Agony Shorthand

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is “Mother Sky” one of the most screaming rock songs of all time, or what? The nearly 15 minutes it takes to crank it through headphones or wherever one chooses to take in its propulsive majesty in is 15 minutes exceptionally well spent, every time. You could throw away the whole of 1970’s “Soundtracks”, CAN’s second album, and leave “Mother Sky” intact and it’d be an all-time classic record regardless – lucky for us the rest is pretty all-good as well. Depending on how one defines “krautrock”, I’d posit that CAN at this point weren’t consistently making any (for me, the template song of the genre is NEU!’s “Hallogallo”, but I recognize the krautrock table is wide enough for many comers). Each song is weird and/or lovely in its own way – for instance, “Tango Whiskeyman” is a dark, spooky creeper that morphs into a lush – well, a lush tango. “Deadlock (Titelmusik)” is a jarring snippet of an instrumental that is the only one on here that sounds like something truly from a film, and “She Brings the Rain” is a balladic hippie waltz through the psychedelic mushroom forest (it’s also a nice “cool down” to end the album after the raging sonic scree of “Mother Sky”). I suppose I’m more inclined to throw on “Tago Mago” or “Ege Bamyasi” when I want to get a more consistent taste of CAN, but “Soundtracks” is right up there among their best.