#39: Can – Don’t Leave The Light On, Leave Me Alone (1970)
From the 1970 album Soundtracks, and a confession: this track has appeared on this site before, albeit uncontextually appended to some kind of a Julian Cope piece – no words previously proffered; label this rectification.
As the album title suggests, this is less a coherent studio release than a collection of pieces originally composed for Bundesrepublik arthouse cinema. The weakness of the compilation as a format – de facto or no – is that unless cleverly constructed, any inherent disparateness can be exaggerated. Except this never comes close to passing with Soundtracks; if anything the richness, the experimental nous, the enigmatic feints that structurally comprise the Can back catalogue – this transposes to constraints of format in the most delightful fashion; a whole buttressed by psychedelia, dark NYC garage rock, experimental electronica and a left-field funk bounced off Chicago tenements to land in a ’70’s West Germany as if an artefact from a futuristic civilization.
Soundtracks is also the first appearance of German-Japanese vocalist Damo Suzuki. Although only a member of Can for four years, his androgynous, creamy inflexion – a magnificently warped, Oriental pseudo-jazz approach to music making – provided a completely different (and highly complimentary) dimension to the sonic Krautrock template. Although hardly the first band to experiment with an out-of-context singer (The Velvet Underground and Nico is one of many reference points), the resultant combinations can be exotic – maybe even erotic.
‘Don’t Turn The Light On…’ is a supreme example of music full of measure and panache. A subtle riot of unorthadox sound, all wrapped up in a fervent dance tune – you can so tell that Tony Wilson force-fed the Happy Mondays with Can albums in their formative years.
Can / Don’t Leave The Light On, Leave Me Alone
Lazer Guided Melody will return on May 6th. Or maybe the 7th if I’m hungover.