Mute and Spoon Records will issue The Lost Tapes by Can—the best rock band that's not American or British; maybe the best rock band ever, when we're in a certain mood—in a 5XLP box set on Dec. 4. The tracks on these records were forgotten about for decades, but were unearthed when Can's studio in Weilerswist was sold to the German Rock N Pop Museum.

Some of the long-lost material (from 1968-1977) rivals some of the legendary krautrock group's greatest efforts—which means that it's better than just about everything ever recorded in the rock realm—yes, even your band. Few groups could match Can's rhythmic inventiveness and precision, their odd melodic capabilities, and their telepathic jamming prowess—skills that have made them one of the most influential units in the world. Plus, Can had Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki on the mic at various points during their tenure—unique throat artists whose timbres took the band down very different but very rewarding avenues. You know, The Lost Tapes would make a fab Kwanzaa gift. (Tip!)

Press release after the jump.

Mute and Spoon are delighted to announce that, due to phenomenal demand, Can’s The Lost Tapes will be released as a 5 LP box set on 180g vinyl on December 4th, 2012.

The Lost Tapes was curated by Irmin Schmidt and Daniel Miller, compiled by Irmin Schmidt and Jono Podmore and edited by Jono Podmore. The vinyl issue of The Lost Tapes will come with a 24” square poster and a 28 page booklet with sleeve notes by Irmin Schmidt and Ian Harrison.

‘Lost Tapes’ were discovered when the legendary Can studio in Weilerswist was sold to the German Rock N Pop Museum. The new owners sentimentally preserved everything, including the army mattresses that covered the walls for sound protection, and relocated it to Gronau.

Whilst dismantling the studio, master tapes were found and stored in the Spoon archive. With barely legible labeling, no one was sure what was on these until Irmin Schmidt and long time collaborator Jono Podmore started to go through over fifty hours of music.

What they found was years of archived material—not outtakes, but rather tracks which had been shelved for a variety of reasons – soundtracks to films that were never released and tracks that didn’t make it onto the final versions of albums due to space.

Irmin Schmidt explains “Obviously the tapes weren't really lost, but were left in the cupboards of the studio archives for so long everybody just forgot about them. Everybody except Hildegard, who watches over Can and its work like the dragon over the gold of the Nibelungen and doesn't allow forgetting.”

The final cut of tracks, dating from 1968-1977, features studio material recorded at Schloss Nörvenich and Can Studio, Weilerswist with the Can line up of Holger Czukay on bass, Michael Karoli on guitars, Jaki Liebezeit on drums and Irmin Schmidt on keyboards, and on most tracks, vocals from Malcolm Mooney or Damo Suzuki.

Can was formed by ex-student of Stockhausen Irmin Schmidt, who, fired by the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa abandoned his career in classic music to form a group which could utilise and transcend all boundaries of ethnic, electronic experimental and modern classical music.

Can’s influence is well known and far-reaching and the impact they made on music is felt today as keenly as it ever has been. They themselves have always been impossible to classify and reflecting this, the scope of artists who in recent years have cited Can as a major influence is varied from John Lydon to Radiohead, The Fall to Portishead.
Richard Hawley: "Can are impossible to classify and its impossible to ignore their seismic influence on so many diverse musical paths, I'm so glad what was lost has been found"

Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite: "I can honestly say that there isn't another band who sound like Can. Their music was of a future that we haven't yet arrived at. Influencing people with their ambition more than just music we're incredibly lucky to have found even more of their music to wonder at. God bless Can."

New Order’s Stephen Morris: "Can are the most revolutionary band ever, hearing Monster Movie for the first time was like stepping into another world. You Doo Right is the reason I took up the drums in the first place. It's not a song, it's a journey. I love everything they have ever done."

Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming: "Can are, along with very few others, what I consider to be the zenith of how a group can play together; loose and sensuous, but tightly coiled and always ready to go off; academically trained but gloriously, beautifully casual. I'm not at all surprised that unheard-of recordings exist, they sound like they just did it, every day."

Factory Floor’s Gabe Gurnsey: "Can is pure escapism. I have great memories of driving back through the British countryside after FF recording sessions listening to 'Oh Yeah' over and over, dancing to 'I Want More' in the early hours and wishing I'd written 'Quantum Physics'. Repetition is the platform for free thinking, something we try to mirror in Factory Floor."

With a phenomenal canon of work that includes Tago Mago, which celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2011, The Lost Tapes is an opportunity to hear unreleased material from this iconic band – whoever thought that would be possible?