Can, a band synonymous with the Progressive Rock movement in the early 1970s, but whose influence carries on, some 40 years later. When music was undergoing a major metamorphosis, as the 60s were drawing to a close, bands from other countries, playing other styles, combining a wide range of influences, started popping up on the stage and in the studio.
Of all the seemingly unlikely places for the grand re-think of Rock Music to emerge, Germany seemed by far to be the most unlikely – and even more unlikely; the marriage of electronic music and Rock which, though hinted at from some bands both in the U.S. and Britain, was being embraced with a vengeance in Germany. Germany was one of the places much Electronic music got its start – many of the Avant-Garde were flocking to Germany, and experimenting was the key ingredient. But electronic music was different in the 1950s and 1960s than it is today. Back then, it was the sole property and offshoot of Classical Music – it was the experimental side of things. Pioneering figures in Electronic Music at the time were people like Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the founders of Can were students of Stockhausen for a while. Electronic music, during those formative years was almost a scientific, rather than musical pursuit. And it was Can who saw the possibilities of freeing up the restrictions inherent with Electronic Music, and applying them to the principles of Rock and Jazz that suddenly the landscape changed and Electronica as we know it now, would evolve.
In 1975, Can was also going through changes. Getting away from their heavily experimental sound, the band was exploring different rhythms – taking World Music (notably from Africa and Latin America) and Jazz into account. What came out was a more commercially accessible sound, but also one which laid the groundwork for bands to copy over the years.
This session, done for John Peel at the BBC, comes around the time Can’s milestone Soon Over Babaluma was issued as well as the follow-up album Landed. They signified a huge departure from the days of Damo Suzuki and the-then landmark album Ege Bamyasi which established them as one of the premier experimental bands in the world. In many ways it was more experimental and more avant-garde than previous albums, but it was also the most accessible to most listeners.
Can are still, even in 2016, looked at as one of the pioneering bands that changed the musical landscape of the 1970s – for the most part, their music is still fresh – and this session, recorded some 41 years ago, offers ample proof of just that.
If you’re new to Can, and want to listen to more – they have most of their commercial output still available. And it’s suggested you seriously check them out to hear just how influential they have been over the years.
In any event, just crank it up and enjoy it.