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Friday, December 17, 2010

Technical Space Composer’s Crew – Canaxis 5 (1969, Music Factory)



















This
recording is a seminal one in my little historic endeavor given that it is
the first purely experimental sound album (no instruments, I am pretty
sure) that I’ve included. Furthermore, it is probably the most fitting of
the description I gave this project and would definitely be a top 10 if my
list and ambitions were that diminutive. It is easily one of the most
innovative recordings ever, has an untold influence on avant-garde music
and is off of most people’s radar.



Now, a lot of people are aware of the band CAN, and not just those types of
people who like out there sound, they’re just universally accepted as
bad-ass. Holger Czukay is known by most people who have an interest in CAN
as one of the founding fathers, a fantastic bassist and possibly even more
impressive sound engineer. Czukay was very prolific in his own solo work
with sound collage as well, but Canaxis 5 predates them all. As a student
of the OG of electronic music himself, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Czukay began
his foray into the world of music by experimenting with different sounds
not necessarily his own. In 1969 he put out this album in collaboration
with painter Rolf Dammers as a sort of "acoustic sound painting".



You really need two hands to count all the innovations that Czukay could
honestly or at least without much argument be credited with: tape loops,
ambient music, incorporation of "world" music, mixing western and eastern
music, sampling, and the list goes on. How he did all this was through a
mix of western technology and eastern spirituality, arguably before any of
the other krautrock bands, avant composers or even Brian Eno did. White
noise is sampled, creating ambient atmospherics while looping electronics
create layers of sound with field recordings from Vietnam, China, etc. to
create a hypnotic blend of east and west, technological and human. Sound
like anything you’ve heard before? Pretty much a majority of experimental
music working away from the dynamic of the traditional band set up, right?
Not to say that this is something you will put on for your friends and blow
them away with it. Admittedly, the appeal of this recording is largely
academic, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Great for spacing out or
focusing in on your homework, Czukay’s use of electronics and tape loops
were at the beginning stages of what would become a more refined ability
within CAN and later solo projects, but this earliest document still flows
together and meshes in perfect harmony. It won’t do much to separate
itself from similar music when listening in a vacuum, but hey, he did it
about 40 years before "tropical" was considered a legitimate way to
describe bland neo-psyche that wouldn’t exist without him.

-Hermione Marquis, Cubic Zirconia Farmer

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