Quality: 4.5 out of 5Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5On Tago Mago we find the band at the start of their three album peak with Damo Suzuki. This is the band's first (and if we don't count the odds-and-sods Unlimited Edition, only) double album.
The cover features what is actually a pretty smart visual pun for 'blowin' your brains' out. It certainly works better that the crappy title puns the band would later use (' Saw Delight,' ' Flow Motion,' blah!)Tago Mago almost becomes an exception to the 'double-album-that-could've-been-a-single' rule. There's a little bit too much experimentation on the second disc to make it, but it's usually interesting and the first disc is an absolute masterpiece.The album opens with what is basically a three song suite of 'Paperhouse,' 'Mushroom,' and 'Oh Yeah.'
While the band is uniformily strong, pretty much the entire first LP is a showcase for drummer Jaki Leibezeit. By this point he takes his place as one of the very best drummers in rock. The CD reissue liner notes speak of 'Paperhouse' taking off and levitating, and for once this is not hyperbole. Leibezeit along with Karoli's perculating rhythm and some interstellar stabs from Schmidt's keys make the song really take off, glide above the ground, pick up speed, and slam into 'Mushroom.'
The groove here is so infectious that the Flaming Lips would pretty much rip off the song wholesale twenty years later on their track 'Take Meta Mars.' Suzuki mumbles right through these songs glorious, stumbling gleefully through languages and gibberish and ranting about peeing off a bridge in Japanese (at least that how my wife translates it). By 'Oh, Yeah,' Damo gets the chance to emote backwards and does a damn successful job of it. Fsx missions downloads.
It doesn't hurt that Holger Czukay and Leibzeit accompany him at their metronomic best as Karoli and Schmmidt provide aural window dressing.' Halleluwah' takes up the entire second side at almost 19 minutes but never gets boring despite its epic length. Leibezeit manages about the most complicated beat that I imagine you could play in 4/4 time and the song still manages to be the funkiest track that anyone from Germany has ever produced. Our majestic moment her occurs when the beat briefly drops out, with the band shortly plunging back in at full lurch.
'Halleluwah' might be a tiny notch below 'Mother Sky' from Soundtracks, but being second to that track is still nothing to sneeze at.The second LP of Tago Mago is a bit of a step down. There are lots of interesting ideas present but the band's modern compositional tendancies come to the fore and as good as these guys are, they're not Gyorgy Legiti or Steve Reich. 'Aumgn' creates some soundscapes that would make for some great music to go along with Captain Kirk and Spock on the exploration of a new styrofoam planet, with lots of oscillated tones and Suzuki's delayed and reverbed mutterings before Leibzeit comes back in on the last few minutes to give another great demonstration of his drumming prowess. 'Peking O' unfortunately drops Leibezeit's drumming, but Suzuki sounds creepier than hell and I love the moment where it sounds like he literally snaps and starts spewing forth high-speed gibberish.
In fact the only thing here that resembles a song is the closing 'Bring Me Coffee Or Tea,' which is sort of like an after dinner mint.Can's magnum opus may be a little impenetrable at times, but it's worth the effort. If you're new to the band, I'd spend some time with the more immediate first half before delving into the mysterious din of 'Amugn' or 'Peking O.' Reese Wilsonsaid.Thank you Dr. Schluss for your review of Tago Mago. This is probably one of my most favorite records. I think it is one of the ultimate trip records ever. Every time I drive down DXM drive I often listen to this record and Soundtracks (Amazingly, Soul Desert is decent when high, well At least to my ears).
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This record always transports me to strange vistas that are beautiful in their Lovecraftian Distortion. Absolutely perfect in my book, includeing aumgn and Peking O. Schluss will you ever be reviewing various Artist Complilation?
Guest blogger Raphael Gouin Loubert gives a track by track rundown of an album very close to my own heart, CAN's Tago Mago.Want to know how I first discovered Krautrock?Tago Mago by CAN. A monumental piece of Krautrock, with each musician at their peak, playing very tightly from beginning to end.The successive CAN albums Tago Mago/Ege Bamyasi/Future Days are the holy trinity for me, but Tago stands out as the greatest.
I know this album by heart, even the timeless Aumgn, and Halleluwah is probably the song I have listened to the most in my life.PaperhouseThe album starts with sounds sampled from the beginning of Aumgn, then beautiful modulated guitar chords lead the song with nice subtle keyboard backing. Then the drums accelerate and the groove starts with an awesome solo from Karoli. A pretty psych and catchy song!MushroomPaperhouse ends and Mushroom immediately starts. Drums lead this song, it sounds distant but so trashy and precise. This is probably Can’s most strange/eerie song since Monster Movie’s Father Cannot Yell, but nothing compared to what is to come.Oh YeahThe song starts with what sounds like an atomic explosion! Then another amazing tight groove kicks in, with keyboard chords floating behind it all.
This one is different from Paperhouse as it sounds so mysterious, out of this world, and hypnotic.HalleluwahIn my opinion the best Krautrock song ever made. A nice long jam led by Czukay’s bass and Liebezeit’s drums. Interesting how the drummer uses silence to lock the beat (just after he hits the hi-hat). Everything goes crazy in the last 3 minutes or so with sounds reminding me of a mental breakdown!AumgnAumgn starts with what sounds like guitar paired with tape echo, then some weird chords (violin I think), until a strange voice starts mumbling 'augmn'.
It goes on for several minutes with some electronic effects and a bit of percussion. Around half way the drums enter slowly until the climax where again the track goes wild and fast until the end.Peking OThe beginning and end of the song is very nice, but the middle section is plain psych/random speaking and jamming, it’s a bit hard to listen to. It's the weakest title of the album because of that, but you can see that the band set no limits when they recorded this album.Bring Me Coffee Or TeaThe album closes with a nice, warm ballad with (finally) a bit of acoustic guitar that reminds me of the song. Everyone is jamming on their own in this song but they complete themselves so well! Past half way the song accelerates and Karoli brings out the electric guitar, with the song closing in a wave of cymbals.Every Krautrock initiate should start with this album; it’s more conventional than Faust, less electronic than Tangerine Dream and so different from the US/British rock/prog of that era. Tago Mago is definitely in my top 3 Krautrock albums along with Popol Vuh - In Den Garten Pharaos and Tangerine Dream - Zeit.Raphael Gouin LoubertMore album reviews from Raphael Radiohead'sEddy's full rundown of Can albums From Worst To Best.
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