Tago Mago cover

Tago Mago

Can

Released

It’s reductive to say Can’s third album summarizes everything that made the German group great, but it absolutely demonstrates their remarkable range. With Damo Suzuki as their perfect wild-card vocalist, the original quartet dig deep into the improvisations, experiments and their ear for massive groove — a double album worth every second, almost inventing entire bands’ careers song for song.

Ned Raggett

Their last full album recorded at Schloss Nörvenich, Tago Mago is one of those sorcerer tools—it will simply never stop making things happen when you set it off. Having to jam the entire band onto a two-track tape machine gave Czukay some kind of otherworldly focus as an engineer and tape editor. All the instruments feel casually themselves, unsullied, but also entirely present. Karoli, not celebrated often enough, makes some of the wildest ice pilot sonar noises on this album, completely beyond the world of key (but not melody). Suzuki is at his musical best here, and the entire thing flows together without any bumps. “Paperhouse” is a gorgeous stumble around a boat and “Mushroom” is what the last cafe plays before the big one hits. “Halleluwah” is the finest straight time beat-keeping ever recorded, and “Aumgn” is their peak of mixing and editing mayhem. (I really wish they had ten more “Aumgn”s.) As one-two, sequential punches, these tracks flatten everything around them that isn’t Sly Stone or Miles. And even then, it’s a very close match. “Peking O.” is a fantastic sandwich of organ and tinfoil guitar and rhythm machine bug outs. Can were as organically avant garde as they were organically funky. The rare double LP that should have been twice as long. I’ve listened to this once a month since I first found it in 1986.

Sasha Frere-Jones