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Can - Tago Mago CD (album) cover





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4 stars Can - Tago Mago (1971)

A breakthrough on many fronts...

Tago Mago is the most controversial of their 'classic period'. Originally released as a double lp it had a strange structure. The first side has three psycho-beat/acid-rock/proto-punk/krautrock tracks, side two had the 18 minute Hallelujah that was basically a jam on just one rhythm with all influences of side one and some extra space influences. Side three was 17 minutes of pure horror soundscapes that would drive most people you know mad and side four has yet another 12 minutes of out-of-the-box experimentation and on shorter gentle track. As you can see by now, this is a very progressive ground-braking concept! I myself think the idea of Can must have been to make a great single record (lp1, side 1 and 2) and give some extra highly unusual experiments on the second lp. Therefore the second lp is far less accessible then the first one. I'll describe both record more accurate now.

The songs on side 1 and 2 all have an abstract psychedelic feel with intense vocals, the best of rhythms with perfect cooperation of drums and bass (Can is the most rhythmical prog act of the history in opinion) and acid like guitars with lot's of distortion. The vocals are confronting, especially on the acid Mushroom that is a song which rhythmic session can still be called modern today, but the vocals are way to extreme for today's standards. Somehow some things Can did never aged and were reinvented by other groups years later (until the day of today). Oh Yeah has more psychedelic and space influences and has again a killer rhythm! The tension of this song is build up by just playing heavier and heavier reaching a great climax. Side two has the 18 minute Hallelujah which is special because of keeping you attention for 18 minutes, though the rhythm section is basically unchanged throughout the song. The band explores ways to get the jam bag into the music and succeeds very well. Some spacey sounds and effects are interesting and It concludes the first record nicely. All tracks of lp 1 have a sort of distinct sound that has this never-ageing vibe. This is the true power of this record, many generations might be surprised how innovative seventies Krautrock was, especially this record.

The second record is different. There are strong avant-garde influences on this one. Aumgn (named after the esoteric cries of most wicked man on earth, Allester Crowly) is a sum of dark instrumental and vocal experiments. People with imaginative minds will find themselves to be on a lot of places during this special experience. People who like drugs should not skip this one! The controversy of using 'black magic' terms and 'spiritual' vocals is truly powerful and shows that Can wasn't going to leave one idea aside because of the social/cultural problems it could have gave them. On Aumgn Can uses guitar delays, a lot's of diffent drums, monk-like uuuuhhs and other sound effects that are sometimes hard to understand. Peking O. uses has yet some more experiments, this time with drum-computers. This is totally not my taste, but it's interesting to listen too for some times. Bring me Coffee or Tea is a song that could have made it to the first record of more conventional Can tracks with some nice guitar work and even melodic chord progressions.

Conclusion. This album has survived the test of time in a brilliant way. Record one is a masterful Can creation and record two is heaven for people who like true experimentation, avant-garde and even music beyond that. I'll rate lp one with four stars and record two with another four stars. The latter doesn't get it's stars for nice listening and have a great sunday afternoon, but because of it's motivation and innovation. This is a very important (I might say essential) record for progressive music: it will appeal to fans of Krautrock, psychedelic rock, psycho-beat, highly rhythmical music, jam-music, avant-garde and experimental music. For others this might be too psychedelic and hard to get into. I myself like the first record very much and have to be in a really good mood to listen to the second, though the latter strikes me as one of the most daring recordings of prog history! Four stars, well deserved!

friso | 4/5 |


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