Saturday, January 22, 2011

Inner and
Outer Space

Irmin Schmidt
and the Inner
Space, Kama-
sutra: Vollen-
dung der Lieb
Crippled Dick
Hot Wax

When it comes to Can, I'm not a completist, though they're one of my very favorite bands (frankly, I don't have the storage space or the disposable income to collect everything by most any artist).

I prefer their early material--when vocalists Malcolm Mooney
and Damo Suzuki were part of the line-up--to their later work.

And by early material, I'm including the recordings composer-
keyboard player Irmin Schmidt made as Inner Space, the
name of their Cologne studio, before he co-founded Can.
According to his Wikipedia entry, Schmidt "has written the
music to more than 40 films and television programs."

For this release, his collaborators include drummer Jaki Liebe-
zeit, guitarist Michael Karoli, and Mooney ("There Was a Man").

The AMG speculates that Holger Czukay and David C. Johnson
handled bass and flute, respectively (the latter made his exit in
1969). Therefore, it's a Can record in all but name. The group
would follow it up with their unofficial '68 debut, Can...Delay.

Like Inner Space's Agilok and Blubbo, which finally saw release
in 2009, Kamasutra serves as the score for a German film of
the same name. Can would continue to contribute to many mo-
tion pictures throughout their career, as exemplified by 1970's
Soundtracks, which features the lilting "She Brings
the Rain"
and majestic "Mother Sky," their crowning achieve-
ment (it receives pride of place in '71's wrenching Deep End).

From descriptions of the film, Kamasutra doesn't sound like
anything special, but the score is another matter. Other than
"Man" and "I'm Hiding My Nightingale," it's an instrumental af-
fair combining elements of jazz, psychedelia, folk, and African
polyrhythms into a concoction that should be familiar--if
not downright exhilarating--to Can's fervent followers.

To my mind, Can is the German equivalent of Traffic, while Traf-
fic is the UK equivalent of Can (bassist Rosko Gee and percus-
sionist Reebop Kwaku Baah played with both). That's particular-
ly apparent here since Johnson's woodwind work saturates the
entire enterprise. I also like the way it feels as if Liebezeit is
pounding his kit somewhere within the recesses of your skull.
I can't quite explain the effect, but it's eerie and hypnotic.

Mostly, I can't believe that it took over 40 years for this LP
to see the light if day. Suffice to say: it was worth the wait.

Cage the Elephant, Thank You Happy Birthday, Jive/Sony

On their second record, Kentucky's Cage the Elephant pro-
duce the kind of clean modern rock we used to play on KNDD.
Matthew Schultz's wavery pipes provide the most distinguish-
ing feature, especially on "Indy Kidz" and "Sell Yourself," where
he explodes in blood-curdling screams. (While listening to the
CD, I found out that Cage records an Endsession on Sunday.)

Jaden Carlson, Tell Me What You See, self-released [2/22/11]

Nine-year-old Colorado kid Jaden Carlson makes music aimed
more at adults (like her band mates) than the kiddie set. Her soph-
omore disc offers down-home rock hampered by the unexception-
al vocals of a child with a severely limited range. With experience,
this Michael Franti protegé may become a better singer--she's al-
ready a good guitarist--but for now, the instrumentals form the
set's highlights. Otherwise: this feels like a vanity project.

Endnote: For more information about Cage the Elephant,
please click here; and for Jaden Carlson, here. Image of Ir-
min Schmidt from Wikipedia (photograph by Heinrich Klaffs).

No comments: