Holger Czukay's first solo album was this experimental foray which fuses ambient, world music and an early form of sampling, a good 10 years before anybody else in the rock music field even started to get to grips with any of those ideas. Working with producer/engineer Rolf Dammers, this album was assembled from thousands of snippets recorded from short wave radio, a long standing obsession of Czukay's which he also incorporated into some of Can's later albums. For many years it was a real rarity, as only 1000 copies were printed and it was only released in Germany. The CD reissue includes a one-off recording of a brief jazz composition from German radio, which was Czukay's first broadcast work.
The first piece, Boat-Woman-Song, opens with a flurry of tape loops which settle into an irregular but compelling rhythm. The piece unfolds gradually, with a pair of Vietnamese singers (recorded from a short wave broadcast) providing the main melodic development. One of Czukay's charcteristic minimal bass lines is added to the sound collage part way through, and gives the piece a real impetus until it fades away (along with the singers) a few minutes before the end. The piece gradually fades away, having mutated and developed in an unexpected but very subtle manner - as with a lot of the best minimal music, you're left wondering exactly how we got to 'here' from 'there'. The second piece, Canaxis, is altogether more abstract but equally fascinating. There is no focal point to grab the attention until about half way through, when what sounds like a Japanese koto plays a simple but haunting melody over the constantly evolving sound collage. The closing piece, Mellow Out, is a short composition for guitar, bass and sax which, despite being in a very different style to the rest of the album, fits the general mood nicely.
Canaxis has scarcely dated since it was released 36 years ago, and is an impressive album from one of the most intelligent and innovative musicians rock music has produced. Recommended.
(By Review by Syzygy)Rating 4 stars.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars First off i'd suggest you read Syzygy's review because I learned more from reading that than I did reading the detailed liner notes that came with this cd. Holger Czukay is more well known as being part of the legendary German band CAN but even before that band came together Holger was into this experimental music and was way ahead of his time in this field. He had this fascination with recording snippets from the short wave radio and experimenting with sounds in general. He believes that music has to do with the mind and is therefore an artificial language."He dares to seek new forms of expression with an almost naive eagerness, combining pioneering media with long since outdated technologies". This was recorded in 1968 in a studio and at his home, and was originally privately released in 1969.
This first track "Boat Women Song" will make it or break it for many. It's those female Vietnamese vocal melodies that are fairly mournful, and they are anything but pretty. Of course given the title of this track they fit perfectly.The song opens with female and male vocal melodies that fade quickly but the male continues. She's back though and another female singer helps out.The male vocals continue but they are faint. What's interesting is that the male vocal melodies sound really good in contrast to the female vocal expressions that don't.The females stop but then they're back singing together in this high pitched annoying style. Hey they want off the boat. They start to fade out then the male vocal melodies return after 11 minutes. Cool. It turns spacey and atmospheric late. A very innovative track. "Canaxis" is spacey with twitters and tweaks then we get some male vocal melodies before 3 1/2 minutes. He stops before 7 minutes as it turns darker.The male vocal melodies are back before 10 minutes as it continues to be dark and spacey. An ethnic acoustic instrument of some sort comes in before 11 1/2 minutes replacing the vocal melodies.They stop as it continues spacey.The sound slowly fades as we get closer to the end of the track.
This is listed under Krautrock but this is essential for you fans of Electronic-Prog. A must for your collection in fact considering the year it was recorded.
Studio Album, released in 1969
Tracks 1 and 2 recorded at Inner Space, Cologne 1968; originally released 1969.
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Ho-Mai-Nhi (The Boat Woman Song) (17:27)
2. Shook Eyes Ammunition (Canaxis)(20:15)
3. Epilogue (Mellow Out) (2:12)
Line-up / Musicians
- Holger Czukay / bass, tapes, composer & producer
- Rolf Dammers / composer & producer
- 2 unknown Traditional Singers from Vietnam (Track1)
Originally privately released in 1969 by Technical Space Composer's Crew and titled "Canaxis 5". Later reissued as "Canaxis" by Holger Czukay & Rolf Dammers.
LP Music Factory - SRS 002 (1969, Germany)
LP Spoon Records - SPOON 015 (1982, Germany) Retitled "Canaxis" and new cover art
CD Spoon Records - SPOON CD 15 (1995, US)