Can, Ege Bamyasi (1972)

Can, 'Ege Bamyasi' (1972)Ege Bamyasi is the fourth album by Krautrock pioneers Can, first released in 1972. This is the one with the picture of a can of okra on the cover -- a playful reference to the band’s name.

Although I also dig Can’s earlier, more obviously avant-garde or “psychedelic” LPs, I tend to play those less frequently than Ege Bamyasi and other so-called “classic”-era discs, records which on the whole are comparatively less noisy and a bit more focused sounding.

That career turn began in part with the band’s prior release, the brilliant double-LP Tago Mago (1971), although that one still has a few a those free-form “freak outs” along the way that interrupt the flow. By contrast, Ege Bamyasi presents seven relatively more accessible tracks, even producing the band’s first top 10 single in Germany.

A short burst of feedback heralds the opening track, the nine-plus minute “Pinch.” The song presents a highly funky, Electric Miles era-type groove over which Damo Suzuki, the band’s Japanese lead singer, improvises nonsensical word associations (in English).

The next track, “Sing Swan Song,” begins with the sound of running water, followed by a soft, lullaby-like tune that gradually fades up to reveal what sounds a bit like an incantation amid its many layers of effects-laden guitars. By contrast, the driving “One More Night” that closes out Side One features crisper-sounding clarity, with harmonics propelling the tune forward not unlike an Eno-era Talking Heads track.

Side Two begins with a moody number titled “Vitamin C” in which Suzuki enigmatically croons to someone about losing his or her vitamin C (a symbol for strength?). The track throbs along, giving Can’s legendary bassist Holger Czukay lots of room to caper about, before finally resolving into the uncanny electronic warbling that becomes the next dish, the ten-plus minute “Soup.” After a few minutes of percussive head-bopping, “Soup” slips back into the avant-garde, with an extended sequence of weird chirrups, crashes, sirens, and shouting.

All is made nice again, though, with “I’m So Green,” a track whose super catchy, toe-tapping vibe evokes thoughts of a band of hipsters sneakily sauntering down some trippy sidewalk. The LP then concludes with “Spoon” -- the single -- which begins with metronome-like clicking over a vaguely Eastern sounding organ, then builds into yet another fun, trance-like slice of Krautrockin’ pop.

Julian Cope, the post-punk rocker who has authored an entire book on the musical genre Can helped to launch (Krautrocksampler), refers to Ege Bamyasi as “the closest to a pop LP that Can ever got,” full of “clear cut songs with grooves of delightful melody and moment, plus a teen-appeal that still leaves me gasping with love for Damo Suzuki.”

There are other Can titles that demonstrate a similar accessibility, but Ege Bamyasi may indeed be the most consistently “poppy” of the bunch. A good place to start, I’d say, if looking for somewhere to open your first Can.

No comments:

Post a Comment