Masters of Confusion is taken from three live sets recorded by veteran CAN keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and drum'n'bass artist Kumo. And that's basically what it consists of; piano and electronic drums, with only subtle sampling and external keyboard effects. The live crowd at these concerts, which featured excerpts from Schmidt's opera Gromenghast, isn't even faintly apparent on these recordings until you get to track seven, which will prove a relief to some listeners.
Sound throughout has the resolution of a studio recording, and "Goatfooted Baloonman" is the best of the album's cuts, as Schmidt and Kumo mix up techno and keyboard licks into a stew that resembles Martin Denny meets Stravinsky. "Las Plumas de Bluho" and "Burning Straw in the Sky" settle more into a Bulgarian feel in the piano, with funk invading the drum work on the third track, ultimately going on a bit too long. "Those Funny Things (Out There)" consists of jazzy disco Muzak in the outer parts and spacey prepared piano in the middle. "Fledermenschen" picks up your ears a good deal at this point, and the drums dominate the middle of this number. "Beauty Duty" resembles the sound of CAN more than anything else on this disc. "Gentle Into the Night" is a very lush piece that is reminiscent of both Martin Denny and Charles Ives, with a fair amount of wailing theremin-like sounds. The last piece, "Either or the Survivor," is the loosest of the disc, and also the weakest. While neither fish nor fowl, Masters of Confusion is a strong effort that brings out, in it's best moments, some fine work from both Schmidt and Kumo. In its weak spots the disc is not so much annoying as you're just waiting for something to happen. Fans of CAN will doubtless find it interesting, but electronica buffs may find Masters of Confusion pleasurable as well, and should not ignore this release due to the presence of the "old guy."