short historical review of the can studio.
the idea to have an own studio goes back to the year 1960
when i was invited by a nation wide radio station in germany
to record three tracks with my amateur jazz group. when i entered
studio 7 where jazz orchestras usually were going in and out
my first thought was: holger, that all must one day belong to
it was in june 1968 when the fresh assembled can members met in irmin schmidt’s flat
for the very first time. irmin knew a young film director who
was fascinated by the idea that we were going to become a band
and let us do the music for his film “agilock and blubbo”.
fortunately irmin found a nice and rich gentleman who let us
a room in his castle 30 km west from cologne. after having tested
the accoustics in that room we started to build up a room in
the room with unregular angled walls. This “studio” was very
small but also very cosy. it consisted of thin wood covered
with blankets and cheap carpets. each of us was preparing his
private corner, the tape recorder was set up outside. we were quite
surprised how good these first recordings sounded and we soon
found out how this little place should be called: inner space.
the name became the program so to speak and before we started
to play like a band the first recordings could be characterized
as being falsed ethnological.
however, soon it became obvious that we had to open up this
tiny inner space room no matter what the sound consequences
would be. the parts and material of the recording cell
were taken to build a roof inside the castle room with enough
space for the drums, the guitarist and myself playing bass.
the technique consisted of 2 revox tape recorders and
a few microphones, we possessed anything which could be described
as a mixer. the mixing was done through the air and recorded
with two microphones. Actually alltogether we had 5 microphones,
3 for the drums and 2 for the singer who was accompanied by
a “chorusline” of an organ and a guitar box. the mixing of the
5 microphones was realized by two hi-fi amps with 5 inputs.
these amps were connected to a bass box “monitoring” the left
channel and a guitar box monitoring the right channel. you probably
can imagine that it was more a guessing than a conventional
one year later can was invited to perform a theater piece
as musicians in zuerich and the technician of the theater, mr.
rico maag liked our uncompromising way to record even in a cellar
nearby the theater (“thief”) that he built for us an 8 channel
mixing desk - i only had to pay for the electronic parts. with this elemantary equipment can’s
first 7 albums and more than 10 film soundtracks were recorded
and premastered. end of 1971 can had to leave the castle and
moved into an old cinema nearby where all further albums beginning
with “ege bamiasi” till “rite time” came into existence.
what had started already in the castle was consequently continued
in the cinema. the technique was set up like a bar where the musicians
were hanging around the desk. this had several advantages: the
“engeneer” could easily leave his place thus making the musicians
think nothing was going to be recorded. some of the best can
recordings were banned this way on tape when the band thought
nothing was going on. but best of all was the communication between musician
and “engeneer” which was extremely direct.
more and more the studio became a living landscape, a natural
feel good playground. some of the members could withdraw themselves
privately still being able to follow what was going on. one
can imagine what it means when the band was working creatively
there every day more than 10 hours, over seven years long.
1978 irmin and michael moved to france and jaki, rene tinner,
former can roadie and also engeneer stayed in the studio for
2 more years. in this time my albums “movies” and “on the way
to the peak of normal” were recorded there. rene was working
at daytime with other groups and at night i came in as a nightwatchman
taking care that the heating system was loaded with coal. we both became owners of the studio and bands from all
over the world were successfully recording there. artists like jah wobble, david sylvian. and one of prince’s
engeneers (mark) was driving through germany looking out for
adequate recording places and didn’t leave the can studio anymore
for a longer period.
the can studio has a size of more than 220 square meters
and height of 6 meters. the walls and the ceiling are fully
covered with 1.500 sea grass matraces. can used to
say the studio is looking like an elephant from inside. jaki’s
girlfriend christine had sewed huge pictures out of textiles
which gave the studio a unique and uncomparable atmosphere.
the technique consists of a custom built 56 channel inline desk,
a 24-track digital otari radar II, a 24-track otari mtr90 analogue
recorder, a huge microphone park including bruel & kjaers
and neumanns, extensive periphery and also old devices like
tube filters from k &h, emt gold hall etc etc.
in the last two decades thousands of studios came into existence
but most of them don’t have what is most essential for musicians:
a historical background where you can breathe a magical atmophere. the can studio combines both with an
uptodate technical and historical equipment. according to the
latest development the studio will be completely moved
near the dutch border in order to become an active historical
outpost in the new rock
and pop museum in gronau
images can studio
copyright by holger czukay, all rights reserved