Essential New Music: Holger Czukay’s “Cinema”

Released to coincide with what would’ve been his 80th birthday, Cinema is a gorgeous, shady and gawky overview of what a solo Holger Czukay scribbled outside the shaky lines of Can’s avant-metronomic aesthetic and his moody atmospheric collaborations with David Sylvian. Along with that, there’s a lot of wonky cut-and-paste Czukay—a formidable, rubbery bassist who, on his own recordings, could and would play anything such as Dictaphone and French horn—to go around. From the primal electro of his Les Vampyrettes project of 1980 with Grönland father Conny Plank and its icy sonic counterparts done in collaboration with Brian Eno or the gentleman of Cluster, we hear Czukay as one of Euro electronic music’s avatars.

A series of moments with Can’s Jaki Liebezeit and Jah Wobble leads us to believe that Germany’s innovative Czukay could’ve co-owned Jamaica’s Black Ark studio with dub-meister Lee Perry. Mostly, though, the aptly titled Cinema (much of his craft was imagining a heavily imagistic film unspooling in his head with him improvising every soundtrack chorus) finds Czukay in subtle freeform space-jazz jam mode without ever being tasteless or proggy.

—A.D. Amorosi

Normal History Vol. 474: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 34-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

I wrote the words for “Waiting For Rudy” in the early 90s after finding out that an apartment building we frequently stayed at when we played in San Francisco was slated to be torn down once Rudy, an elderly tenant, died. He had some sort of deal with the owners that disallowed them from evicting him.

“Waiting For Rudy” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):