Monday, 22 April 2013

Stephen Malkmus & Von Spar - Can's Ege Bamyasi

Stephen Malkmus isn't necessarily known for his experimental output; however the Pavement guitarist covered Can's Ege Bamyasi in full last year with German band Von Spar. He may get the credit for igniting a generation of plaid wearing tweens, but he hasn't quite been a master of the arts like his 80s predecessor Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. So Malkmus played Ege Bamyasi in full last year in Cologne, Germany. It was recorded and here we are. What's quite special about this release isn't the in-full, detailed track by track cover of Ege Bamyasi, but the way it's been played. The concert was recorded and the finished project is a live cover of one of the most influential records of all time. It's astounding to think of a band performing this album in full, on one night with Pavement's Stephen Malkmus of course.

A member of the audience shouts: "Thank you for doing this," to which Malkmus gracefully replies: "Hey it's our pleasure, and deepest respects to the group, top 10 best ever, maybe even top three, right after Elvis." As someone near the back whispers... And The Fall.

Can's Ege Bamyasi is one of those unique albums not for covering. Surprisingly Malkmus and Von Spar pull it off. Beck tried to do it with The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Flaming Lips with Dark Side of The Moon, neither had conviction in their attempts. This is certainly a hard album to cover, and these fans pull it off fantastically. The clarity in Malkmus' voice on "Pinch", his shrieks on "Vitamin C", it all goes together with Von Spar's perfect musical accompaniment. It's not a perfect cover, but "Vitamin C" especially has fantastic written all over it. Malkmus is no Damo Suzuki, his vocals are not as powerful or important as Suzuki's, but Malkmus still manages to keep the listener interested and doesn't ruin one of Can's best records.

Mark E. Smith is an avid fan of Can, naming Can to be one of The Fall's direct influences, including the track titled "I Am Damo Suzuki" on The Fall's This Nation's Saving Grace which namedrops Can albums and Suzuki antics. Malkmus has been inspired by both Suzuki and Mark E Smith. One could only image Ege Bamyasi being covered by The Fall, well Smith would pull that off too.

Can's Ege Bamyasi finds its way on a Record Store Day vintage release for fans of Can, post-punk and Malkmus' past projects. He fits the role of Suzuki and delivers what is a respectable cover album. He doesn't add a take on the classic, he's keeping it simple, in a mind-numbing way seeing as Ege Bamyasi is not a simple album. Other than his accent difference, the tracklist has been changed, which i'm not too happy with if I'm honest. If you're covering an album in full, you might as well follow the order of intention. This is essentially a good listen for fans of Can, to see how a different artist fares covering one of the Germans most appreciated albums.