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Holger Czukay - Moving Pictures CD (album) cover


Holger Czukay


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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Holger Czukay's first album of the 90s is a typically idiosyncratic affair which sees him further exploring the dark ambience of his collaborations with David Sylvain, while also updating some of the soundscaping ideas that had first been heard on the Canaxis album some 25 years earlier. It is also the first time that his muse/partner U-She sang on one of his albums, and she was responsible for the superb artwork - she also created the sleeve for Radio Wave Surfer.

The music on the first half of the album was played almost entirely by Czukay, with occasional contributions from several vocalists. The soundscapes are minimal but intricately detailed, with snippets from Czukay's beloved short wave radio harmonising with synths, bass, bowed double bass and the occasional burst of French Horn, and Jah Wobble adds some of his trademark dub bass to All Night Long. Former AFN announcer Sheldon Ancel reprises his role as narrator/MC to spectacular effect, especially when his gravelly voice is contrasted with one of the female singers. Dark Moon is the stand out among the shorter pieces, though all of them are compelling and darkly sinister.

The second half of the album is taken up with the 20 minute Rhythms Of A Secret Life, featuring his former Can colleagues Jaki Liebezeit and Michael Karoli. Liebezeit's drumming here has probably the lowest beats per minute count in the history of rock music, while Karoli adds the occasional arpeggio - it's all a long way from Mother Sky or Halleluwah, but it's every bit as compelling as Can at their peak. Ancel murmurs darkly about 'strange things in the matrix' several years before the movie of the same name was made, and this piece could work well as a soundtrack to some of the more sombre moments of The Matrix trilogy. A bell tolls occasionally in the distance, while the lumbering ostianti of the drums, guitar and synth slowly move into new permutations and ghostly voices sing, pray and mutter on the edges of perception. Occasionally it fades out briefly, according to a bizarre logic of its own, before picking up its slow but inexorable pace again.

This album is an excellent demonstration of Holger Czukay's musical inventiveness and mastery of the studio as a compositional instrument. The minimal feel and near ambient textures may be a little off putting for newcomers, who would be better advised to start with Movies or On The Way To The Peak Of Normal, but for seasoned Can/Czukay fans this is another gem from the maddest of krautrock's mad professors.

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Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permalink

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