Can, Inner Space / Out of Reach

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 07.30.12 in Reviews

Combining Can’s 1978 disc Out of Reach, with its 1979 album Can aka Inner Space, this twofer release captures the German band at its least Can-ish.

Capturing the German band at its least Can-ish

Out of Reach (tracks 9 through 15) isn’t even included in the band’s own official discography. Both latter-day ex-Traffic members, Saw Delight additions Rebop Kwaku Baah and Rosko Gee do all the singing here, and founding member Holger Czukay isn’t involved at all; he quit the band in ’77. Rebop is a dexterous player, but his percussion often overwhelms Jaki Liebezeit’s drums rather than augmenting them. Bassist Gee is similarly aggressive and technique-intensive, a sharp contrast to Czukay’s minimal yet empathetic previous basslines. Out of Reach is far more akin to the virtuoso flash of American jazz-rock groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra than to the intellectual, intrinsically Germanic Krautrock of yore.

The third and final album Can album recorded with Gee and Rebop, Inner Space (tracks 1 through 8) improves upon 1978′s Out of Reach by dropping much of that album’s frantic jazz-rock excess, restoring guitarist Michael Karoli as vocalist, and employing Holger Czukay’s editing skills. 1979′s Can (issued here as Inner Space) nevertheless comes cluttered with filler: A goofy fuzz-tone cover of the melody from Jacques Offenbach’s opera Orpheus in the Underworld most associated with the can-can illustrates how far the band had ventured from its avant-garde beginnings. But the strongest material — particularly “Aspectacle,” a menacing quasi-disco track akin to contemporaneous cuts by James White and the Blacks — restores that essential mystery in Can’s core.