Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Future Days - Can (1973 album) - review

A few years ago, I resolved to get into the music of Can, the legendary German avant-garde rock group. However, I may have made a mistake in commencing my Can journey by listening to their 1973 album Future Days.  I was left rather bemused and unimpressed, and it took a while for the Can "bug" to genuinely bite, once I had explored their more accessible material, such as that from Ege Bamyasi, and their 1971 magnum opus Tago Mago.

I suspect that Can are one of those bands who might take a while to impress themselves fully on some listeners, but when that invisible threshold is crossed, the wonders and infectiousness of their work are acutely felt. This was definitely the case with me, and Future Days suddenly made a lot more sense in that context.

With the exception of the punchy and relentless "Moonshake", this record is more ethereal and soothing in tone than either of the works which immediately preceded it. "Chill-out" music might be an appropriate phrase to describe the epic closer "Bel Air", certainly, although it does have its livelier and pugnacious moments.

The drumming of Jaki Leibezeit is less dominant in these tracks, based as they are on relaxing soundscapes, with more emphasis on melody, mood and texture than on rhythm. There is some stylistic and sensual continuity between the title track, "Spray" and the aforementioned "Bel Air".  I don't see "Moonshake" as a fly in the ointment;it serves a purpose in providing backbone.

With its habitually hypnotic and laid-back flavour, this LP doesn't jump out and grab you like some of their other work, and as my experience perhaps illustrates, it needs more work, concentration and patience.

My advice would be to listen to the two previous albums, and then this one will be more palatable and welcoming than otherwise might have been the case.  This record, in rounding off Can's classic early Seventies trilogy, as well as being the last one to feature vocalist Damo Suzuki, is a delight in its own right.  Just immerse yourself in the early passages of "Bel Air", and float away....

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