Flow Motion

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Flow Motion
Can-Flow Motion (album cover).jpg
Studio album by
Released October 1976
Recorded June 1976
Length 37:37
Label Harvest, Virgin, Spoon, Mute
Producer Can
Can chronology
Unlimited Edition
Flow Motion
Saw Delight
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[3]

Flow Motion is the eighth Can studio album, and features the UK hit single "I Want More".

Recording and production

Recording sessions for what would become Flow Motion began at Can's Inner Space Studio in Cologne in the spring of 1976. Since their latest album, the band had been recording on a state of the art 16-track machine, which had changed the dynamics of the group and the way they recorded. Instead of playing everything live together, different members could now record their parts separately. This, and their embracing of rhythms (especially disco) on Flow Motion that were unpopular with rock music fans, is likely the reason why this album was not as well received by fans and critics when it first appeared.[4]

Flow Motion was mixed using "Artificial Head" binaural stereo.[5]

The cover features a photograph taken by band member Michael Karoli.


Throughout their career, Can had always experimented with a number of different rhythms. With Flow Motion, the band became more playful, adding disco and reggae to this list.[6] Apart from the new rhythms, the influence of recording with 16 tracks meant there are multiple guitar lines from Michael Karoli, and Irmin Schmidt's keyboards also come to the fore, providing much of the shimmering and shiny atmosphere that is found throughout the album.

A disco vibe dominates the opening track "I Want More", which is short, catchy and danceable. The song was released as a single and became a hit, reaching number 26 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1976.[7] The band even appeared on Top of the Pops to perform the song.[8]

Reggae infuses most of the rest of the album, although Can experiments with rhythm and instrumentation, rather than playing it straight. This is exemplified on "Cascade Waltz", which combines a reggae beat with a waltz, and on "Laugh Till You Cry, Live Till You Die", which features guitarist Karoli playing the Turkic bağlama.

After the reprise of the opening track "...And More", which finished side one of the original vinyl album, Can opens side two with "Babylonian Pearl", which evocative of Can's "Come Sta, La Luna" on Soon Over Babaluma. The song's vocals are handled by Irmin Schmidt, and speak about a girl who "comes from a land where woman is man". This, and all of the other lyrics on this album, were written by Peter Gilmour, the band's live sound engineer.

The next song, the gloomy-sounding "Smoke (E.F.S. Nr. 59)", is more experimental, with Jaki Liebezeit's intense ethnic tom-tom beat driving the song forward.

Another experimental track, the lengthy and unrestrained "Flow Motion", closes the album.

Reception and influence

The more accessible nature of Flow Motion, and its flirtation with disco, meant this album was not well received at the time of its release. Fans couldn't have enjoyed seeing the band playing disco, lip-synching and dancing to Top of the Pops, especially as rock fans generally hated disco in the 1970s.[9]

Many fans felt that Can had abandoned its experimentation and innovation,[10] with artists such as Brian Eno and David Bowie, being influenced by and taking krautrock into a new era. To put this in perspective, Bowie's Station to Station was released the same year as Flow Motion.

Flow Motion, however, has subsequently been re-assessed, with Magnet Magazine labelling it a "hidden gem" in 2012.[11]

Track listing

Side one
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "I Want More" Peter Gilmour Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 3:29
2. "Cascade Waltz" Peter Gilmour Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 5:35
3. "Laugh Till You Cry, Live Till You Die" Peter Gilmour Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 6:43
4. "...And More" none Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 2:43
Side two
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
5. "Babylonian Pearl" Peter Gilmour Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 3:29
6. "Smoke (E.F.S. No. 59)" none Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 5:15
7. "Flow Motion" none Czukay, Karoli, Liebezeit, Schmidt 10:23


  • Holger Czukay – bass, djin on "Smoke", backing vocals on "I Want More", "…And More" and "Smoke"
  • Michael Karoli – guitars, slide guitar, electric violin on "Cascade Waltz", bağlama on "Laugh Until You Cry", background noise on "Smoke", lead vocals on "Cascade Waltz" and "Laugh Until You Cry", backing vocals on "I Want More", "…And More" and "Flow Motion"
  • Jaki Liebezeit – drums, percussion, backing vocals on "I Want More", "…And More"
  • Irmin Schmidt – keyboard, Alpha 77, lead vocals on "Babylonian Pearl" and "I Want More" and "…And More"

Produced by Can. "Cascade Waltz" was produced by Can and Simon Puxley.

The album was recorded at Inner Space Studio, Weilerswist, near Cologne by Holger Czukay and René Tinner and was mixed by Manfred Schunke at Delta Acoustic Studio, Wilster, Germany.


  1. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Can: Flow Motion > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Can". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958.
  3. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
  4. ^ "Magnet Magazine". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  5. ^ Flow Motion (CD back cover). Can. discogs.com. 1993. SPOON CD26. Retrieved 2016-07-19.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ "Magnet Magazine". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  7. ^ EveryHit.com
  8. ^ "Can - I want more / ...and more (TOTP, Sept. 30,1976)". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  9. ^ "Why Did 70s Rock Music Hate Disco So Much?". Noisey. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  10. ^ "George Starostin's Reviews". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  11. ^ "Magnet Magazine". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
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