Damo Suzuki). But in the circumstances, it hangs together quite well as an album, having all been recorded in the same place on the same equipment.

The opening three tracks from the film Deadlock include vocal and instrumental versions of a tune that, unlike everything else here, is an obvious film theme, though with Michael Karoli's exquisitely distorted guitar to the fore, along with a quite accessible song, Tango Whiskyman, which is good but not their greatest. The excellent Don't Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone is the first Can song to feature the four descending semitones that they returned to on many occasions throughout their career, both live and in the studio, and features some superb latin-inflected drumming from Jaki Liebezeit. Soul Desert is a terrifyingly bleak, minimalist howl of anguish from Mooney and clearly foretells the breakdown that led to him leaving Can and returning to the USA a few weeks later.

The 14 minute Mother Sky is the first really great track Can recorded with Damo Suzuki and combines full on guitar rock (one of Michael Karoli's finest performances) with their hypnotic rhythmic pulse to brilliant effect. The track has been edited from a clearly much longer recording and the seamless, if obvious, edits add structure and changes of mood to a track that motors on at the same tempo for its entire length. On top of this, they've added some highly effective drum overdubs, dropping "bombs" into one of the most hypnotic sections. The whole track, musically brilliant as it is, is also a tour de force of recording and editing - all done with a couple of 2-track machines, an editing block and a razorblade by bassist Holger Czukay.

Finally, and perhaps most atypically, we return to (a much happier) Malcolm Mooney for the lovely She Brings The Rain, a cute sixties pop song with a slightly jazzy feel, no drums and quite psychedelic lyric. One could almost imagine The Lovin' Spoonful recording it; it's one of very, very few Can recordings that look back musically in any obvious way, though none the worse for that.

This album isn't the pinnacle of Can's career by any means, but it does contain one of their greatest tracks in the awesome Mother Sky and the rest of it varies from good to excellent. It's probably a good place to start for the uninitiated, being far more accessible, for instance, than their next album, the astounding but at times extremely weird Tago Mago.

For any Can fans who already have the earlier CD issue of this album, I'd say get rid of it and buy this - the remaster is fabulous, revealing some amazing sub-bass booms in Mother Sky, greatly improving the timbre of the guitar on Deadlock and generally being far brighter, punchier and more detailed than the earlier edition.
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on 13 April 2013
Many, many years ago (late 70s, early 80s) I used to travel to Walthamstow each Saturday morning to buy my records from Small Wonder. What a great shop it was. I used to spend ages in there choosing which records I would buy that weekend. One Saturday, there was this amazing track playing out of the speakers. I asked what it was and was told it was Mother Sky and it was by a group called Can. I had ever heard of the group, had no idea who they were but I just had to buy it and never regretted it.
On the way home I studied the album cover and the only clue to who the band were was the strange group photo on the back. Yes, Mother Sky is possibly Can's best moment but possibly one of the best tracks ever - I never tire listening too it. Around this time tracks were relatively short (around the time of punk/new wave) and so it was different for me to listen to a track of around 14 minutes, but it never lets up, right from the start. Michael Karoli's guitar playing is stupendous but the other members contribute throughout and it is a wonderful jam throughout.
I also enjoy all the other tracks. At the time this was music that I had not heard before and only later realised the influences on other bands that I had been listening to, PIL, The Fall, Siouxsie and The Banshees.
I never tire of listening to this album - for me it is perfect. After this I purchased other Can albums but Soundtracks remains my favourite. if you have never heard anything by Can, then this is a good place to start.
As for Small Wonder, it is no longer there, it closed around 1983-1984. However, I have fond memories of my times spent there.
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'Soundtracks', like several other titles in the Can-back-catalogue, is now reissued in what is a defintive form - in a cute case and with a sound that is vastly improved than the prior Grey Area/Spoon-version.
'Soundtracks' followed 'Monster Movie' (1969) and the delayed 'Delay 1968' (released 1981)- listening to those two prior to this makes more sense, before moving onto the key Can-titles 'Tago Mago' (1971),'Ege Bamyasi' (1972), 'Future Days' (1973) & 'Soon Over Babaluma' (1974). I don't know if these are soundtracks to films, or imaginary soundtracks, or imaginary soundtracks to imaginary films (...I really should learn more about Can, bizarrely I just know several albums and not much else!). The films to which these songs soundtrack include 'Deadlock','Cream','Madchen Mit Gewalt', 'Deep End' & 'Bottom - Ein Grober Graublaeur Vogel.'
Two of the songs have a vocal from original Can-singer Michael Mooney - 'Soul Desert' (later a title for a track on Julian Cope's 'Jehovahkill') & 'She brings the rain'- the latter a track which feels quite jazzy after the primal meltdown of 'Mother Sky' - sounds like Ry Cooder after Krautrock. Several other tracks feature Mooney's replacement Damo Suzuki on vocals- I like Mooney's vocals, but plump for Suzuki's - perhaps as it sounds like a language I know and don't know at the same time? Damo sings opener 'Deadlock', the Doors-in-Space of 'Tango Whiskeyman', 'Don't Turn the Light On...' & the epic 'Mother Sky' ('Deadlock- titlemusic' is an instrumental).
All these tracks are moving towards the styles explored on the subsequent albums - you can hear tracks like 'Halleluwah' & 'I'm So Green' in tracks like 'Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone' & 'Mother Sky.' Which leads me to...
MOTHER SKY!!!!! - which was the reason I bought the album in its prior version, being familiar with Loop's cover-version around 'Fade Out.' This is 14.30 of full on Krautrock, heavily influenced by The Velvet Underground - whose 'Sister Ray' it is in fact a response to (The Modern Lovers would also offer a response in the form of 'Roadrunner'). It's slightly off kilter, and reminds me a little of The Stooges as well - perhaps sounding like 'Funhouse' & 'Faust IV' playing at the same time, at times? It's hypnotic and full-on, and with 'Halleluwah' provides us with Can's great epic tracks that seem to never end (as you never want them to end). Sometimes a track can't be too long - 'Halleluwah', 'Sister Ray', 'Mother Sky', 'The Private Psychedelic Reel','Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road','Echoes', 'Ecstasy Symphony/Transparent Radiation', 'Spanish Key','Achilles Last Stand', 'Station to Station', 'Safesurfer', 'Soon' (and on and on...)
'Soundtracks' more than stands up alongside the potent-back-catalogue from 'Monster Movie' to somewhere around *'Unlimited Edition'/'Landed'/'Flowmotion' (* usually around the point where Can-records are seen as less vital...). Fantastic head-music, taking rock to inner space, and sounding better than ever too!
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on 4 January 2008
The reason I entitled this review as "Experimental Heaven" is because Can in this album have taken some simple mainstream musical techniques and twisted them with their own unique blend of creativity to make something unlike most other bands will ever perform.

As said by others, his album is worth buying purely for the beautifully hypnotic "Mother Sky" which throughout my 25+ years interest in music, has stood out as the most mesmerising and exquisite example of an ability to take the listener to a musical realm that many bands cannot. The album does have a psychedelic undertone, but do not let that put you off if that is not your area - the basic creativity of this album makes it a many layered delight.
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on 31 March 2002
Soundtracks might be put down as just for Can completists if it were not for track 6 "Mother Sky", all 14min and 30sec of it. Some of the late Michael Karolis' finest playing is to heard on this one track together with some inspired percussion and a typical Damo Suzuki breathy-dream vocal. Priceless stuff with a killer groove. I can't believe this was recorded just for a movie!
And the rest?
2 tracks from the Deadlock movie - not typical Can and you probably have to see the movie ( If any one has?!)
Tango Whiskyman and Don't turn the light on are more typical Damo period Can - Ok, but not outstanding by their standards.
1st Can vocalist Malcom Mooney gives it some on Soul Desert. If Monster Movie was your favourite Can album then you'll want to hear this too. Finally, there is She Brings the Rain. Mr Mooney again on what might be an average walking blues song but with Holger Czukay painfully attempting to play a structured and very rigid bassline it couldn't be average if it tried - and there's some very pretty/normal guitar from Herr Karoli too. I honestly can't tell if the fiddle/viola on this is Michael again or Irmin Shmidt distorting the hell out of his Farfisa organ!
Never mind - play Mother Sky again.
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on 11 January 2006
Can’s claim to immortality rests largely on the hat-trick of stunning albums they released between 1971 and 1973 – Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days – but there are other good things to be found in their back catalogue if one takes the time to look. Their debut album, Monster Movie, was released in 1969 and featured their original American vocalist, Malcolm Mooney. It has moments of genius – not least the barmy rereading of ‘Mary, Mary So Contrary’ – but its brilliance is patchy in comparison to the creative peak they hit in the early ’70s.
To be fair, much the same can be said of Soundtracks, the album created after Monster Movie, and consisting of tracks composed for various (largely forgotten) films which only keyboardist Irmin Schmidt had seen at the time (the modus operandi was that he gave the other band members roughly drawn storyboards of the films, and then left it to their compositional and improvisatory skills). This somewhat hare-brained approach to musical creativity is typical of much Krautrock, and the upshot is obviously that all the musical ideas are filtered through Schmidt’s impression of the films. This, the fact that soundtrack albums are often disjointed affairs anyway, and the fact that the album was made during the period where Mooney left the band and Damo Suzuki joined, all make Soundtracks something of a mish-mash.
The core of this album lies in just two songs: ‘“Don’t turn the Light on,” leave me alone’ and ‘Mother Sky’. Mooney’s last two contributions to Can – ‘Soul Desert’ and ‘She Brings The Rain’ – are both pretty decent numbers, mining the same vein as Monster Movie’s ‘Yoo Doo Right’ and drawing on Can’s jazz background respectively, but they lack the magic that the group really found with Suzuki. This is exemplified in the relatively understated ‘“Don’t turn the Light on…”’, where Suzuki’s soon-to-be-familiar mangled syntax and cryptic lyrics combine to add a further air of mystery to Can’s already enigmatic music. The track seems to throb with suspense, riding on Holgar Czukay’s darkly expressive bass line, without ever exploding in the way it seems to be threatening to. As an example of sustained tension, it’s hard to top, and it also underlines the difference between Can with Damo Suzuki, and Can without: the music the band created with him onboard has a distinctive, tough, elasticity; something that was far less obvious in their work with Mooney.
The album’s centrepiece, of course, is the much lauded ‘Mother Sky’. For once, the praise is justified, and here there’s certainly no sustained tension, this is a full-blown post-psychedelic freak out. The song just erupts into life and doesn’t let up for the entirety of its near fifteen minute duration. Although the song operates in a recognisably Can-like way – i.e. it locks into a groove and maintains it throughout – it seems to be even more unrestrained than Can’s other, similar, work. The guitars here seem more strident, the rhythms even more frantic, giving the song greater ferocity than even this mighty band usually managed. The playing is typically excellent, but the shrieking guitar, pummelling rhythm and frenetic pace make this song a very different beast to the laid back, slowly unfurling funkiness of ‘Halleluhwah’. Obviously, the track’s sheer length, and its mildly unhinged feel – again aided by Suzuki’s lyrics and vocals – make it a direct predecessor of the likes of ‘Pinch’, ‘Halleluhwah’ and ‘Paperhouse’, but it seems less obviously forward-looking than much of the work from their early ‘70s heyday, instead echoing the likes of Iron Butterfly or late ‘60s Pink Floyd at times, albeit given a very Can makeover. To this day, the band’s typically focused performance still makes the music utterly compelling in a way that the likes of Pink Floyd’s never was. Much of Can’s genius lays in their playing, and the sheer attack here is what drives the music along, largely diverting the attention away from these influences. If that sounds like a quibble, it really isn’t, because although this track might seem a little less visionary than the music that would follow on Tago Mago, it clearly signposts where the band were heading once Suzuki joined, and because it’s performed by a band as unconventional as Can it seems fresher and much less clichéd than a lot of other music of the time.
Great as ‘Mother Sky’ and ‘“Don’t turn the Light on…”’ undoubtedly are, the album’s real weakness is that it is a collection of disparate songs and ideas, rather than a unified whole created organically in the way that the best Can albums were – for instance, ‘Aumgm’ or ‘Peking O’ from Tago Mago might not make for easy listening, but they feel as though they need to be there; this album would lose little if the likes of ‘Tango Whiskyman’ or ‘Deadlock’ were excised. As a result, it gives the impression of being a stopgap – which is essentially what it was – rather than a ‘proper’ album. Of course, listening to Can marking time is far more interesting than listening to most bands striving for perfection, but as a whole album it’s hard to describe this as essential listening. It’s not the best place to start discovering Can and will largely – and probably rightly – be bought by people simply for the two best tracks here, and fortunately for those buyers ‘Mother Sky’ alone is worth the price of admission.
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on 18 December 2014
Excellent album, and on vinyl a very nice pressing, ignore those that say anything different.

Worth buying just to hear Mother Sky blasting from your turntable. But the other tunes are also excellent
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on 14 August 2005
The reason most Can fans seek out "Soundtracks" is the 14 minute epic "Mother Sky, famously the bands musical response to the Velvet Undergrounds (inferior) "Sister Ray". "Mother Sky" is possiby the pinnacle of the Can experience, opening with some of Michael Karoli's most spurious and furious riffing before settling into the main groove where vocalist Dami Suzuki throws some more seemingly non-senseical hippy meanderings at the listener.
At 14 minutes "Mother Sky" alone justifies the entry fee, at 14 minutes its easy to dedicate the whole review to the one track, but that would be indulging in fuitility as words alone can never do any justice to its glory!!
There are other tracks on this album and they too can be quite fantastic. "Deadlock" opens with familiar sounding acid rock riffing ala Cream era Clapton, and "Tango Whiskeyman" is yet another Can back catalogue high point. Dreamy, breezy and melodic the song even has a chorus, lead by Karoli's descending and tender guitar melody that pre-dates Terry Bicker (House of Love) by 20 years.
"Soundtracks" though, is not an album proper as such, it is yes, a collection of various film Soundtracks which the band had been commisioned over ther years. Consequently it features both vocalists Malcomn Mooney and the aforementioned Damo Suzuki, consequently many of the tracks end rather abruptly (probably where the original film scene ended) much to the records detrement. Furthur criticismn of the LP is "She brings the Rain", Can try to sound ordinary and in the process write the worst song of there career.
Not the best place to start your journey into the wonderful world of Can (Ege Bamyasi is), but definitlely a record that every self respecting Krautrock fan must own and love.
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on 15 January 2005
I only heard this album the once at a friend's house but will purchase it right away. Chilled yet not boring. Great instrumental bits and bobs. Never heard of Can before. Must hear more.
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