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Holger Czukay - Canaxis CD (album) cover

CANAXIS

Holger Czukay

Krautrock


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Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Holger Czukay's first solo album was this experimental foray which fuses ambient, world music and an early form of sampling, a good 10 years before anybody else in the rock music field even started to get to grips with any of those ideas. Working with producer/engineer Rolf Dammers, this album was assembled from thousands of snippets recorded from short wave radio, a long standing obsession of Czukay's which he also incorporated into some of Can's later albums. For many years it was a real rarity, as only 1000 copies were printed and it was only released in Germany. The CD reissue includes a one-off recording of a brief jazz composition from German radio, which was Czukay's first broadcast work.

The first piece, Boat-Woman-Song, opens with a flurry of tape loops which settle into an irregular but compelling rhythm. The piece unfolds gradually, with a pair of Vietnamese singers (recorded from a short wave broadcast) providing the main melodic development. One of Czukay's charcteristic minimal bass lines is added to the sound collage part way through, and gives the piece a real impetus until it fades away (along with the singers) a few minutes before the end. The piece gradually fades away, having mutated and developed in an unexpected but very subtle manner - as with a lot of the best minimal music, you're left wondering exactly how we got to 'here' from 'there'. The second piece, Canaxis, is altogether more abstract but equally fascinating. There is no focal point to grab the attention until about half way through, when what sounds like a Japanese koto plays a simple but haunting melody over the constantly evolving sound collage. The closing piece, Mellow Out, is a short composition for guitar, bass and sax which, despite being in a very different style to the rest of the album, fits the general mood nicely.

Canaxis has scarcely dated since it was released 36 years ago, and is an impressive album from one of the most intelligent and innovative musicians rock music has produced. Recommended.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#58742)
Posted Thursday, December 01, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars First off i'd suggest you read Syzygy's review because I learned more from reading that than I did reading the detailed liner notes that came with this cd. Holger Czukay is more well known as being part of the legendary German band CAN but even before that band came together Holger was into this experimental music and was way ahead of his time in this field. He had this fascination with recording snippets from the short wave radio and experimenting with sounds in general. He believes that music has to do with the mind and is therefore an artificial language."He dares to seek new forms of expression with an almost naive eagerness, combining pioneering media with long since outdated technologies". This was recorded in 1968 in a studio and at his home, and was originally privately released in 1969.

This first track "Boat Women Song" will make it or break it for many. It's those female Vietnamese vocal melodies that are fairly mournful, and they are anything but pretty. Of course given the title of this track they fit perfectly.The song opens with female and male vocal melodies that fade quickly but the male continues. She's back though and another female singer helps out.The male vocals continue but they are faint. What's interesting is that the male vocal melodies sound really good in contrast to the female vocal expressions that don't.The females stop but then they're back singing together in this high pitched annoying style. Hey they want off the boat. They start to fade out then the male vocal melodies return after 11 minutes. Cool. It turns spacey and atmospheric late. A very innovative track. "Canaxis" is spacey with twitters and tweaks then we get some male vocal melodies before 3 1/2 minutes. He stops before 7 minutes as it turns darker.The male vocal melodies are back before 10 minutes as it continues to be dark and spacey. An ethnic acoustic instrument of some sort comes in before 11 1/2 minutes replacing the vocal melodies.They stop as it continues spacey.The sound slowly fades as we get closer to the end of the track.

This is listed under Krautrock but this is essential for you fans of Electronic-Prog. A must for your collection in fact considering the year it was recorded.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#449603)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Guldbamsen
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Site and Forum Admin
4 stars Weaver of sound

With sites like bandcamp and reverbnation the musical world is currently overflowing with DIY artists making music out of their bedroom. It's a real jungle out there, and if people used to say things like "There's no way in hell you'll ever be able to embrace all of the good music out there" - then take this statement and multiply it by infinity and 4 apples, and you will have a pretty good idea of the current amalgamation of material being thrown out there in the vastness of the internet.

One could say that Holger Czukay was the original bedroom artist. His debut album Canaxis is entirely made up of tapes, radio segments, loops, stagnant floating electronics, cut and paste methods as well as those unique minimalist bass grooves of his. Just remember that this thing came out in 1969, well before the times of computers and editing programs. He had to make all the different sounds first, before he could get along with his monumentally huge scissors adventure.

Anyway, you wouldn't know any of that just by listening to this album. It feels like it was dreamed up by a wide variety of artists. all attuned into Holger's big vision. Take the strangely alluring Vietnamese female vocals of the first cut Boat-Women Song for instance(How's that for a title eh!). Lifted off some kind of short wave radio broadcast, it still feels like two street vendors from the heart of Saigon dropped by the studio to sing their song of woe.

Then you've got the Japanese and native Australian influences as well - colouring Canaxis in a weird, yet highly seductive ethnic sheen, that takes the listener through paradoxical worlds of colour and made up cultures - most likely only existing in the prodigal mind of Holger. Sure one Rolf Dammers is additionally credited for his editing skills, but there's no getting around who's the real head honcho here.

If you're approaching the album from a CAN fan's point of view, then you'd better prepare for a rude wake up call. This is a far cry from anything featured in their catalogue. Maybe apart from the sombre and plodding tempi of the bass lines, there's almost nothing hearkening back to the maestros of monotonous rock.

While the first track settles into this dreamy soundscape with what seems like effervescent pools of synthesised sound, the moods change for the more treacherous when the title track comes in with it's electrified feathered beaky shimmers. Probably meant as an anthem for storks, it suddenly gets hijacked by a delirious monk who weaves around in unorthodox vocal patterns - sounding eerily close to that of the altered Phrygian scales you encounter in the middle east.

Canaxis is all about bending reality. Contorting sounds and moods in order to conjure up something far away from the traditional musics of the world. It feels like a celebration of a thousand cultures all wrapped up into one metaphysical melting pot of writhing skewed tapestries. Before diving into this adventurous record, we'd all be better off thinking of Holger as an intricate weaver of sound. A great big magician with sonic fabrics. 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Guldbamsen (BETA) | Report this review (#1025243)
Posted Thursday, August 29, 2013 | Review Permalink

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