RIP Grant Hart, 1961-2017
RIP Holger Czukay, 1938-2017
Yesterday, Rolling Stone and other sources reported the death of musician Holger Czukay.
Czukay is probably most famous as the throbbing heart of Can, but he also recorded many solo albums and was a frequent collaborator with other artists across many genres.
It’s hard to find another run of albums as perfect as Can’s output in the early 1970s—Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days are flawless in my book.
These albums have brought me good times and good grooves for decades now. I’ll always be especially thankful to Czukay for one particular moment in my life—I was 19, relaxing in a bathtub, blaring Monster Movie on my stereo—a particular bass frequency rumbled a bar of soap and sent it smoothly sliding into the water. The moment was somehow epiphanic for me, illustrating a relationship between time, space, and matter. And music.
Even if you don’t like Steely Dan, this 1999 documentary about the making of their 1977 album Aja is fantastic. (The first segment of the YouTube vid might be blocked in your country; watch via this link if so).
First off, the Aja documentary is fucking hilarious—Walter Becker and Donald Fagen come across as the smartest, most venomous guys in the room—a wicked mixture of witty and cruel—-and watching them discuss each track, and each part of each track is fascinating (especially when they pick apart failed guitar solos). The film also features a marvelous supporting cast, including braggart percussionist Bernard Purdie (of “The Purdie Shuffle” fame), and poor old Michael McDonald, who struggled to nail his background parts on “Peg.” What might be most fascinating though is seeing how Fagen and Becker pieced the instrumental tracks of Aja together, bringing in different session musicians—entirely different bands—from day to day. And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a sample (of a sample):
Maybe you already saw this over the July Fourth weekend but I didn’t, somehow, so…
R.L. Burnside at home in Independence, Mississippi in the summer of 1978.
From Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork Project.