March 24, 1938 – September 5, 2017
Holger Czukay, the bassist and a co-founder of the pioneering German band Can, has died at the age of 79. He was found by a neighbour at his apartment, converted from Can’s old studio just outside Cologne. The cause of death had yet to be revealed as this issue went to press.
“I never intended to become a rock or pop musician,” Czukay said back in
1994. “What I wanted to become was a creative person.”
Having studied under acclaimed but controversial composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in the 1960s, and subsequently working briefly as a music teacher, Czukay performed on nine of Can’s albums as well as engineering them. Alongside Tangerine Dream, Neu! and Faust, Can were front-runners of the following decade’s krautrock scene, mixing ambient and electronic music with rock and avant garde.
After leaving Can in 1977 for a solo career, he worked as a producer and/or collaborator with Brian Eno, Japan singer David Sylvian, U2 guitarist The Edge, Public Image Limited’s Jah Wobble, the Eurythmics and the German band Trio. He also appeared on the 1992 album The Mermaid, a project that featured Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox.
Czukay became a pioneer of sampling before the term was even invented, using random snippets of sound recorded from short-wave radios and pasting them into recordings.
Back in April, under the name The Can Project, a variation of the group’s line-up that included Can’s ever-present keyboard player Irmin Schmidt and American vocalist and early Can member Malcolm Mooney reconvened without Czukay to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore. DL