Seconds
Can: Father Cannot Yell



can's discography opens well enough, with that little keyboard and the cool bassline, but it takes five minutes until this band blows you away (which is not really a long time in the span of a career, if you think about it). There's a little piece of lead guitar before it really hits, just so you know that this band has some potential energy and then...

A couple times you think they're going to go off. There's that weird part that comes in before the three-minute mark, right when you completely stop paying attention to singer Malcolm Mooney, which is good because in a few moments he drops the lyrics in favor of some grunting. That goes on exactly long enough, and then...

See, the thing about this solo that makes it absolutely perfect—not only within the song itself, of course, but within Monster Movie as a whole, in the entire run of Can, and in pop music in general, and, well, perfect in the sense of the attainment of an ideal—is the way that those few seconds starting at the five minutes completely dictate the way you experience the rest of the album. You can never get comfortable. Even in the middle of the extended "Yoo Doo Right" (you know, when it's all quiet and you kind of forget what music's on if you’re doing something else), you know something's going to happen...

But Can knows enough to tease you only the right amount. If they had waited longer to follow up that "huh huh," you'd have gone to the refrigerator. Instead, the guitar hits it just perfectly. The solo isn't technically stunning, emotionally effective, or, really, accomplished in any traditional sense. It's a fuzzy, scorched line (out of control, yet matched to the harmonic of the keys) that doesn't stop. The sound of someone squeezing my skull while my thoughts decompress. The light that lingers when I shut my eyes.

I'm drawn to it, yet it's force is centrifugal, spinning everything outward.

The echo stays for the album. "Mary, Mary So Contrary" spends half of its life just trying to erase the sound from the world, but it comes back, slower, indecisive, martial or classical or waving to shore. It provides the force of "Outside My Door," the unmentionable presence that prevents the train whistle from coming in. Until it becomes the whistle.

"Yoo Doo Right" runs for 20 minutes and maintains its own force through crazy playing, high energy, and guiding drums. Unlike post-rock's use of tension or build and release, Can's structures don't depend on anything so discernable. This track almost stops, but you can't leave, not only because the song's engaging (it almost stumbles as it softens), but because that sound lurks. The whole album tilts from that early solo, and it makes the space that the drums need on this track. It puts the scariness in the ambience. It lets the monsters out.

The album stops and you can relax. Except for a faint, nearly subliminal buzz that won't go away.



By: Justin Cober-Lake
Published on: 2005-01-19
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