can's ege bamyasi

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Can: Ege Bamyasi (1972)

Not gonna lie to you: I’m not crazy about this record. 

But I’ve finally spent enough time with it to feel like I will, one day, and that I can sort of grasp where Can’s celebrated fourth LP was coming from – you be the judge!

The way first track “Pinch” pounces out of the gate, it sounds to me like Can had spent plenty of time with Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, then completed their due diligence on the Dark Magus with the funky On the Corner – all of it powered by the elastic-limbed Jaki Liebezeit.

I much prefer the scat-jiving Damon Suzuki of the latter to the softly crooning version on the trippy “Sing Swan Song,” but all is forgiven on perhaps my favorite number here, “One More Night,” with its subtle but unrelenting groove.

Next song, “Vitamin C,” is a close second, thanks to Holger Czukay’s circular bass line and Michael Karoli’s timely scratch-guitar stabs, but I’ll need a few more years to decode all ten experimental minutes of “Soup,” and my only impression of “I’m So Green” is that it has a Zappa/Beefheart spirit.

And that just leaves Can’s hit single (hit single? Are you kidding me?), “Spoon,” which I suppose is catchy enough, but seemingly did well after being used as the theme of a German TV thriller called Das Messer (The Knife).

So check back with me in a few years and I’ll probably worship this LP. Or not.

In any case, I love the anecdote (maybe apocryphal) that says the Ege Bamyasi sessions were delayed by keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and Sukuzi’s greater interest in playing chess during recordings.