Can’s Irmin Schmidt on the Band’s Legacy and Most Memorable Live Shows

Source: FLOOD.

Formed in Cologne, Germany in 1968 by a mix of Stockhausen students, improvisation jazz heads, and gypsy garage rockers with the intention of hard experimentation and “instant compositions,” Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit, and Michael Karoli’s Can made genuinely jarring—and still unique sounding—studio albums. The hypnotic, rhythmic improvs of Tago Mago, the oblique Krautrock of Ege Bamyasi, the psychedelic maze of Monster Movie; each weave mesmeric spells, testing the waters of cut-and-paste sampling musique concrète and no wave funk. For all that free-everything, Can was never more at its freest, and least sentimental, than when they were playing live. For the most part, several of its studio albums were lengthy improvisations edited down to something more symmetrical. As for their actual hours-long live gigs, each was a circus of unpremeditated magic with only an occasional stop along their song catalog (and Can did have pop hits, such as “Spoon”).