United Artists Records
Newly installed in the second iteration of Inner Space, assembled in an abandoned Weilerswist cinema, Can was working and gigging non-stop. Three songs here— “Spoon,” “I’m So Green,” and “Vitamin C”—were already out as singles when it came time to deliver an album to United Artists. Three new songs were recorded for that purpose (“Pinch,” “Sing Swan Song,” and “One More Night”) as well as a massive soundcrush, in the tradition of “Aumgn,” called “Soup.” As energetic and spacy as Tago Mago, this album gets it done in half the time, without sacrificing any of that Can alchemy. They worked harder than anyone else in their slot. Intense, baggy, wild, sharp, completely of its own world.
"Spoon” notched Can a hit, which led to some cash, which led to a new studio, which led to Ege Bamyasi — and if you want to know what that led to, well, there’s only so much space. So let’s settle for “justifiably revered by anyone who loves avant-rock” and get to the heart of things. Considering the fizzy-buzzing dynamics of that catalytic single (slotted in as the LP’s closer), where the rhythm section of Holger Czukay (bass) and Jaki Liebezeit (drums) bolster the song like granite you can swim in, the album’s expansion of that weighty fluidity pays off in terms both accessibly funky and endlessly surprising. “Vitamin C” gives the drummer some and lets him give it back tenfold, a danceable tension pierced by some of Damo Suzuki’s greatest quiet-verse-loud-chorus whispers and wails. And “I’m So Green” lets guitarist Michael Karoli morph from Leo Nocentelli-caliber riffing to an increasingly slippery improv that turns the floor beneath your feet into quicksand. While it’s shorter than most Can albums on lengthy freeform jams, the two it throws at you — the Electric Miles-adjacent freakout “Pinch” and “Soup”’s rhythmic slow-motion collapse into noise — make Ege Bamyasi the first album you should give to anyone curious about what these guys were capable of.
Boiling down the monster grooves of its predecessor, 1971’s Tago Mago, into a leaner seven-song confection, Ege Bamyasi is the perfect introduction to Can’s singularly brilliant universe for the uninitiated. The sublime “One More Night” is a twitching, minimalist trance, “Soup” digs into their denser, darker, brain-scrambling side, while in the spooked “Spoon” they even landed an unlikely number one hit in their homeland, thanks to its use in a German cop TV show. It’s a toss-up which one of Ege Bamyasi or Tago Mago is the krautrock titans’ meisterwerk (the 18-and-half minutes of “Halleluwah” tips it in favour of the latter for this writer), but as an entrée for one of the most innovative and important bands of the 20th century, it’s mouth-watering.