Weekend links 563

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Cover art by Jeffrey Schrier for the 1975 reissue of Zero Time by Tonto’s Expanding Head Band.

• RIP Malcolm Cecil, electronic musician, and producer of Stevie Wonder, among many others. The term pioneer is over-used when discussing electronic artists, but it’s an accurate one when applied to Cecil and his partner in Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Robert Margouleff. The first Tonto album, Zero Time (1971), was a collection of fully-realised all-electronic compositions recorded in the days when “electronic music” in the rock sphere usually meant rock-band-plus-synth-burbles. As I said in a post about Tonto’s debut album a few years ago, “Jetsex sounds like an outtake from Kraftwerk’s Autobahn (albeit three years early) while Timewhys wouldn’t have been out of place on The Human League’s Travelogue album almost a decade later”. Cecil may be seen in this short film showing off the bespoke synth gear that comprised The Original New Timbral Orchestra (aka TONTO), while he talks at length about his career in issue 4 of Synapse magazine here. Cecil and Margouleff parted company in the mid-70s shortly after releasing a second album, It’s About Time (1974), a collection of jazzy instrumentals that’s overdue a proper reissue.

• “Every film production company they showed it to said it was ‘too weird’ to ever be made. ” Next month Strange Attractor publishes The Otherwise, a script by Mark E. Smith and Graham Duff for an unmade horror film.

• More horror: Predator’s Ball by Uni; music video as horror scenario in which you can play spot-the-reference: Alice in Wonderland, Rocky Horror, Leigh Bowery (?), Pasolini’s Salò (?)…

• At Bibliothèque Gay: Narkiss by Jean Lorrain, another homoerotic classic newly translated into Spanish, and with new illustrations.

• The week in Gary Panter: Nicole Rudick on Gary Panter’s Punk Everyman, and the man himself writing about his life and art.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine investigates the connections between Charles Williams and Sax Rohmer.

• At Dangerous Minds: New Age Steppers, “the only ever post-punk supergroup”.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 689, a feast of funk compiled by Steve Arrington.

• At Public Domain Review: Agostino Ramelli’s Theatre of Machines (1588).

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Pier Paolo Pasolini Day.

Valentina Magaletti’s favourite music.

Louvre site des collections

Narcissus Queen (1958) by Martin Denny | Narciso (1974) by Pierrot Lunaire | Narkissos (2006) by Sadistic Mikaela Band

Jaki Liebezeit times ten

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Jaki Liebezeit.

One thing to note about the late Jaki Liebezeit is that everyone liked Can in the 1970s, which means that everyone liked Jaki Liebezeit’s drumming. When the music wars were raging in 1976, Can were one of the few groups from the hippy side of the barricade given a pass by the punks. Prog-heads liked Can because of the rock grooves and complex improvisations; punks enjoyed the muscular insistence of songs like Father Cannot Yell and Halleluwah. David Bowie liked Can; Brian Eno liked Can enough to let Jaki Liebezeit guest on Before And After Science (Eno also made this tribute video for the Can DVD); John Lydon when he was still Johnny Rotten played Halleluwah on his Capital Radio show in 1977 together with other favourite records; a year later, Pete Shelley wrote a sleeve note for a Can compilation (and the first Can album I bought), Cannibalism; Mark E. Smith liked Can (of course); Siouxsie called Jaki Liebezeit “the best drummer in the world,” while Jah Wobble would go on to work with Liebezeit on numerous recordings under his own name and as a guest on other albums. Some of the Wobble recordings appear below. If there’s a minimum of Can music in the following list that’s mainly because Mute/Spoon keep the back catalogue away from British users of YouTube. I don’t mind that; the absence of the prime stuff means I can draw attention to some examples of Jaki Liebezeit’s post-Can work which might otherwise be overlooked.

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Mother Sky/Deadlock (1970) by Can.

Two numbers from the fantastic live set the group played on German TV for an audience of ecstatic/bored/stoned hippies.

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Jaki Liebezeit drum solo (1970).

In the Can Book Liebezeit says he never played drum solos but he was forgetting about this example from the group’s early days.

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Flammende Herzen (1977) by Michael Rother.

Michael Rother’s first solo album was also his best after leaving Neu! The album is essentially a duet between Rother and Liebezeit, with Rother playing all instruments apart from the drums.

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Oh Lord Give Us More Money (1979) by Holger Czukay.

In which Holger Czukay takes the Can song Hunters And Collectors, removes the vocals then extends and remixes the whole thing into a 13-minute collage blending the music with BBC sound effects and vocal samples taken from radio and TV. Samplers didn’t exist in 1979, this was all done with tape, and it’s incredible. I forget whether it was Jaki Liebezeit or Michael Karoli who said they didn’t recognise their playing afterwards (probably the latter) but Leibezeit’s drums sustain the entire piece. He also plays on the rest of the album. Movies is Czukay’s masterpiece, and more true to the questing, inventive spirit of Can than the albums the group made after Landed. Another track, Persian Love, samples Middle Eastern vocalists two years before My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. Eno was paying attention.

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