Holger Czukay: Der Osten Ist Rot/Rome Remains Rome

Restless Can man retools 1980s gems.

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Any ‘explanation’ of his music by Holger Czukay tends to confuse rather than enlighten, and perhaps that’s the way it should be.

On the press release for this selection of tracks from two mid-80s albums (with new remakes and remixes), he tells us of all the ships he’s sailed on, from evacuating Danzig in World War II to narrowly avoiding travelling on the General Belgrano as the Brits sank it during the Falklands conflict. He also eulogises the 80s, contradicting received wisdom by describing them as an exciting time of freedom and creativity. What the Can co-founder doesn’t do is offer reductive descriptions; his music flows beyond language. Which, of course, gives the reviewer a tough job, failing and flailing to convey the ebbs and flows of Czukay’s river of sonic art. Here he cherry-picks moments from his fourth and fifth solo works and completely refashions such pulsating, unpredictable marvels as Music In The Air, Sudetenland and Der Rosten Ist Rot. Conny Plank and Jah Wobble feature. Just go along with these – for want of a less hackneyed phrase – sonic collages, and their peripatetic wit will open your mind until your brains fall out. CR

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.