"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Mojo JULY 2006 - by Jim Irvin
SPRECHEN SIE EUROCK?
...Asks Jim Irvin outside a nuclear power plant in mid-'70s Germany.
Krautrock was the name Faust gave to the abrasive twelve-minute drone that opened their album Faust IV and which accurately represented the genre's commonly expressed aim: exclusively European music, betraying no trace of Anglo-American rock's blues roots. Certainly Can's Holger Czukay claimed this was the impulse behind his group. Not that the most adventurous of all the - let's broaden it out - Eurockers were merely parochial. Jaki Liebezeit's neo-African drumming always gave Can's urban clout a fluidity, and by their final albums, bustling polyrhythms and airy jazz dominated. Most of these (bar 1978's airbrushed-out-of-history Out Of Reach) now return, remastered, on Mute. When it connects, this music has a buoyant appeal that wasn't part of Can's earlier remit, so those who loved the group's industrial hypnotics found these apparent lapses into MOR jams, reggae, even an electro version of the Can-Can on Can (1979), hard to enjoy Flow Motion (1976) opens with the finest moment of their latter period: I Want More, a truly profound nugget of dance-pop, baffling to many Can fans at the time and a signal that their dream of Eurock had been abandoned in favour of engaging a wider world.
Saw Delight (1977) is where they're generally thought to lose that original plot completely, having been infiltrated by extra bass player Rosko Gee and percussionist Reebop, both late of Traffic. What this line-up actually conjured is Talking Heads' Remain In Light years before the fact, a rhythmic stew of intercontinental grooves, though much less self-consciously voguish.
Maybe that album tipped off Heads' cohort Brian Eno, much as Cluster's Cluster 71 (Water) helped alert him to ambient music. Cluster - Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius produced by the visionary Conny Plank - were utterly Eurock. Music as sexy as dismantling a nuclear power plant.
While in Germany Cluster, Faust and Can were gazing inwards, elsewhere in 1971 Eurock was sowing wilder oats. Italian Lucio Battisti was making Amore E Non Amore (Water), a pan-musical oddity which resembles a warm and bizarre lost Brazilian classic, with impassioned, eccentric singing and all kinds of sexy guitars. A cult gem, long overdue wider acclaim outside Battisti's motherland.