Can - Ege Bamyasi
What makes an album essential? Of all of the music recorded over the history of the world, how does one decide that one record over another must be heard? In my opinion It comes down to a couple of things. First, the album in question needs to be one where no matter how many listens you give to it, there is something new to be discovered. Furthermore it should be an album that can define or represent a genre / approach or a time period in and of itself. An album that can push the listener into a whole new plane of musical territory. The most important thing however, is that the album is just that good to be called essential. This weeks example of such an album is the infamous and incredible Ege Bamyasi by German experimental music pioneers CAN.
Originally released in 1972, it was a turning point for the band and a watershed moment for experimental music in general. Its ability to interweave somewhat conventional song structure with improvisation and studio trickery has allowed this album to exist on a level paralleled by few and challenged by even less. The admission was simple; one need not choose between experimental music and the pleasure of songwriting. Can had been slowly implementing more traditional song structures leading up to this album, however they were simultaneously getting more and more experimental leading up to Ege Bamyasi. Their music was not wholly European influenced, but their ability to strain their American influences, predominantly free jazz & psychedelic rock music, through their singular filter is what makes Can so special. There is a playfulness and a sense of humility in their music that is also rarely found in any kind of music let alone experimental music. They truly did what they believed was necessary and expected nothing in return other than artistic self-fulfillment.
When I heard this album for the first time about 10 years ago, I assumed it was somewhat recently made based on its musical vocabulary and its production. But 1972?!? I was immediately blown away and continue to be every time I put it on. It goes beyond being ahead of their time, Can existed outside of time. I owe them for the push into what is unfortunately oversimplified as “Krautrock”. I honestly can't imagine my own record collection without Ege Bamyasi and all that has come with it. It's this kind of gratitude that makes an album essential. (Adam)
Check out a track here.