Thursday, November 8, 2012

40 Year Itch: Ege Bamyasi

This was the first Can LP I bought brand new (Torquay 1972) and it is still my favourite. 
-Julian Cope

There is probably no better introduction to the sonically trance-inducing, highly experimental world of Krautrock than Can's approachable fourth album. That's despite its fairly unapproachable name Ege Bamyasi --which means Aegean Okra in Turkish.

Thanks to a hit single, "Spoon", which hit #6 in the German charts and sold 300,000 copies, Can had enough money to rent out a large cinema in Weilerswist. They nailed 1,500 army surplus mattresses to the walls for soundproofing and began work on the album that would accompany "Spoon".

It wasn't an easy session. Guitarist Michael Karoli was falling ill to what would turn out to be a perforated ulcer. And keyboardist Irmin Schidt and vocalist Damo Suzuki were obsessively playing chess. Getting the album finished involved some chaotic, last minute recordings which may explain some of Suzuki's slap dash lyrics like "Hey you, you're losing, you're losing, you're losing, your Vitamin C".

For his part Suzuki says nobody should be looking for wisdom in his lyrics:

"I can't sing, so I use the voice as an instrument, " he told Mojo Magazine." I'm not interested in anything in particular, that's why I sing about nothing. I improvise melody and texture too...Sometimes it sounds like English, French or German, but really it is the language of the Stone Age."

The album did get finished on time. Ege Bamyasi to much critical acclaim at the time. Melody Maker called Can "the most talented and most consistent experimental rock band in Europe. England included." The album remains highly though of with even the vaunted hipsters of Pitchfork giving it a 9.8 out of 10.

CAN tells their own story--including how Damo first took the stage without ever rehearsing with Can-- here

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