Landed, Can‘s seventh studio album, marked an era of change for Can, one that saw them largely moving away from the more avant garde creations of their earlier records. It didn’t have the same experimental feel of Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi or Future Days. Less defined by jazzy, atmospheric textures than Soon Over Babaluma. In fact, the first track, “Full Moon on the Highway,” is a three-minute fuzz-rock song played in a fairly traditional rock ‘n’ roll style. This is the same Can, but also, it isn’t.
All of Can’s original members of the band are still present on Landed, save for their first singer Malcolm Mooney, but as a quartet, they continued to make interesting and even compelling music. Landed is somewhat more accessible and less defined by dissonance or free-form structures than their previous recordings, and as such reads as a little less ambitious if no less enjoyable. The songs, however, are still excellent.
“Full Moon,” for being so straightforward, rocks hard. Then there’s the exotic, eastern sounding “Half Past One,” with odd keyboards and Michael Karoli’s reverb-laden lead vocal treatment. “Hunters and Collectors” is one of the better tracks on the album, opening with odd percussive noises before zooming into an eerie, psychedelic ride led by Karoli’s tripped out vocals and guitar heroics. It drones and screams all at once, showing an odd juxtaposition, though one that ultimately makes for one of the album’s best tracks.
“Vernal Equinox” is noisy and peculiar, opening with pounding piano chords and some noisy guitar that sounded something like one of Sonny Sharrock’s chaotic freakouts. Ultimately, it’s just one long jam session, but it’s a stunner all the same. “Red Hot Indians” follows, a saxophone-led percussive jam that’s funkier, like the band’s older material, and offers yet another highlight from the album. The final track, “Unfinished,” is the epic one, and it’s not really a Can album if they don’t allow themselves the space to stretch out and see where their songs can go. At thirteen minutes and some change, it’s more oblique and ambient, incorporating lots of clicks and clangs, then giving way to keyboard washes and otherworldly screeches.
Landed is a little out there. While it’s not as consistent as the band’s other records, it’s still a fine listen. It may not be Ege Bamyasi, but it showcases a different, looser, even more playful side of Can. They’d ride that to disco-hit status within a year with “I Want More.” But here, there’s still weirdness nipping around their rock ‘n’ roll riffs.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.