Can - Live in Cuxhaven 1976 Music Album Reviews

Can - Live in Cuxhaven 1976 Music Album Reviews
The third installment in an ongoing series of live recordings contains some of the krautrock titans’ most unbridled moments yet, but the whittled-down highlights preclude any sense of flow.

Can were the most flexible act of the so-called krautrock explosion, equally as mesmerizing in short, ecstatic art-rock bursts as they were in epic, sprawling, 20-minute jams. The Cologne-based group deftly matched the jammy psychedelic rock of Amon Düül, the hypnotic motorik of Neu!, and the electronic meditations of Tangerine Dream, and that’s before the mid 1970s, when the band infused its sound with funk and Afrobeat. For Can, capturing a specific sound was secondary to the idea of music as a kinetic expression of freedom.

Onstage, they were even more unbound, both in their confidence as psychic improvisers and in the knowledge that transfixed audiences would stick around for a second set if the first one honked. That much is apparent from the first two releases in the mid-’70s Can live series, Live in Stuttgart 1975 and Live in Brighton 1975. Recorded in the wake of Damo Suzuki’s departure two years earlier, both are expansive documents from the pioneering kosmische outfit just figuring shit out in real time, skronking the light fantastic, kicking ass and blowing minds across six LP sides.

Which makes it particularly puzzling that the third entry in the series, Live in Cuxhaven 1976, takes an approach so at odds with an actual Can live set. None of its four tracks—untitled and simply numbered, as before, in German—are longer than eight and a half minutes in length. The vast stretches of audacious, sometimes uncomfortable, interplay are absent. There’s no fat here, but that’s precisely what ardent carnivores insist makes the rib eye delicious.

It even begins in medias res, “Eins” fading in with Can mid-groove. The funky interplay between human metronome Jaki Liebezeit and guitarist Michael Karoli, dispensing quick, chunky wah-wah strums, is a bridge to that year’s yet-to-be-recorded Flow Motion. That album, which introduced reggae and disco rhythms to a (mostly) unsatisfied cadre of critics and fans, is a clear departure, and here, it’s fascinating to witness the band shedding its skin. But without the context of what preceded this stretch of the show, it’s as if we’ve purchased a ticket with a partially obstructed view.

What’s most compelling about live Can recordings from this period is the way the band constructs an improvised jam from the ground up. On “Drei,” Can lays out a ragged framework of Soon Over Babaluma opener “Dizzy Dizzy,” even featuring rare (for this era) snippets of vocals from bassist Holger Czukay. As the rhythm section locks in, Karoli wails, droning and arpeggiating on his guitar before briefly dropping out, about three minutes in. He returns with fury, unfurling a demonic guitar from out of nowhere, which sends “Drei” spiraling into another dimension. Karoli spends the rest of the jam winding around the melody, approaching it from every angle: playfully funky riffs, proto-shoegaze walls of sound, squeaky jazz fusion runs. Satisfying as it is, “Drei” also gestures to the Can vault—filled, no doubt, with further explorations, unheard and thick with dust.

Moments like this are what inspired Can founder and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, credited as curator of the series, to structure the live albums as a selection of highlights from a given concert, rather than cobbling together choice bits from various dates. His reasoning, he told The New York Times last year, was to convey “how the flow was going, the feeling of a real concert.” On Live in Cuxhaven 1976, that feeling of flow is all too brief—like snapping awake from a vivid dream too soon.

It’s baffling, for this reason, that Schmidt—the only surviving member of the group from this period—allowed the show to be edited with a chainsaw. Perhaps it’s listener fatigue. Maybe the $50 price point for a triple album scared off all but the most devoted of motorik heads curious enough to see if the group will cross the 30-minute threshold on a “Bel Air” jam. Can called its stretched-out improvisations “Godzillas,” massive and Earth-shattering as they were. In the name of brevity and thriftiness, Live in Cuxhaven gives us a few sketches of Minilla, the kaiju’s juvenile son.

What’s here, across 30 minutes, is a worthy and incomplete document that contains some of the most unrestrained live Can moments yet available. What it’s missing are the doldrums, the drawn-out experiments, and that feeling that Schmidt hopes to convey: that we’re trapped in Lower Saxony with the mighty Can, spinning out of control for as long as it takes to reach our shared destination.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Can - Live in Cuxhaven 1976 Music Album Reviews Can - Live in Cuxhaven 1976 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 27, 2022 Rating: 5


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