Friday, 18 March 2016

Holger Czukay & Rolf Dammers - Canaxis (1969)

I remember buying this album, nearly twenty years ago, along with Can's Monster Movie and Delay 1968, and considering the recording chronology in mild bemusement.  Canaxis sounded so much more sophisticated and complex than the garagey pulse of the other two.  What I didn't know then was where Holger Czukay was coming from, studying under Stockhausen before the formation of Can, and already had a keen aptitude for tape music and what would become known as sampling, which he'd continue to develop in later solo work.

Side One of Canaxis, 'Boat Woman Song' (originally titled 'Ho Mai Nhi' on the initial LP 'Canaxis 5'), weaves together loops of a motet by Adam de la Halle with recordings of Vietnamese singers to great effect, with bits of additional instrumentation creeping in as the piece develops.  Listening to this piece with my 2016 ears, it's every bit as accomplished as contemporary work by more formal composers, whilst retaining a raw, lo-fi charm that makes it even more engaging.  Side Two is taken up by the title track, which sounds more recognisable as a solid piece of electroacoustic composition that takes the influence of Stockhausen and others to a place on Czukay could take it.

Canaxis

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