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Can “Soon Over Babaluma” (1974)

Even without Damo Suzuki, Can demonstrate their mastery of dense, funky jamming on Soon Over Babaluma.

The opener, “Dizzy Dizzy”, with surprisingly funny lyrics whispered by Michael Karoli, shows the band at their most confident and powerful, with the added violin work fitting in the mood remarkably well. “Come Sta, La Luna”, chant-sang by keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, has an almost mystical tone that reminds one of Roxy Music’s “Triptych”, yet the sparse, beautiful piano playing gives it a quite different type of “medieval” sounds from anything coming from England in the 1970s. Whilst the almost ambient atmospheres of these two tracks are a step beyond Future Days, the remaining three songs are less atmospheric and mostly instrumental. “Chain Reaction”, sang by Karoli, is really dense and hypnotic, yet is so danceable owing to Karoli’s understated and powerful guitar work, and the four-minute mid-song solo is about the most hypnotic thing any rock band has ever put to record. The final track, “Quantum Physics” is truly ambient and remarkably fluid: almost a relief from the fiery “Chain Reaction” with which it formed the original vinyl’s second side. “Splash”, though sounding rather like the Soft Machine, was a fiery, jazzy number that showed Can’s ability to make densely improvised music was at its peak.

Soon Over Babaluma may lack the explosive quality of the Suzuki-era albums, but its glacial, hypnotic beauty is remarkable. —laikehao

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