No Future in Can’s “Future Days”: Prog Rock Countdown #8

No Future in Can’s “Future Days”: Prog Rock Countdown #8

Future Days Album Cover.jpg

A link between progressive music and video game music (VGM) is obvious to those of us who enjoy both genres, and the connection runs pretty deep. Scour the internet on the subject and you’ll find plenty of posts and articles discussing some surprising similarities between favourite video game themes and obscure or not-so-obscure prog tracks. One such overlap that grabs my attention is how the eerie keyboard section of the “Black Omen” theme in Chrono Trigger reproduces the keyboards from the outro to Supertramp’s “Child of Vision”.

Direct inspiration accounts for many of the noticeable points of connection between prog and VGM; beyond that, both forms are often designed to provide an ambient effect – a mood that can serve as a backdrop for other experiences. Neither genre does this all the time. VGM runs the gamut from purely ambient sounds to large-scale orchestral pieces that make you want to put the controller down and just listen. Prog likewise is varied in its approach to sound. There are bands that require your full attention to understand and appreciate their music, while others provide diverse soundscapes that perfectly complement other experiences, such as writing blog posts or playing video games.   

Can seems to fit into this latter category, based on my experience of Future Days. In fact, I was brought back to a specific game, Donkey Kong Country (DKC) because of the variety of percussive instruments and the jazzy feel of this whole album, especially with the slowly building percussive intro in the tile track, and the overall vibe of the album’s 20-minute-long fourth and final track, "Bel-Air." You could stick the DKC track “Jungle Groove” onto this album and it might be indistinguishable from the Can songs, at least until after the first minute.    

Dancing Kong.gif

I went in very excited to listen to this album since it is the first on the list that is completely new to me. Why this is ranked number eight, though, is a mystery. There are plenty of interesting flourishes and arrangements here, but it all blends together into a mass of background music that never truly grabs my attention. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into these songs and that the band was working out fresh ideas. I can’t find anything to dislike in the album, but nor is it essential listening.

“Future Days” is firmly on the psychedelic end of the prog spectrum, though it also blends in jazz, funk, and world elements; I like my prog rocky and with a stronger pop sensibility. I’ve been sort of enjoying having this on in the background over the last week, but like even the best VGM, it’s easy to get lost in another experience and forget the music is even there.  

 Rolling Stone Rankings                       

  1. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

  2. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

  3. Rush - Moving Pictures

  4. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

  5. Yes – Close to the Edge

  6. Genesis - Selling England by the Pound

  7. Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

  8. Can - Future Days

ASK Rankings

  1. Yes – Close to the Edge

  2. Genesis - Selling England by the Pound

  3. Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

  4. Rush - Moving Pictures

  5. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

  6. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

  7. Can - Future Days

  8. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

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