A founding member of the enormously influential Krautrock group Can, Holger Czukay was one of the pivotal underground figures of his era; over the course of his long, expansive career, Czukay successfully bridged the gap between pop and the avant-garde, pioneering the use of samples and exploring the significance of world music on Western culture.
Czukay was born in Danzig (now Gdansk) on March 24, 1938. After falling in love with music at a young age, he spent his formative years studying to be a composer and conductor, but his ideas were frequently too radical for mainstream tastes; after being disqualified from one jazz festival for his "unclassifiable music," he was later expelled from Berlin's Music Academy for similar artistic insolence. He studied music under avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1963 to 1966, where he continued to refine his ideas, and soon became a teacher himself. Initially Czukay had little interest in rock music, but this changed when a student, Michael Karoli played him The Beatles' 1967 song "I Am The Walrus," opening his ears to music by rock experimentalists like the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa.
After picking up the bass, Czukay teamed with Karoli, fellow Stockhausen protege Irmin Schmidt, drummer Jaki Liebezeit and American-born vocalist Malcolm Mooney, and in early 1968 the group Inner Space was formed. Quickly renamed Can, in 1969 they released their debut Monster Movie, the first in a series of visionary albums establishing the band as one of the truly seminal artists of the period. At much the same time, Czukay teamed with Rolf Dammers to release an LP titled Canaxis 5, instituting both primitive sampling techniques (achieved with tape splices) and worldbeat influences; sculpted from thousands of recordings dubbed from short-wave radio broadcasts, the album employed samples from a number of international sources, and consequently positioned Czukay as an early proponent of world music appropriation.
After 1976's Flow Motion, Can disbanded, and three years later Czukay issued his debut solo effort Movies, a marked refinement of his short-wave sonic collage techniques, which became his trademark . The use of shortwave radio sounds and his early pioneering of sampling, in those days involving the painstaking cutting and splicing of magnetic tapes. He would tape-record various sounds and snippets from shortwave and incorporate them into his compositions. In addition to critical raves, "Movies" won considerable interest throughout the musical community, and Czukay subsequently began work on a number of outside projects, he teamed with Jaki Liebezeit and bassist Jah Wobble for the LP Full Circle and the club hit "How Much Are They." Through Wobble, Czukay also met the Japanese singer Phew, and along with Liebezeit and producer Conny Plank they recorded the 1982 album Phew.
Czukay's next official solo release was 1982's On the Way to the Peak of Normal, another collaboration with Wobble assembled from sessions with the Dusseldorf-based band SYPH. 1984's Der Osten Ist Rot and 1987's Rome Remains Rome (featuring the controversial "Blessed Easter," which contained a sample of Pope John Paul II) followed, although Czukay spent the majority of the mid-decade involved in a variety of production work. In 1988 he teamed with David Sylvian for the lovely Plight and Premonition; which the duo followed up the next year with Flux + Mutability, Czukay re-formed Can to record a new studio LP, Rite Time. Czukay used shortwave as a live, interactive musical instrument on 1991's Radio Wave Surfer, a method of composition he termed radio painting. Apart from that and 1993's Moving Pictures, Czukay spent much of the 1990s removed from performing, nevertheless in 97 he released a live album, "Clash" . He mainly focused instead on production work before releasing Good Morning Story (his first studio album in six years) in 1999. This was followed by La Luna (2000) Linear City 2001 , an internet project working on a a recording of Sudanese Zar ceremonies. And time and Tide (2001).
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H.Czukay - On The Way To The Peak of Normal ( 81 flac 189mb)
After Movies, Czukay continued exploring the methods of sampling and laid-back jamming on this follow-up. The opening track, the side-long "Ode to Perfume/Fragrance" coasts along on some heavily twangy guitar, short-wave static, treated vocals, and drunken trumpet, all in a hypnotic late-night groove. This first half of the album is played entirely by Czukay, except for Jaki Liebezeit's trademark metronomic drumming, and in many ways it's a revelation. This is when the album most obviously picks up where 'Movies' let off, but the snippets of TV and radio are largely absent, barring a brief vocal sample in the first couple of minutes. Fragrance picks the theme back up and works in some vocoder to interesting effect. The whole thing has a slightly funky motorik feel, and makes an excellent soundtrack for a workout (Czukay himself recommended listening to it on headphones while roller skating!). The title track was recorded with members of S.Y.P.H., and is an atmospheric piece with a drum machine beat and fragments of radio interference fleshing out the minimal improvisation. The album closes with the dark, mysterious Hiss 'n' Listen, featuring Jah Wobble on bass and whispered vocals by Czukay.
01 - Ode To Perfume (18:00)
02 - On The Way To The Peak Of Normal (7:33)
03 - Witches' Multiplication Table (4:51)
04 - Two Bass Shuffle (2:15)
05 - Hiss 'n' Listen (3:50)
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David Sylvian and Holger Czukay are fairly eclectic and diverse musicians. In the European ambient scene, they are fixtures.
With Plight & Premonition they deliver some pure soundscaping, ambience that contains little flecks and fragments of other sonic encounters, like glimpsing little details in the landscape as you speed along in a perpetual twilight, dark, lush, droning, and chasm-deep. Flux & Mutability is a complete contrast to its predecessor, it overflows with dreamy synth tones and pleasant atmospheres. It's a radiant ambience that still doesn't captivate all your attention, but creeps into your consciousness before you realize what's happened. "Flux" is "a big, bright, colorful world" and "Mutability" is "a new beginning...in the offing." These pieces are deep, expansive atmospheres with eerie samples and vacuous walls of sound. The second piece features only guitars, keyboards, and an African flute. The first piece has a much wider sound. It is a safe bet that it has the only ambient flugelhorn ever (by Markus Stockhausen). The real essence of this disc comes from the sound design, mixing, and processing. Aural mysticism at a very high level of expression - perfect for meditating or just chilling.
David Sylvian - Holger Czukay - Plight and Premonition ( 88 flac 143mb)
1 - Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts) (18:30)
2 - Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel) (16:21)
David Sylvian - Holger Czukay - Flux and Mutability ( 89 flac 158mb)
3 - Flux (A Big, Bright, Colourful World) (16:52)
4 - Mutability ("A New Beginning Is In The Offing") (21:02
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