“Soon Over Babaluma” by Can - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1974Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Following “Future Days”, the unpredictable Damo Suzuki got married to a Jehovah's Witness and left the group, once again leaving them without a vocalist. After a string of unsatisfactory auditions, they decided to keep it in-house and guitarist/violinist Michael Karoli stepped up, with keyboardist Irmin Schmidt also chipping in here and there. Michael wastes no time at all in introducing his newly-learned skills – singing whilst playing on his electric violin – as “Dizzy Dizzy” comes bouncing in with urgency, almost as if in mid-flow from an hour-long jam. It seems informed by the burgeoning Jamaican dub scene and invokes involuntary exclamations of “Bucky Skank!” But maybe that’s just me. It’s an exceedingly impressive performance from all, really intense. Also, it’s clear straight away that they are not going to miss Damo; these twitchy vocal intonations take over seamlessly from where Suzuki left-off. “Come Sta, La Luna” maintains those smoky dub atmospherics, with the higher-pitched vocal of Irmin providing yet another dynamic. Playing against this seems to be some sort of bubbly water-submerged vocal sample, from whom or where I’m not sure, but I’m quite taken with it. There’s a vaguely latin feel to the rhythm and this is immediately accentuated and focused in the following progressive piece, “Splash”, a wonky instrumental rhumba which promises much but ultimately delivers little.

The group stretch out a little on side 2, as “Chain Reaction” takes us on an 11 minute proto-Techno journey that keeps Can out front as innovators extraordinaire in the never-ending artistic challenge to create and seek out pastures new. The relentless beat never lets up for a second, but sonically breaks down and builds up at various points, leaving the dancers plenty of time to express them funky selves wildly, or something. This, right here, is the square root of many alt-dance creators of the future, a remarkable sensory experience for 1974. 1974! After all that exhilaration, “Quantum Physics” serves as the great ambient come-down, as the set opts to fade away rather than burn out. All in, this is another solid album of work for the Can catalogue.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [05:40] 8.3.png Can - Dizzy Dizzy (Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt, Duncan Fallowell) Dubbeat
A2 [05:42] 7.7.png Can - Come Sta, La Luna (Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt) Dubbeat
A3 [07:45] 5.6.png Can - Splash (Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt) Prog
B1 [11:09] 7.4.png Can - Chain Reaction (Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt) Alternative Dance
B2 [08:31] 5.4.png Can - Quantum Physics (Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt) Avant-Garde

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