Can’s relationship to contemporary alt-rock and pop is so elemental that they have penetrated the DNA of acts as diverse as Happy Mondays, Wilco and Radiohead, plus innumerable others who have worshipped at their groovy altar rather more cravenly over the past 44 years. Frankly, it would be easier to name those that hadn’t soaked up Can’s stew of psychedelia, free jazz, prog rock, funk, avant-electronica, African high-life and musique concrete.
Following on from the reissue last year of Tago Mago comes this three-CD box set of previously unreleased material, the master tapes of which were rediscovered when Can’s Weilerswist studio was dismantled prior to sale. Thirty hours of music — recorded between 1968-77 — were edited and co-compiled by original member Irmin Schmidt, providing further evidence of Can’s unclassifiable genius.
Given their disregard for boundaries, The Lost Tapes is as rampantly diverse as you’d expect. Alongside “Blind Mirror Surf” — where smashing glass, a sound like mooing cows and unintelligible muttering suggest an episode of The Goon Show taped in Bedlam — sit groovy raga “Your Friendly Neighborhood Whore”, pastoral sci-fi epic “Dead Pigeon Suite” and the live “Mushroom,” where a distressed vocal and needling guitar subtly shift its gears by thrillingly malevolent increments.
Three discs is a lot to digest in one sitting, but to plunge into The Lost Tapes at any point is to be rewarded with a reason to rhapsodize afresh about Can’s everlasting, inspirationally bonkers vision.