So last night some of the seamonsters came over to the Sin*a*Gog and we got to watch the much talked about Can DVD, before I had even seen it, I'd heard so many differing opinions of it; lots of people said "Oh it's shit; don't bother." I was skeptical to say the least. I was even a little worried; sometimes seeing a band in real life, is a little to much reality. Take Jason Molina's new line-up with Magnolia Electric Co.; I've always loved his Songs:Ohia material, and for the most part I enjoy the electric company (granted it's a little less original/neil young on a cracker anyone?) But seeing them live at Higherground last fall was heartbreaking; the man has no stage presence, even worse, he makes weird overly dramatic hand gestures and postures like a balding miniature Morrissey. I can see him playing slowburning dirges to a small crowd, hunched over his acoustic guitar, but not on the Tonight's the Night '05 tour, or whatever it was they were trying to do. The music itself was pretty boring as well; a little to chuggy not enough energy; I told myself they were having a bad night, apologized to everyone I dragged out with me, and made a mental note to forget this ever happened, or at least whenever I listen to "The Lioness."

What was I saying. Oh yeah, so I was worried when we first started watching the Live show. The video fades in with a strange close-up a child banging on some drums, and then fades around to close-ups of most of the band members, all of whom are apparently deep in though/totally tripping testicles; I started thinking; this is concert? And then bang; instantly I was assaulted with some of the most dense and potent krautrock I've ever heard. The Film had shifted to them playing to a rather large audience, and just really getting into it. The first thing I thought after that was "Man, these guys could play."
There albums are for the most part amazing; but this footage I was watching was like listening to the Can that is represented on their albums, and fusing them with a punk band; they were driven; less cerebral, they had a visceral edge that I wasn't used to hearing, and I liked it. This was prime Can, 72, sometime between Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi and it showed. I've never seen a drummer so in line with what was going on around him, and there was a lot going on. They all gave each other their space; each one finding minute rhythms inside and outside the beat; no one took "lead" and no one's Ego seemed to dominate the sound. I took copious mental notes.

The rest of the DVD however, was crap. Especially the epic slideshow masquerading as a "Documentary". What was interesting about it was it's depiction of Can as they progressed, and specifically Ermin Schmidt, who in the early days seemed aloof and talkative, and by the late 70's early 80's was a full blown ego maniac. Most of the interview clips with him talking make almost no sense, and he seemed to usually just disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I can't remember anything exactly but basically it was like this:

"Yah, vel, Ve ah German yah, and because of dis, yah we do not feel ze need to be coherent, stringing verds togesa is art, and you ah not a banana, ah you now?

and then later, he would say it in French. At some point I think around 77' things got really surreal with Can performing super disco dance pop to a sea of seated and stone faced students while wearing chain male and silver surfer jackets (Ermin, at least.) And when that wasn't enough, flash forward to the 90's or 80's I couldn't tell, and they're all living in like a fucking, adobe house playing flugalhornes and making little videos where one of them pretends to be the waiter, "but Ooops he dropped the bottle, lets chase him everyone!"

"What is this shit, Benny hill?" (Jb says.)

At that point, I realized that there is a distinct possibility that everything I may accomplish in my life, can be inadvertently tarnished and destroyed by my own doing in the end. I also realized that, if you're a little bit weird now... Wait till you're 70, then you're gonna be a fucking lunatic. I just hope I don't care by then.


The Le Duo said...

i didnt think the documentary was that bad until after the grey whistle stop express piece. i think the reason you all hated that song was because it reminded you that if Can was around now they'd be in the jam band section at pure pop and if some one went in and asked for them the clerks would be all like 'thats in the jam band section' and then giggle.

greg davis said...

tanner your description was spot on.

i was totally digging the fact that holger czukay, during that disco period live show with the rasta marvin gaye looking bass player, decided he was gonna play a mass of david tudorian radios and electronics and pedals over the top of some corny disco reggae wank. pretty amazing that they let him stay in the band and do that. he couldve easily just played some palm muted slap bass instead......im starting to think that holger was really responsible for alot of the weird sonic stuff on the records.

ive listened to all of the records up to soon over babaluma yesterday and today. i dont really dig the first couple that much. but starting with tago mago, its really tight and refined. they found their sound. i even really like future days alot and soon over. they sound more like classic cluster-ish krafwerky kraut rock. their earlier records are some obscure wacked out german coke funk. rad

The Contrarian said...

Future Days is, to me, the quintessential Can album. On this one, all their stylistic elements came together in service of some kind of pan-global, hydra-headed funkbeast.

And why SHOULDN'T Can be in the jam-rock section? There's some Grateful Dead shit that's more "out" than Can is.

PS: I wish my name was Ermin!

Anonymous said...

greg, you got it all wrong... holger wasn't playing those machines along with the band... he was in his own band by that point, that's why there was that screen, it was sound-proof. so, he was in his own band, but they (i.e., holger's band) just always played at the same time as Can. a little known fact. when will you boys learn?


serious p.s. i agree holger was responsible for the weird sonic stuff; wasn't he the leader of the band anyway?

long live jaki!!!

The Le Duo said...

i used to get so much shit from the people at pp when ever i would ask for any cd that was considered 'jam band' it so turned me off from that place it was years before i went in again. i dont need some cocky know it all condesending me because i live and die to 'dark star' present company excluded

The Contrarian said...

I love me some Dark Star.