Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
People tend to see this album as either the end of Can's classic period or the beginning of their depressing plunge. I'm not sure if I ascribe to one of these views, but I am unwilling to put this one in the same ballpark as something like Future Days or Tago Mago. There's still enough here to be worthwhile, however, as Can brings the spacey glide or Future Days down to Earth or perhaps some alien planet.
Of course, the big change here is the absence of vocalist Damo Suzuki. Previous to this disc he ran off with a Jehovah's Witness and the band went on as a four-piece with Irmin Schmidt and Michael Karoli taking vocals. Neither of them are particularly strong singers, but they often sound strangely sort of like Suzuki. What's really different is that Can no longer has a catalyst for their sonic explorations. I feel that Mooney and especially Suzuki seemed to prod the band into the interstellar reaches. On "Dizzy Dizzy" and "Come Sta. La Luna" we find a much less experimental-sounding band. The quality of the tracks are still pretty good, but they're missing a bit of the old fire. Drummer Liebezeit in particular seems to have a lot less intensity on the first two tracks.
With the the third track, the almost Bitches Brew -like "Splash," Can steps up and delivers a track worthy of their legacy. Even Liebezeit delivers here with lots of awesome jazzy polyrhythms. One thing that is a personal qualm about this album and "Splash" is the violin-sounding keyboards that Schmidt employs throughout the album. It simply is not my favorite sound in this context. You might dig it.
Side two of the album is fortunately classic Can. "Chain Reaction" and "Quantum Physics" successfully the more experimental side of Can for what is pretty much the last time in their recording career. The band finally soars off of a bubbling rhythm for some spectacular ensemble jamming (I feel Can is one of only a few rock bands that deserves a license to jam) before settling into a somewhat goofy, galloping section with vocals. Then the band practically dissolves into "Quantum Physics." The band whisps away over the next eight minutes until nothing is left. It's the sound of peaceful disintegration.
If you've already got Can's classics, this is probably the next place to go. It's missing a real standout track like "Mushroom" or a great epic like "Mother Sky," but enough of Can's talent comes through to make this worth exploring. It probably was the last time that Can's experimental edge made the cut.
Can - 1974 - Soon Over Babaluma