CAN's first recording ever was made in June 1968 during our
first concert for a modern art exhibition at Schloss Noervenich
near Cologne. It is called PREHISTORIC FUTURE and was released
1984 on the Tago Mago label in Paris as a limited number of
mono-cassettes (2000 pressings). For the first time we recorded
samples of the students' rebellion of 1968 in Paris and these
became an important part of the concert. From there on we were
lucky in obtaining the permission for building up our own studio
in Schloss Noervenich. This studio consisted of 2 stereo tape-deck
machines and about 4 microphones. A musician's amplifier was
used as our 'recording mixer'. We immediately started recording
film music for a young German film director and through this
experience we decided to become a rhythmically orientated 'heavy
weight' group in combination with ethnological influences- sometimes
at least. And as we were trying to imitate 'primitive sounds'
CAN ended up with its Ethnological Forgery Serie and did not
even stop at imitating a Japanese No spectacle. Of course we
regarded these attempts more from the humorous than from a perfect
The first regular CAN album was MONSTER MOVIE and the first
piece we recorded was 'Father Cannot Yell.' We thought more
of a collapsing building in slow motion pictures than becoming
heroes on our instruments. Everything was spontaneously recorded
by 'instant composition'. 'Yoo Doo Right' was an unusual long
piece of music at that time with a rhythm which did not belong
to the world of Rock 'n Roll. It seemed more to be played by
an electric tribe band with adequate instruments of that time.
The album SOUNDTRACKS became more an in-between project,because
it took CAN much more time in finishing the double album TAGO
MAGO than we thought. Of course we could not live by our income
from live gigs or record sales and so CAN was lucky in doing
several film musics. The title tracks of the pictures were released
as soundtracks on the SOUNDTRACK album. 'Don't Turn the Light
on, Leave Me Alone' was Damo's first recording with CAN ever.
This piece expresses Damo's mood at that time I think, after
I found him singing or 'praying' loud in the streets of Munich.
Jaki and me were sitting outside in a cafe when Damo came near.
I said to Jaki: 'This will be our new singer.' Jaki: 'how can
you say that, you don't even know him.' I got up from my seat,
went to Damo and asked him if he is free for the evening. We
were an experimental rock group and we were going to play a
concert the night- sold out. Damo said he had nothing special
to do, so why shouldn't he sing. The venue was packed that evening
and Damo started murmuring like a meditating monk. All of a
sudden he turned into a fighting samurai, the audience was shocked
and almost everybody left the hall. About 30 Americans were
left and got totally excited about what they heard. Among them
was Hollywood actor David Niven who probably thought he was
attending to some sort of nightmare happening.
TAGO MAGO was CAN's official second album and was an attempt
in achieving a mystery musical world from light to darkness
and return. The album consisted not only out of regularly recorded
music, but for the first time we combined 'in-between-recordings',
that means the musicians were secretly recorded in the pauses
when a new microphone and recording set up was being established.
In that time the rest of the group just played in order to make
the time pass by instead of waiting till the technical problems
were solved. And there was always one microphone and one recorder
on standby position for such cases. Altogether certainly a psychedelic
experience, and the studio itself even turned into something
new e.g. by changing dramatically the whole illumination.
At the end of 1971 CAN moved into another village with their
studio equipment where we rented an old cinema which wasn't
any longer used as such.The walls were covered by new walls
out of 1500 military matresses and the studio looked like an
elephant from inside. We could achieve an excellent dry and
ambient sound in there and the interior submitted a cozy landscape
feeling with all possibilities of spontaneous recordings. EGE
BAMYASI was the first album made in this new environment and
reflects the group being in a lighter mood than it was in Schloss
Nvrvenich. 'Vitamin C' became the title track of the Hollywood
movie 'Dead Pigeon' by Samuel Fuller and 'Spoon' was another
title track of a TV-gangster series. Everytime about 30 million
people switched their TV on, they heard this and so it didn't
surprise when 'Spoon' became a top ten hit in Germany. And 'Spoon'
was one of the first pieces banded on tape in combination of
an electric drum machine and a drummer who was himself an u
n h u m a n machine.
As 'Spoon' was so successful CAN could afford having some
summer holidays for the first time in its short history. And
when everyone returned back to the Inner Space Studio, the music
had this summer feeling too. A lot of editings and cuttings
were involved during the production and for the first time I
could concentrate myself only on bass playing and didn't function
as CAN's recording engeneer at the same time. This became the
job for our roadies now. Especially 'Bel Air' showed CAN in
a state of being an electric symphony group performing a peaceful
though sometimes dramatic landscape painting.
And it was the calm weather before the storm too. Damo got
married to a German girl from the Jehovas' Witness religion
and left CAN. For the rest of the group it was the feeling of
a powerful fist strike into one's stomach. We tried out many
other singers,but nobody suited to us anymore. So guitarist
Michael Karoli and space organist Irmin Schmidt and sometimes
me filled the gap. SOON OVER BABALUMA was the last album which
was recorded straight onto stereo without a multi-tracking machine.
An era came to an end. But it was also the birth of something
new. 'Quantum Physics' became one of the first ambient music
pieces with a sort of techno character thanks to Jaki's fabulous
machine drumming and Irmin's prehistoric synthesizer 'alpha
In all these years from 1968 to 1974 a lot of unofficial
in between recordings came to existence. This was somehow the
other face of CAN. These recordings were first released as a
LIMITED EDITION album and later got expanded to UNLIMITED EDITION.
This double album witnesses the extraordinary mood of the Inner
Space Studio and only in such a place these recordings had been
possible. We have tested out other professional studios but
none could equal our private home studio which put the musicians
in such a special state of creativity.
In 1975, CAN obtained their first 16 track recorder and that
gave a lot of change to the groups musical output. LANDED became
the first CAN album which got a real mix- a professional mix
so to speak. The ambient aspect had its successor in 'Unfinished'
and for the first time a guest musician appeared on an CAN album:
Olaf Kubler from Amon Duul played saxophone on 'Red Hot Indians'.
FLOW MOTION showed how CAN got influenced by reggae music,
though no song of this album is actually reggae music. But I
remember attending for the first time Bob Marley in concert
and I was really impressed by the drums and bass and the reggae-designed
guitar work. The very sinister 'Smoke' reminded me of CAN getting
back into the sixties again and 'I Want More' took CAN into
the U.K. charts, giving an impression of CAN's danceable power.
One of my favourite pieces became 'Flow Motion' itself and this
time it didn't matter that nobody was singing. It was the nucleus
of the group performing this music as it had been from the very
beginning since its existence.
The times were changing. During a TV-recording in England
we met the musicians of TRAFFIC and two of them soon visited
us at Inner Space. Rebop and Rosko Gee liked the way we were
approaching music and so they got involved as the new temporary
CAN members leading especially the rhythms into a fluent bombardment.
It was the time when I invented a new instrumental scenario
for myself which switched CAN to different medias like radio
tuning, prepared samples of other ethno worlds, electronic treatments
and a different instrumental line up as such. 'Animal Waves'
of SAW DELIGHT became a journey into other countries and their
musical cultures. All of this was synchronized by an activated
morse key. Without our new members from TRAFFIC, this intensive
musical flow would have never been established.
And as everything comes once to an end, the CAN album showed
a last time the glance of a vanishing star. 'All Gates Open'
is synonymous for it. And we could take that title straight.
All gates really came open for each member of the band going
their own musical way which everyone had dreamed of - until
1987, when our first singer Malcolm Mooney wrote us a letter
from the United States asking if we couldn't come together again.
Since his departure from the group he got named as an artist
without having made an attempt as a singer again. He wanted
to know how it feels again standing with the band behind a microphone,
which had made him so sick when he had left. We all came together
in the beautiful landscape of South France and a new spirit
came up with the first recordings. In the meantime the group
became slowly matured still remaining the original CAN of the
old days with an uptodate musical output. RITE TIME was born
and especially 'In the Distance lies the Future' became one
of my favourite CAN pieces of all time.
With such an amount of musical material recorded in around
10 years it became obvious that new combinations and shorted
versions were finding its way into CANIBALISM I to III. The
listener who gets in contact with CAN's music for the first
time will get a concentrated impression on certain essential
aspects. 'Animal Waves' on CANIBALISM II was never cutted so
effectively to the point as it is on this album. And this is
only one example.
One thing shouldn't been forgotten: when our first album
entitled PREPARED TO MEET THY PNOOM was finished no record company
wanted to get hold of that kind of music. So we decided to go
on recording and try it again. This was leading to MONSTER MOVIE
and we made a private pressing out of it, before a record company
wanted to sign us. These very first recordings were later released
as DELAY 1968. When I did the mastering in the beginning of
the eighties the enigmatic German producer Conny Planck listened
to it and got excited saying: 'As long as CAN playes 'Soul'
they are unbeatable.' 'Little Star of Bethlehem' is one of the
first recordings with inserted overdub parts of the whole group.
1997 becomes the year where other musicians show the timeless
aspect of CAN's music in the new remix album SACRILEGE. And
this is the Sound of CAN in the nineties.
copyright by holger czukay, all rights reserved