Every Record I Own - Day 181: Can Flow Motion
Flow Motion was the first Can album I purchased, scooped out of a used CD bin for $5 sometime in the mid-’00s from a long-departed record store on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I didn’t know much about Can, aside from hearing “Vitamin C” and a few tracks off of Delay 1968. I had no idea I was purchasing one of the much-maligned later albums by the German band.
And sure enough, I was disappointed. Opening track “I Want More”, with it’s disco-inspired four-on-the-floor drum beat, choppy rhythm guitar, and keyboard leads felt like the antithesis of the trippy experimental music the band was known for. The occasional blast of keyboard noise couldn’t detract from the syrupy swing of “Cascade Waltz”. And then there was the Euro-reggae pop of “Laugh Till You Cry, Live Till You Die”. It was like some horrid mashup of Ace of Base and the worst moments of The Police. Only the ominous tribal drum instrumental “Smoke (E.F.S. #59)” had any of the mystery and atmosphere I expected.
The reggae-and-disco-infused Flow Motion was met with disappointment by krautrock fans. That didn’t keep “I Want More” from catching on with mainstream audiences and cracking the UK charts, but that was almost more of a reason to hate on it. Can played Top of the Pops?! Fuuuuck that. But I kept my Flow Motion CD and every so often would give it another spin, eventually causing my husband to develop an affinity for it. It slowly grew on me as well, and now, even though it’s an underwhelming Can album, it’s a really really fun disco record. The band dabbled in every other niche of music, so why shouldn’t they fuck with pop?
I don’t recommend this as an entry point for folks looking to get into the freakier end of krautrock, but if you want to listen to something dance-driven that still has some crooked melodies and smart instrumentation, this is a pretty fun record.