Germany - Full Moon 104 - 03/25/05
Tago Mago remastered
The idea of the truly great 'jam band' holds mythical status for me. To be honest, I find the process of making music pretty tedious - apart, that is, from the moment of musical creation. I simply love just jamming with people, and when something really locks in, you're on cloud nine for those precious moments.
But to sustain that atmosphere of group exploration and communication you've got to be a band like Can. OK, post-production sweat was poured into making these records, and now their pristine remastered versions, but the awesome music was all there in the first place: the sexy metronomic drum beats that pound away forever; the melodic flourishes of bass, organ and guitar; and, of course, Damo Suzuki's gorgeous otherwordly vocal meanderings. (I had the honour of bumping into Suzuki at a Tortoise gig in Melbourne a few weeks ago and just went to pieces. I mumbled some crap about what a pleasure it was to meet him, and then stumbled off for a drunken piss. He's a lovely guy.)
Of all the Can records I've heard, Tago Mago is easily my favourite. This is partly down to the fact I had a scratchy copy on tape a few years back that a friend recorded for me on the flipside of Hit to Death in the Future Head by The Flaming Lips. What a cassette! Sadly my friend couldn't fit the complete Tago Mago on one side of a C90, so it's only now that I can enjoy the full record.
And what a record. Its two halves are very different, but meld together into a monumental whole. The first half is much more accessible, with the song structures flowing perfectly, and the dynamic of the band cutting through beautifully on this remastered version. And then the second half gets trippy in the best possible way, as Can take your ears and bathe them in washes of synth, fry them in cut ups of tape loops, and throw in jabbering dollops of musique concrète.
The first half will win you over straight off, no question. But give the second half enough time and you'll be with them all the way. Never has a jam band been able to take you places like this. This gets my highest recommendation.
Copyright © 2005 Tim Clarke