Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Kraut Fishing in America, Post-Can Edition: Holger Czukay- Movies (1980), On the Way to the Peak of Normal (1982)
Holger Czukay's first solo album. In a way, it's almost a Can reunion (every single German member of Can is present here, as well as late-period sort-of member Rebop Kwaaku Bah), or perhaps a vision of Can as an instrument wielded more exclusively by Czukay, acting as composer, chief instrumentalist, producer, and conductor. Some of the songs basically are Can songs, retooled in the Czukay style we might call inimitable-- if Brian Eno, David Byrne, David Bowie and all the other boys hadn't run so far with the formula. "Oh Lord, give us more money," in particular, is a dynamite track that recycles the structure, tone, and hot licks of Landed's "Hunters and Collectors," yet never feels like a retread so much as a naturally occurring mutation.
Rife with ethno/film soundbite samples, shortwave warbles, woozy french horn, juicy guitar (from both Czukay and Karoli), mustache-twirling cartoon vocals, and the mind-boggling power of Liebezeit's drums, this is a crazy, fun and exhilarating record. Equal parts wacky and cerebral, primitive and sophisticated, this is essential listening for the Can fan who needs to see the light at the other end of Saw Delight. This is both a fantastic continuation of the energy of Can, and something new and separate altogether as well.
Mr. Czukay's follow-up, a collaboration with Liebezeit and Wobble that precedes the previously featured Full Circle by a couple years, is almost as excellent as Movies and even more "cool". The infusion of Wobble may account for the more laid-back, druggy atmosphere (as opposed to Movies' hyper-creativity). The first song in particular, the 13-minute "Ode to Perfume," is the perfect soundtrack to the act of being a stoned genius, a sustained exercise in deceptively gnarled mood music. The sampling-- as you might expect from the man who damn near invented it-- is superb. Executed with devastating restraint, it's a god damn masterclass in the subtle potential of the craft. Another standout is "Witches' Multiplication Table," its foreboding black magic German dubbiness and UFO synths achieving at the highest levels of intelligent trippiness. This is a real favorite of mine, all.
PEAK OF NORMAL 320