CAN THE SINGLES JOI T. ARCAND
MUTE/SPOON, LP, $36.99
Collecting records is, in many respects, a form of indulgent nostalgia. Think of the albums we never had, but wish we did, the ones loaned out but never returned and others that simply disappeared into the dustbin of history. With vinyl back in fashion, it’s easier than ever to fill in that personal back catalogue. Record stores abound with re-issued LP classics and out-of-print rarities pressed on heavy-duty vinyl with extensive liner notes, album artwork and bonus digital versions. Yet no matter how deluxe these new editions might be, can they ever replace the lingering memories of the first?
This triple-lp set of B-side singles by “krautrock” pioneers CAN is a perfect case in point. Founded in the late 1960s in Cologne, with influences that range from keyboardist Irmin Schmidt’s “corruption” by Fluxus art and the Warholera Chelsea Hotel to Schmidt and bassist Holger Czukay’s studies with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, CAN has long been considered a seminal fusion group, an art-rock collision of compositional sensibilities and spontaneous experimentation driven by the improvised vocals of Malcolm Mooney, then Damo Suzuki, and the relentless, machine-like pulse of the late drummer Jaki Liebezeit.
The first three sides of this set deliver the CAN of memory: psychedelic/ funk-infused hits alongside lesser-known, equally trance-inducing tracks. From there, memory begins to fade, particularly on the disco and instrumental tracks from the late 1970s and ’80s, where edge gives way to excess, and the mind drifts to the next forgotten record on the list. —BRYNE MCLAUGHLIN
Installation view of Joi T. Arcand’s illuminated sign at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, 2017 PHOTO RITA TAYLOR