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Holger Czukay - Full Circle CD (album) cover

FULL CIRCLE

Holger Czukay

 

Krautrock

3.85 | 10 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This early jewel in the career of Holger Czukay, recorded on the heels of his groundbreaking 1981 LP "On the Way to the Peak of Normal", should be required listening to fans of the idiosyncratic studio wizard, as always one of the more creative inmates in the Krautrock asylum.

For this session Czukay was joined (once again) by Jaki Liebezeit, his erstwhile partner in the CAN rhythm section, and by maverick bass guitar legend Jah Wobble, forming one of the most distinctive and unusual power trios ever assembled (drums / bass / ...shortwave radio?). The addition of Wobble's muscular bass guitar left Czukay free to indulge his fascination with studio sound collages (the album instrumentation credits him with 'radio painting'), here distilled to a more rock-based format not dissimilar from the energetic "Ode to Perfume", a highlight of his previous LP.

All of his trademark stylistic tics are here: playful dub accents, strong rhythmic drive, stray shortwave signals (Czukay was a pioneer in found music and sampling aesthetics), and of course the familiar comic-relief bleat of his French Horn. Four of the six cuts, all of them excellent, had previously been released on a 12" EP. But it's the two additional (and longer) quasi-instrumentals, added to make a full album, that merit special attention.

The 11-minute title track is a dizzy carousel of organized anarchy, built around a toe-tapping bass riff with layers of guitar, percussion, horns (Liebezeit adds the trumpet fills) and offhand electronics thrown into the mix. Notice how the stereo separation suddenly (and somewhat randomly) opens up about eight minutes in, giving the music a dramatic boost leading into the fade out.

"Mystery" then takes many of the same elements and refashions them into an evocative film-noir scenario, with the music gradually coalescing over an ominous minor-key dub rhythm and the sound of heavy footsteps treading slowly into the foreground. Czukay later recycled the same sound effect in the song "All Night Long", on his 1993 album "Moving Pictures", and here it sounds equally vivid when heard over a good pair of headphones.

These two additional tracks, by the way, are labeled "R.P.S. (Radio Picture Series) No. 7" and "No. 8". Are there other such gems in the archives we can hope to eventually hear?

The four-star rating is conservative: this may in fact be the most cohesive and enjoyable album in Holger Czukay's long, ongoing discography. Before the advent of digital technology Czukay would frequently compare magnetic recording tape to an artist's canvas, on which he could paint music in various hues and textures. From that I can only say he created one of his more distinctive self-portraits here.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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