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Can

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Cologne, Germany (1968 – 1979)

Can was an group founded in Cologne, Germany in 1968. Describing themselves as an “anarchist community”, they constructed their music largely through improvisation and editing, in a way similar to several composers of the time. They had only occasional commercial success, but exerted a huge influence on subsequent and music. They are generally held to be one of the finest of the original bands, and are among the most important artists in recent music history.
A lot of their initial popularity came from positive press in the UK (when many other Krautrock bands were shunned by UK media such as NME) and airplay on John Peel’s BBC radio programmes, which led to extensive touring in the UK. They also gained exposure in Germany by doing soundtrack work for German filmmakers.

Keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and bassist/producer Holger Czukay had studied electronic music together under Karlheinz Stockhausen circa 1966. Schmidt was inspired to start the group following a trip to New York where he was “corrupted’ by Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground. As well as Schmidt and Czukay, the initial lineup included guitarist Michael Karoli, a former pupil of Czukay; and drummer Jaki Liebezeit.

Their first vocalist was an American sculptor, Malcolm Mooney, who joined them living in an old castle with their own music studio, Inner Space. Mooney added a sort of “outsider artist” approach to his improvised vocals, but the chaotic lifestyle was damaging to his mental health and he eventually fled back to the USA on advice of a psychiatrist. He later contributed to the ‘reunion’ album Rite Time in the mid ’80s.

Mooney was replaced by Kenji “Damo” Suzuki, found busking outside a café in Munich.

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