16 December 2004

Can's vague sense of the 'Other'


Back on a Can kick after a long hiatus when I just stopped getting them - another result of the enduring psychic determinism of Mr and Mrs. Cubensis (promise that next week I'll stop this druggy nonsense). Can's 'Oh Yeah' came on and fitted perfectly...one of those rare moments when the music and environment merge with such apparent intentionality that you start thinking about The Nativity and consider clapping...

My wife clapped all the way through. She's still clapping now.

For some reason, it made me think of the phrase 'vague sense of other' that I remember (or think i remember) reading in somewhere like The Wire. I think the original context was derogatory and alluded to the Western glorification, mystification and appropriation of the 'East'...but listening to the backwards idiot savant ramblings of 'Oh Yeah' with the thunderclaps and the autistic drummming I came to see this phrase as being ultimately positive: why shouldn't our sense of otherness be vague? Isn't accepting that very vagueness a necessary part of the human condition; a Platonic slice of wisdom through ignorance? An acceptance that we'll never know with the understanding that to not know is a perfectly reasonable state of mind?


After all, the backpacking search for authenticism has never impressed me much, perhaps because I've never accepted that it's possible to experience, say, Tibet without actually being Tibetan. Similarly, a four week slog around India searching for yourself is never really likely to pay off, is it? Yes, the cultural experience may help you contextualise some of your present concerns - my i-Pod is scratched but at least I'm not a leper but can it ever really do more than that? Even for those who supposedly immerse themselves in the culture? I mean, how much of your own cultural; consciousness can actually be submerged top make way for the new schemas?

Anyway...it also made me think of the not famous late 80s Yeovil non band King Mong... which sort of tried to do what Can do on Tago Mago with a genuine 'other' (i.e. a Down's Syndrome Punk guy). At the time, none of us had heard Can, or any krautrock (unless you count Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream)but we'd seen this guy 'singing' at the Special Needs centre at Yeovil College and thought he'd make a wonderful, Genesis P Orridge-type, front man...an idea busted apart at the first practice by a rather wide-eyed College management who insisted we were somehow being exploitative ( i guess we were but I can't see how being a pop star wouldn't be better than serving tables or sitting behind reception desks at Day Care centres)

Oh Yeah
(from Tago Mago)

Vitamin C
(from Ege Bamyasi)

Can tried to reach the 'other' through Suzuki and Karoli - both outsiders looking in, both little Heart valves of Darkness in amongst all the trained Stockhausenists, virtuosos and technicians.

And, whether or not their intentions were honourable, I think they almost reach it.


Mark Spit said...

Wonderful wonderful. Mushrooms and Can like hand and glove... but listen to them straight and revel in the wonder of music.

The only dark cloud to the silver lining is that I once interviewed Can and found them to be the most obnoxious arses I'd ever questioned (and there were a few of them).

I don't presume that those who make music I like should be people I like, but it awfully disconcerting when someone who makes music as beautiful as Can is actually an arse with no social grace.


matt_the_cat said...

Great music.Curious what you think of 'I'm So Green' from Ege Bamyasi and 'Dizzy Dizzy' from Soon Over Babaluma (personal fave mood pieces).

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