Czukay once described his band as an "electric symphony group", and the heavily edited and structured "Bel Air" betrays a dedication to long-form statements and an almost painterly sense of blended colors and landscapes.
After trying out several singers, Can eventually decided to keep things to themselves for Soon Over Babaluma , as Karoli took over vocals in most cases, with Schmidt helping from time to time.
Due to circumstances, the record sounds obviously transitional, and was in fact the last one Can would complete using their tried and true straight-to-stereo method, before upgrading to more modern, multi-track methods afterwards. His refrain of "got to get it up, got to get it over" serves the insistent, space-bounce of the track, and though the band would misstep on world music attempts in later years, this was pretty interesting.
The murky electro-bossa "Come sta, La Luna" is also cool, featuring Schmidt's vocals and ominous piano lines. Only "Splash" leaves me underwhelmed, seeming tired and directionless in comparison to the rest of the record. Given the nature of the collection, a general lack of cohesion is to be expected, but for my money, Unlimited Edition is one of the most underrated items in the band's catalog. From the heavenly climates of "Gomorrha" and "Ibis", to the more cutting, rock-edged tracks with Malcolm Mooney "The Empress and the Ukraine King", "Mother Upduff", "Connection", "Fall of Another Year"-- all of which could have comprised a classic EP to the sometimes bizarre, sometimes funny "Ethnological Forgery Series", wherein Can raid the world's various indigenous music and make stuff that would make both Steve Reich and Boredoms proud.
And of course there's "Cutaway": an epic, spliced-together piece that might sound more at home on a Faust record than here. However, what might have sounded like a godsend to fans craving as much Can magic as they could get didn't quite turn out as we expected.
Gone were the epic, funky ambient songs or minimalist rock experiments in favor of some pretty straightforward jam-band tunes.
Luckily, his guitar is front and center, though it was clear the band weren't playing space age physics music anymore. I give Can credit for having the chops to pull it off, but did I really need to hear them do it? The minute sound-art closer "Unfinished" doesn't really fit with the rest of the record, but does at least give Can the chance to stretch out their most experimental ideas into 16 tracks, and is reminiscent of "Cutaway" or some of the more out-there moments on Tago Mago.
Guitar is back after 5 minutes ripping it up. Percussion and guitar lead the rest of the way. Lots of experimental sounds before it settles down 2 minutes in. Guitar and piano rise out of the spacey atmosphere briefly 11 minutes in. This is a trip! CAN's last great album in my opinion and a well deserved 4 stars.
Once again, we have an album of nice, slightly deranged Euro-tunes, driven along by Jaki Liebezeit's frenetic percussion tracks. And I must admit, I find guitarist Michael Karoli's solos much more pleasing to my ears than on most other Can albums. There seems to be a consensus that "Vernal Equinox" and "Unfinished" are the best tracks on this album, but I keep going back to "Hunters And Collectors" as my favorite, probably for it's eeriness. I can't help thinking, when listening to "Unfinished", that Can was the inspiration for David Bowie for the sound collage pieces on his Berlin albums.
I like Can's results much better. Plus, you don't have to listen to Bowie's pop songs to get to them. There's quite a lot of stuff here that is really weird. Vernal Equinox and Red Hot Indians are experimental jazz you should reserve for moments when you're really relaxed and comfortable. Due to the demanding nature of the music they are certainly not recommended when you've got a concentration demanding task on your hands.
Both catchy and direct. Unfinished is more abstract and absolutely stunning. Easily 4 stars for this album that opened the Can for me. Stylistically the music on "Stranded" is very similar to the music on "Soon Over Babaluma ".
So all in all an album that leaves me a bit biased. Some parts are pretty great but it ultimately lacks the magic that the best albums by the band feature. Whereas Jaki and Holger are relatively subdued during the rest of the album they no longer stand out as the most robotic rhythm machine in the world , here they get to sound like, I dunno, like the Deep Purple rhythm section in a particularly good performance of the jam section of "Space Trucking" with the added bonus that Jaki gets to spend some time playing with his futuristic proto-electronic drum sounds.
In other words, really fast, and really tight. Karoli and Schmidt, meanwhile, just go absolutely nuts on this track as foils towards one another, especially Karoli this album may arguably be his peak with the band who gets to abrasively shred like he had never been fully given the chance to before. The album, frankly, is worth picking up if only for this track. The Moody Blues. Pink Floyd. How to Order. International Shipping.
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