Live in Stuttgart 1975 is the first in a series of live concerts from legendary krautrock pioneers CAN. This recording was first distributed via bootleg tapes, but has now been curated and remastered by the band’s own Irmin Schmidt and their longtime producer Rene Tinner, to be distributed for the first time in vinyl, CD and digital formats.
Live in Stuttgart is composed of five beefy improvisational rock pieces that are simply numbered as one to five in german. This simplicity however, is muddled by the fact that each individual track can run from ten to thirty five minutes. Listening to this epic concert is a huge commitment, but it’s well worth it. CAN has been widely influential in a whole lot of genres, including modern psych, angular post-rock, ambient and electronica among others, not to mention their influence in the krautrock scene of the time. Each song finds members of the band playing off each other in an almost trance-like state of flow. Each riff, musical section or rhythm change so seamlessly executed that it feels like they’re playing a properly rehearsed album – something we know isn’t true, as the band has a reputation for never playing a song in the same way twice. It’s marvelous to see how many soundscapes they are able to conjure with only a set of drums, guitars, keyboard and bass.
Opening track “Eins” feels like a warm-up or soundcheck under the context of the whole concert, except for the fact that it lasts twenty minutes long. Drummer Jaki Liezbezeit holds a tight groove while riffs slowly start to simmer under the hands of Michael Karoli. Not long after, the piece takes on a life of its own. Follow-up “Zwei” is the most rhythmically agile of the bunch. One that evolves from a bouncy cadence, which then develops into a speedy chase of harmonics before shifting into an eerie explosion of psychedelia.
Centerpiece “Drei” features bassist Holger Czukay in a prominent role, holding the melody at first and never letting the pocket go. At thirty-five minute runtime, the piece goes through a metamorphosis. Each change can be met simply by a small stutter of riffs or a slight shift in the beat, but capable of pulling the other instruments into a totally different space.
Each of these jams explore a variety of moods, but they’re not too loud as to create a sense of fatigue while listening. In fact I find myself hypnotized by each of these grooves as time flew by around me. This is definitely a must recommend for CAN fans as well as anyone interested in the progenitor of the many facets of rock.