Can

The Lost Tapes

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When the studio of ever-groundbreaking Krautrock pioneers Can was sold to Germany's Rock n' Pop Museum, the entire space was disassembled and moved, and in the process, reels and reels of poorly marked and seemingly forgotten tapes were found buried amid other detritus in the studio. These tapes held over 30 hours of unreleased music from Can spanning a nine-year period and including work from both vocalists Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki. Edited down to just over three hours, The Lost Tapes still includes an extensive amount of unheard studio, live, and soundtrack work from the band, and at its heights is as revelatory and brilliant as the best material on their well-loved albums. Early vocalist Malcolm Mooney left the band under doctor's orders after suffering a nervous breakdown connected with heavy paranoia, and his unhinged vocals characterize collections of early Can recordings like Delay. On The Lost Tapes, Mooney rants his way through the ten-plus-minute "Waiting for the Streetcar," a charged jam that crackles with all the same kind of energy that would embody the post-punk movement years later. Of the Mooney era, "Deadly Doris" also has the same fuzzy punk vibes meeting the kind of Krautrock groove Can excelled at, while the spoken eeriness of "When Darkness Comes" finds a brittle soundscape of formless tones and menacing muttering. Highlights are bountiful throughout the set's three discs, with soundtrack work like the hypnotic "Dead Pigeon Suite" and brilliant live renditions of classic tracks from the Damo Suzuki era like "Spoon" and "Mushroom." Some of the material cuts in and out between studio and live recordings, while other studio tracks are extended pieces with well-known album tracks housed in the middle of before-unheard jams. With over 30 hours of material to cull from, it goes without saying that Can loved to jam. If The Lost Tapes has any shortcomings, it would be that Can's exploratory nature led them to follow any idea at great length, and several of the songs approach or exceed the nine-minute mark, making the set difficult to digest at once. Some of the live tracks lack the fire of the rest of the set, as do some of the seemingly innocuous interludes. While The Lost Tapes isn't for every casual listener, the collection keeps from becoming a "fans only" compilation through the sheer amount of ideas and material put forth. Can's inarguable importance in so many fields of music from experimental to production-minded electronic music and so on has spanned generations, and these lost recordings represent an amazing mother lode to any Can enthusiast and certainly should hold more than enough interesting moments for even a curious new listener.

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