‘The records are only half of the picture,’ says Irmin Schmidt, founder member of the great German experimental collective Can. ‘Live [performance] is the side of ours which actually has still to be discovered. For many of the people who came to our concerts, it was much more important in building up the legend than the records, because it was something extraordinary.’
Rock music is neck deep in retrospection these days, but the release of a ‘new’ Can album, Live in Stuttgart 1975, can’t be dismissed as just one more trawl through the floor sweepings. Instead, as Schmidt suggests, it reshapes what we know about one of the most influential bands of the 20th century.
Formed in Cologne in 1968 by Schmidt, who played keyboards, and bassist Holger Czukay, alongside drummer Jaki Liebezeit and guitarist Michael Karoli, Can used improvisation, repetition and trance dynamics to conjure music in which, in the words of their biographer Rob Young, ‘everything appears to be changing over an unchanging same’.