This one is especially bad because it comes after the death earlier this year of Jaki Liebezit, who was also a founding member of the German Progressive Rock/Avant-Garde/Experimental band Can.
I think you would be hard pressed to explain Can to someone who wasn’t familiar with the Prog-Rock, or in this case, the Kraut-Rock genre that revolutionized the 70s throughout the world. They weren’t a band who had hit singles, or even hit albums, or were even played very much on FM in this country. But the represented a turn in music; looking at it as an experimental forum and a place of free-form music that, on its surface, was so damned weird that most people paid no attention to them. But to that handful of people who were open and willing and listening – they were one of the most powerful and influential bands to come along.
None of the members of Can professed to being that heavily influenced by Rock. Jaki was dyed-in-the-wool Freeform Jazz. Holger was a student of the electronic music composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and was more driven by electronic music and ambient sound than bass lines. But he was a remarkable bass player. Other members of the band came from Classical and Experimental backgrounds, so Can was a proving ground for new ideas – taking traditions and twisting them around; tossing in electronics and noise and pushing envelopes. It was, by the acknowledged fact that they were so non-commercial and so far away from the mainstream as to not even be on the same planet, that they actually created an attraction for many musicians in recent years – and their music, even after some 47 years, is still fresh.
The loss of Holger Czukay is a blow to experimental music – at 79, he would be considered the elder statesman and those who were aware of Can in the early days think of Czukay and Can fondly from a nostalgia point of view. But those who aren’t familiar, or who are just coming to be aware of the band are in the midst of important discoveries.
Can shaped my view of Music and took it to places I didn’t realize had existed. Even with his passing earlier today, Holger Czukay leaves a legacy as fresh and as vital as it was in 1969 when I first stumbled upon my first copy of Monster Movie at Aron’s in Hollywood.
I have a lot to be thankful for, even though this year has been a tough one.
Click on Play and check it out – and go exploring.