Sunday, September 10, 2017

Detourn to Forever

It's Sunday and time for a vital tribute to a true pioneer and avatar of the music of our age.
Today's honoree passed this week at 79 from an undisclosed illness, but not before 50 years in sound construction and not before founding one of the epoch's most important and beloved bands.
Perhaps his most epic contribution to the sonic continuum is the fact that he was the very first person to begin to use records and recorded music and material to make new stuff. Back in 1968 when he started doing it, it didn't have a name.
Nowadays, we just call it sampling, and it's arguably the last major innovation we've seen in the arena. Zillions of people have used a stack of LPs and a couple of turntables to create new vistas in sound since... but this guy started it.
And then there's that band. Certainly one of the most influential ensembles ever to plug in an amplifier, there's just no quantifying what they mean to so many. Their music will still be fresh and challenging a thousand years and more from now. If you referred to them as the greatest German rock group of all time, you'd get precious little argument.
They may have been the first band of their kind to have their own studio... built for them by none other than that guy again. The idea that their first five or six records -- all indispensable to the power of essential -- were cobbled together from (mostly live-in-the-studio) two-track tape just drops my jaw right to the floor. That's right, the fuckers didn't even have multitrack facilities until around 1975!!!!
If you don't know by now, they were called The Can -- he named them after The Who, sort of -- and the man was named Holger Czukay. The experiments he and they undertook have done as much as anyone to subtly shape the last half century of recorded sound on this planet.
When he changed frequencies this past Tuesday, there were plentiful and instant tributes published in several musicianly places, detailing who he was and suggesting what tracks of his and of Can's are most representative of his output and his ideas.
Because I am 1) insane and 2) have little better to do, I took the list of songs from two of these online music mags and set about bringing their hypotheses into the real world, so to speak. I constructed a 3CD compendium of Czukay's best, utilizing all the tracks proffered by Pitchfork and most of those selected by The Stranger, plus a few of my own choices to round things out.
This little four-hour extravaganza -- as fine an introduction to the work of this compelling and extraordinary artist as may yet exist -- is titled Pitchfork Stranger Cutaway and can be found right here, as a reward for those brave enough to actually read my screed all the way through.
Additionally we have a Can concert from Halloween 1975, remastered meticulously by audiomaestro Tom Phillips from what sounds to me like a stage-miked capture made by the band themselves. This was recorded in Stuttgart and provides a marvelous snapshot of what this most seminal combo was like on the boards and in full flight in their mid-1970s heyday.
Gustav Siegle Haus
Stuttgart, Germany
(finkployd49-TomP V2 remaster)

01 Improvisation
02 Bel Air
03 Dizzy Dizzy
04 Pinch
05 Quantum Physics (on 'speed')
06 Improvisation

Total time: 1:19:30

Irmin Schmidt - keyboards
Michael Karoli - guitar & vocals
Holger Czukay - bass & electronics
Jaki Liebezeit - drums

unknown recording, possibly stage microphones or mixing desk, remastered by Tom Phillips from a finkployd49 tape
I'd advise grabbing both the mixtape and the concert, but I posted them separately to the cloud so's you'd have options. Either way, both should be taken as necessary tribute to the late Holger Czukay -- sampling forefather and a cultural alchemist for the ages -- as living proof of his indescribably central influence on the music of our lifetimes.--J.
3.24.1938 - 9.5.2017

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