Jan 27, 2013

Sundaze 1304

Hello, Sundaze time again, I hope last week's Inside Out is still impacting, nevertheless the daze continues on into the realm of a maverick German who ended up founding the progenitors of Krautrock, Can a band that exerted a considerable influence on avant-garde, experimental, underground, ambient, punk, post-punk, new wave and electronic music. By 76 the band dissolved and our man stepped out of the shadows in 79 releasing his first solo album, Movies here to try .... N'Joy

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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.  The rest of the decade saw 3 albums released with his wife Ursula (U-She/Ursa Major) Time And Tide (01), The New Millennium (03), 21st Century in 2007.

In 2009, after a problematic time with the record company that had been gradually re-releasing his albums on CD, Czukay began a new collaboration with the Claremont 56 record label, releasing vinyl only remixes of tracks from earlier albums, as well as some new recordings. This approach has caused changes to Czukay's plans for his back catalogue, so that the original albums The East Is Red,  Rome Remains Rome  and Moving Pictures will not be reissued (master tapes degraded beyond repair). Instead, most of the tracks are being remade and newly organized as limited edition vinyl releases. Update Holger Czukay was found dead, his body was discovered inside his apartment on 5 September 2017.

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Holger Czukay's first post-Can solo album finds the bass player exploring prog rock jams with varied instrumentation, song-oriented lyrics, and media samples from film, television, and short-wave. It was the samples that put Czukay in the same category as David Byrne and Brian Eno: an art rocker exploring the early days concurrently with early hip-hop pioneers (or alternately, a white man exploiting the culture of the third world, depending on who you read). On "Persian Love," Czukay backs up clips of an Iranian singer recorded off the short-wave with lilting guitar and keyboard riffs that sparkle like light. The album is all pleasant, playful textures, with little of the darkness that Can dallied with.

Holger Czukay - Movies (flac  240mb)

01 Cool In The Pool 5:03
02 Oh Lord Give Us More Money 13:26
03 Persian Love 6:26
04 Hollywood Symphony 15:02

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Rome Remains Rome' is ex-Can bassist's 5th solo recording, and features very quirky compositions, not as eccentric as his previous releases, but his trademark editing, sudden interjections of sounds and various instruments are still distinct features of this album, albeit well and truly in 80's fashion. Starring some of his Can colleagues - Jaki Liebezeit on drums/perc, piano and trumpet, and Michael Karoli on guitar (though I can only discern his playing style on 'Perfect World'), along with Jah Wobble on Bass and vocals, Sheldon Ancel - vocals and Ollie Marland on guitar and piano. Holger himself handles vox, guitar, organ, ABS-Bass (?), French Horn, synths and radio. The LP has 3 tracks per side, and I find each side is arranged in similar style, i.e. - first song on both sides are short 'pop' songs done Czukay style (Hey Baba Reebop, Hit Hit Flop Flop) and contain odd samples and childish singing - both are amusing and entertaining, though not what you'd expect from a renowned Krautrocker. The second tracks on each side (Blessed Easter, Perfect World) are lengthy groove-based pieces, Blessed Easter has a laid-back bluesy feel with some lovely organ touches, and Perfect World has a real swing to it. All the while, a lot of peculiar edits abound, with many 'foreign' recordings and 'radio' receptions strategically incorporated into the mix. The last songs on each side are what I like best ; 'Sudetenland' is the most Can-like, with Jaki's superb drumming, and great bass riffs throughout (most likely Wobble's playing) - excellent track, and 'Music in the Air' is a dark and brooding ambient piece, and quite a surprise.

Holger Czukay - Rome Remains Rome And Excerpts From Der Osten Ist Rot (flac 384mb)

Rome Remains Rome
01 Hey Baba Rebop 3:49
02 Blessed Easter 8:52
03 Sudetenland 7:21
04 Hit Hit Flop Flop 3:34
05 Perfect World 11:29
06 Music In The Air 5:14
Der Osten Ist Rot
07 Der Osten Ist Rot (The East Is Red) 5:55
08 Das Massenmedium 3:52
09 The Photo Song 3:40
10 Rhonrad 1:36
11 Michy 3:41
12 Esperanto Socialiste 1:38
13 Traum Mal Wieder 7:26

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It seems to me that certain types of albums almost create themselves. In such cases the composer is merely the conduit for a pre-existing energy waiting to be transformed into sound. My experience with La Luna was very much like that. The album (a single 45 minute track) is in many ways a product of something similar to the automatic writing techniques of the Surrealists. I had purchased a new sampler and began experimenting with the machine without reference to the instruction manual and filled the brain of the machine to its full capacity with 'sonic memories'. In the late hours of the evening the machine came to life and spoke! The recording you hear is the transcript of this transcendental conversation between man and machine.

Slow burning is the operative phrase here. Starting from a low, mechanical din, Czukay slowly shifts the direction through undercurrents of estranged voices, string drones, glockenspiel chatter, slippery electro beats, and detached rhythmic patterns that seep into the sound field. All the while, the ominous tone of some ambient factory speaks of an eventual, chilling payoff. Halfway in, you are still heading for some uncertain conclusion, drifting about the music's dark fog. As you search your memory for a turnoff you may have missed, a soft, female voice whispers "La Luna...goddess of the moon," entering into an ode to the power of the song's subject. The music never recovers, becoming fragmented and tripping up before receding into the mist once again. The text, while significant to the concept, seems out of character in this setting, distracting from the music Czukay has so carefully crafted. Thankfully, the spoken word only takes up a small portion, allowing the listener to focus on a musical construction worth revisiting.

Holger Czukay - La Luna (flac 265mb)

01 La Luna 46:12
Bonus Track
02 La Lu Na 7:46

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Holger Czukay - On The Way To The Peak Of Normal (flac 189mb)

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ric said...

Great, thank you
I remember he did some very interesting things with Jah Wobble, which have been considered as 'avant-garde' in the early 80's..
Btw, do you have On The Way To The Peak Of Normal in flac or lossless format ?

Anonymous said...

many thanks and very much appreciated.

i know it's a cliche, but i do like his earlier music a lot more than his later stuff.

but to be honest, the fact that he's still making interesting music long after he got his seniors bus pass is still pretty amazing.


Rho said...

Hello Ric, why don't you check the post again, at the bottom you'll find your wish fulfilled

ric said...

hum, some kind of troll or elf must have hidden the link on my screen..

Anonymous said...

um... er... any chance of you reposting Holger Czukay's Rome Remains Rome (And Excerpts From Der Osten Ist Rot)? The link seems to have expired from non-use. More's the pity. Sigh.

many thanks

5eyes said...

Thanks for the Rome Remains Rome (And Excerpts From Der Osten Ist Rot) re-up.

Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the Holger Czukay. Would you have the original Der Osten Ist Rot in your library by any chance? I've been looking for it for quite awhile now, but have yet to find a working link. However, the excerpts are very much appreciated.

Mick said...

Can you reup Movies Rho? netkups.com is dead and fuckin gone. Thanks.

Alexander Schmidt said...

Could you re up please! Thank you! Holger Czukay left this planet on 5. September 2017 to Jam in the Ether with his Can bandmates Jaki Liebezeit (22.Jan.2017) and Michael Karoli (17 November 2001)

Anonymous said...

Hi Rho

Is it possible to re-upload the Czukay solo albums?

Thank you very much