26 September 2007
Can - 1976 - Flow Motion
Quality: 3.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
Can made a very unfortunate slide into crappiness during the latter half of the 1970's. I picked up Flow Motion as it is supposed to be the best album from that period, but it's still not that great. I suppose I'd like it more if it came from some completely obscure krautrock group, but it's from the Can, dammit, and it should be better!
Anyway, for Holger Czukay's last voyage with the band as a full time bassist, Can decides to play around with dance and island rhythms. Honestly, if I want to hear some island rhythms, I'm probably not going to grab an album made by a bunch of Germans - just as I don't want to hear opera singers rap. Compared with the metronomic blast of Can's classic work, there's not much here to impress. I know bands need to move on and try new things, but they should hopefully do it successfully, as Can did on albums like Future Days. Here we're just taking a step down.
Anyway let's get to the good news. On opening track "I Want More," the band does a pretty good job of making an avant-pop single. It just doesn't sound much like Can. They pull a similar feat on side one closer "Babylonian Pearl." They should've handed these tracks over to David Bowie, who probably could have made them a perfect fit. In between we find the band playing around with island and even disco rhythms to various degrees of success. "Cascade Waltz"
has some fun sonic bursts courtesy of Irmin Schmidt and I do like the tribal disco of "...And More."
As I suppose was a Can tradition, they get more experimental on the next side. We get an ethnological forgery on the album with the completely tribal "Smoke." Finally, Can's edge makes an appearance and for me this is the best cut on the album. Then Can attempts an epic track with the closing title song. Unfortunately, they ride along a simple galloping groove for a full ten minutes and it's just not that interesting; I get bored after about two minutes of this. It's like something that would have been a short interlude on a better track like "Halleluwah."
So, there you have it. This is nowhere near Can's prime, but it includes one stellar Can track in the form of "Smoke," along with dabblings in avant-pop, island sounds, and disco. For me the disco works pretty well, the avant-pop is ok, and the island stuff tends to fall on it's face. I wouldn't venture here unless you've already heard Tago Mago 362 times.
Can - 1976 - Flow Motion