Holger Czukay | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Holger Czukay 

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Given the circumstances under which Holger Czukay left Can in 1977--the band's percussionist, Reebop Kwaku Baah, pulled the plug on him in the middle of a concert for the third time--you could hardly blame the guy if he never played music again, much less with Can. Of course, he has: Czukay returned to the fold to make Can's 1989 reunion album, Rite Time, playing French horn and Dictaphone instead of bass guitar, and he's used vintage Can tracks and contributions from his erstwhile bandmates on his marvelously eccentric solo records, which spotlight his whimsical singing and masterful cut-and-splice technique. Czukay has been sampling since before the process had a name: on his 1969 LP Canaxis he manipulated field recordings of Vietnamese folksingers, and on post-Can records like Movies and Rome Remains Rome he used Dictaphones and shortwave radios to pluck voices from the air and paste them into sleek, danceable techno-pop tunes. The 2001 release Linear City (on Dignose, Czukay's online-only label) was composed in part by fans, who downloaded, reworked, and returned sound files he'd posted on his Web site. On Czukay's most recent album, The New Millennium (Funfundvierzig), he makes some familiar moves--incorporating sound effects and ethnic samples, appropriated Can riffs, his own liquid lead guitar, and vocals by his wife, U-She--and displays a newfound fondness for dense programmed polyrhythms. At age 66, Czukay has finally gotten around to touring the States under his own name: he'll play prerecorded tracks and accompany them on guitar, keyboards, and French horn. U-She is recovering from a serious illness and has stayed home. Defender opens. Saturday, May 15, 10 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North; 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499.

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