Holger Czukay — Cinema (23. 03. 2018) •★• A founding member of influential Krautrock band Can who went on to a groundbreaking exploratory solo career.
•★• German label Grönland has announced the release of Cinema, a retrospective box set commemorating the work of the late bassist and Can founder member Holger Czukay. Cinema will explore Czukay’s extensive solo catalogue, as well as his most significant collaborations with the likes of Brian Eno, Jah Wobble and Karlheinz Stockhausen, among others. It will also include previously unreleased music.
Born: March 24, 1938 in Gdańsk, Poland
Died: September 5, 2017 in Weilerswist, Germany
Album release: 23.03. 2018
Record Label: Grönland
1. Holger Schüring Quintett — Konfigurationen (1960, previously unreleased)
2. Technical Space Composer’s Crew — Canaxis (1969, Canaxis 5)
3. Technical Space Composer’s Crew — Boat Woman Song (1969, Canaxis 5)
4. Cluster & Eno — Ho Renomo (1977, Cluster & Eno)
1. Holger Czukay — Oh Lord Give Us More Money (1979, Movies)
2. Holger Czukay — Persian Love (1979, Movies)
3. Holger Czukay — Cool In The Pool (1979, Movies)
4. Holger Czukay — Hollywood Symphony (1979, Movies)
5. Les Vampyrettes (Czukay/Plank) — Biomutanten (1980, Les Vampyrettes)
1. Les Vampyrettes (Czukay/Plank) — Menetekel (1980, Les Vampyrettes)
2. Phew (Phew/Czukay/Liebezeit/Plank) — Signal (1981, Phew)
3. Holger Czukay — Witches Multiplication Table (1981, On The Way To To Peak Of Normal)
4. Holger Czukay — On The Way To The Peak Of Normal (1981, On The Way To To Peak Of Normal)
5. Holger Czukay — Ode To Perfume (1981, On The Way To To Peak Of Normal)
6. Holger Czukay – Two Bass Shuffle (1981, On The Way To To Peak Of Normal)
7. Holger Czukay/Jaki Liebezeit/Jah Wobble — How Much Are They? (1982, Full Circle)
1. Holger Czukay/Jaki Liebezeit/Jah Wobble — Trench Warfare (1982, Full Circle)
2. Holger Czukay/Jaki Liebezeit/Jah Wobble — Full Circle R.P.S. (No. 7) (1982, Full Circle)
3. Holger Czukay/Jaki Liebezeit/Jah Wobble — Twilight World (1982, Full Circle)
4. Holger Czukay — The Photo Song (1984, Der Osten Ist Rot)
5. Holger Czukay — Der Osten Ist Rot (1984, Der Osten Ist Rot)
6. Holger Czukay — Das Massenmedium (1984, Der Osten Ist Rot)
7. Holger Czukay — Träum Mal Wieder (1984, Der Osten Ist Rot)
8. Holger Czukay — Hey Baba Reebop (1987, Rome Remains Rome)
9. Holger Czukay — Hit Hit Flop Flop (1987, Rome Remains Rome)
1. Holger Czukay — Perfect World (1987, Rome Remains Rome)
2. Holger Czukay — Music In The Air (1987, Rome Remains Rome)
3. Holger Czukay — Ride A Radiowave (1991, Radio Wave Surfer)
4. Holger Czukay — We Can Fight All Night (1991, Radio Wave Surfer)
5. Holger Czukay — Through The Freezing Snow (1991, Radio Wave Surfer)
6. Holger Czukay w/ Karlheinz Stockhausen — Breath Taking (2008, Second Life, previously unreleased)
7. Holger Czukay & U~She — La Premiere (2008, Second Life)
8. Holger Czukay / Ursa Major — 21st Century (2007, 21st Century)
9. Bison (Czukay/Murphy/Smith) — Mandy (2004, Travellers)
•★• 5 Vinyls containing an overview on Holgers solo work and collaborations
a lush 36page booklet with the liner notes and lovely pictures, some unpublished (Corbijn etc)
•★• A DVD with a film that was made for German television in the 80s starring Holger as the main character, he also made the soundtrack for this movie.
•★• A VinylVideo
Weight: 2.5 kg
Dimensions: 60 x 30 x 15 cm
by Daniel Martin~McCormick, MARCH 26 2018. Score: 9
•★• Less than a year after the Can co~founder’s death, this generous box set lights a path through his sprawling catalog and confirms both his genius and his prescience.
•★• It’s all there in the eyes: impish and gleaming, the gaze both cooly challenging and warmly inviting. On the cover of his debut solo LP, Movies, Holger Czukay stares us down via his own reflection in a TV screen. Dressed like a lounge lizard and sporting his signature handlebar mustache, the television shows what might be footage of a bombed-out war zone, his face reflected in chiaroscuro above a spire of billowing black smoke and ominous clouds. Critical, sorrowful, inquisitive, stoned — it’s hard to get a read, but there he is, watching us watching him while we all watch the dark skies on the screen. Like Salvador Dalí or Andy Kaufman, Holger Czukay was an avant~garde provocateur blessed with a look to match his work. Wiry, with a wave of mad~scientist hair and a proclivity for sartorial flair, he seemed the embodiment of his music’s winking, high~low mishmash of groundbreaking electronics, pop kitsch, and nervy confrontation. Now, less than a year after his passing, the German label Grönland has released a mammoth retrospective of his work. Over five LPs, a DVD, a book, and an unusual “vinyl video” 7”, Cinema takes in Czukay’s solo and collaborative work outside of Can, the iconic avant~rock quintet he co~founded in 1968. Starting in the early 1960s and ending in 2014, the set lights a path through his sprawling, winding oeuvre and confirms Czukay’s status as one of… the great weirdo geniuses of the 20th century.
•★• And boy, does it ever sprawl — the man was not afraid to let a groove ride. A student of Karlheinz Stockhausen, he brought tape manipulation and shortwave radio experiments to lanky, unspooling jams, lacing his low~key funk with disorienting humor. Tracks like “Full Circle R.P.S. (No. 7)” and “Hollywood Symphony” exceed the 10~minute mark, interweaving breezy foundations with jarring ornamentation and unexpected sonic pileups to induce an uneasy dreamstate. At first they seem mellow to a fault, but these are insidious works: They disarm you with sloppy, unhurried guitar strums and pitter~patter drums, suddenly spike into prickly aggression, and then recede. It makes for an edgy listen — what else might be lurking beneath this balmy, fuggy exterior?
•★• Czukay works fast and loose with genres, treating them like the radio signals he began processing in Can’s later years. On Cinema, environmental sounds, music, noise, and chatter blur together into an ambient ether, waiting to be tapped into and reprocessed. There are echoes of the Beatles’ phantasmagoric childhood reimaginings circa Magical Mystery Tour, but the Fab Four never really left the pop song behind; Czukay was the opposite. You sense he’s pitched a lonely camp in a wild, untouched expanse of sound, the goofy jazz flourishes and funky bass wiggles like torn and battered snapshots of home, pinned to the inside of his tent.
•★• Beyond the necessary inclusion of Movies in full, there are plenty of gems. “Biomutanten,” alongside Conny Plank as Les Vampyrettes, is a dank, Argento~worthy exercise in horror. Backing up the Japanese vocalist Phew on “Signal,” Czukay and friends conjure up a no~wave workout as cheese~grater sharp as Delta 5’s “Mind Your Own Business.” Over a quarter~century later, this mood is complemented with the gloopy “21st Century,” featuring Ursa Major, which revisits the dubbier expansiveness of the post~Slits diaspora. Dub is a constant presence throughout, whether on kaleidoscopic Jah Wobble/Jaki Liebezeit collabs like “How Much Are They?” and “Twilight World,” the satirical audio collage of “Der Osten Ist Rot,” or the spatial weirdness of 2008’s “Breath Taking.”
•★• “Breath Taking” uses a rare sample of Stockhausen, and in its languid drones and drifting structure you can hear echoes of Czukay’s astonishing 1968 tape work “Boat Woman Song.” Recorded in a single night in Stockhausen’s studio, after the composer had left — “We had a second key and went in and switched everything on,” recalled Czukay; “I prepared myself at night at home, so in four hours the whole thing was done” — that piece’s haunting cruise across the airwaves blends ominous orchestra music, “unknown traditional singers from Vietnam,” and expansive drones with a hypnotic magnetism. It’s one of the strongest pieces in Czukay’s catalogue, darkened by the long shadow of World War II. You can hear Czukay wrestling with anger and despair, invoking a fevered vision of global agony. The endless downwards march of European imperialism is epitomized by a simple, elegiac descending string figure that repeats throughout, itself slowly pitching down and receding into the shadows. Spectral cries pierce the gloom; reverberant echoes suggest abandoned industrial spaces. After an extended peak in the middle, the mix collapses in on itself with tragic inevitability. The music is so enveloping it’s easy to miss its astonishing prescience, but in this early outing Czukay is making connections that musicians are still unpacking today. If this isn’t a template for modern electronic music — the remix, the DJ set, sampling, and ambient music all find precursors here, as does club music’s fascination with lost futures, re~processed voices, the layering of found sounds, loop~based minimalism, and dystopian collapse — then what is?
By MARK CORROTO, March 15, 2018. Score: ****