Initially, beginning his musical career as a pupil of avant garde composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and Gyorgy Ligeti, CAN‘s founding member and primary composer/songwriter Irmin Schdmit (keyboard) had conducted a number of high-profile orchestrated pieces in his native Germany and aboard; however, a trip to New York where he encountered Andy Warhol and Hotel Chelsea, and heard the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa had transformed his life. Along with the band’s other core members — Holger Czukay (bass), Michael Karoli (guitar) and Jaki Liebezei (drums) CAN officially formed in Cologne, Germany (then-West Germany) in 1967. With the release of 1969’s Monster Movie, 1971’s Tago Mago, 1972’s Ege Bamyasi and 1973’s Future Days the German experimental act collaborated with a number of vocalists including Malcolm Mooney (1968-1970), Damo Suzuki (1970-1973) and a rotating cast of musicians and wound up developing a reputation for an imitable sound that possessed elements of avant garde and modern classical composition, minimalism, electronica, world music, psych rock and funk, while being widely hailed as pioneers of the German krautrock movement. And because of their eclectic, genre-defying sound the band’s influence has been massive and can be traced in the work of acts like Joy Division, Primal Scream, Radiohead and avant-garde composer Bernhard Lang, among others.
Throughout the band’s history — the bulk being a continuous run from 1967 or so – 1979 with the members of the band reconvening periodically over the past 30 years — the band has released a number of singles, some which have appeared on the band’s albums and others that have not. And to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s formation, Mute Records will be releasing CAN The Singles, a compilation featuring all the band’s single releases, including “Shikako Maru Ten,” a B side to the “Spoon,” a top ten hit in their native Germany back in 1972 and it’ll be available for the first time ever digitally. Interestingly, the single manages to possess a percussive and breezy arrangement that sounds as though it were influenced by Brazilian samba and Afro-Cuban/Afro-Caribbean jazz, further reminding listeners of the band’s reputation for being defiantly difficult to pigeonhole and being relentlessly, mischievously experimental with their sound and approach.