INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Electronic Sound APRIL 2018 - by Carl Griffin
HOLGER CZUKAY: CINEMA
Deluxe solo retrospective in honour of Can man and sample pioneer supreme
If there's one thing that could be said about Holger Czukay, the singular compositional magician who sadly died last year, is that he never once compromised. An instinctive experimentalist, he probably never made a bean. His inclination to the new even became too much for his Can bandmates, booting him out in 1977 after failing to note the prescience of his decision to replace his bass for a "Sound Table", which facilitated the addition of radio broadcasts and even live phone calls to performances.
The avant-garde was in Czukay's blood (he studied under Stockhausen after all) and in many respects was its German epitome. Check the two tracks included here from 1969's Canaxis 5 for early proof. Recorded in Stockhausen's studio using recycled tape, the album's trailblazing approach put sampling at its centre, melding distorted church choirs with traditional Vietnamese voices recorded from short wave radio broadcasts making Boat Woman Song an hypnotic, mildly unsettling future-incantation. It's an exemplary entrée into the solo and collaborative work Czukay produced away from Can, who he of course co-founded. This year would've been the fiftieth anniversary of their inception by the way and also Czukay's eightieth birthday, hence the timing of this exceptionally packaged five-disc set.
Covering a fifty-year recording period across thirty-four tracks (include the fine work he did with the likes of Stockhausen, Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, Eno and Conny Plank) it's a retrospective named after the Inner Space studio, the former cinema in Weilerswist, just outside Cologne, that served at his home and work space from the early 1970s. But it's surely also named in part-homage to his 1979 long-player and solo apogee, Movies, four tracks of which comprise an entire disc here.
Cool In The Pool (disco-pop exploratory, slinky and bit daft) reminds us of Czukay's sense of fun. Persian Love though, is extraordinary. With a beautifully light, spiritual touch, it splices poppy Afrobeat elements with subtle snippets of traditional Farsi songs sung on Radio Tehran, to surely form the inspirational template for Eno and Byrne's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. Ahead of the curve then? Too right. Listen in wonder