Founder member of Can who took a prominent role in producing and engineering the German rock band’s albums
When Holger Czukay, who has died aged 79, became one of the founding members of the Cologne-based band Can in 1968, his role was that of bass player. “The bass player’s like a king in chess,” he reflected later. “He doesn’t move much, but when he does he changes everything.”
However, Can described themselves as an “anarchist community”, and the group’s experimental spirit allowed Czukay plenty of room to explore various aspects of electronic music and recording. Right from their first album, Monster Movie (1969), they broke new ground with their fondness for improvised playing shaped by editing, layering and electronic effects, and Czukay took a prominent role in producing and engineering the band’s albums. Can never achieved huge commercial success, though they did achieve a Top 10 hit in Germany with Spoon, the theme from a TV thriller series, in 1972. Nonetheless their work – not least their mastery of the minimal, repetitive “Motorik” beat, which became a trademark, of Can, Neu! and other German bands – left a lasting impression on countless artists who came in their wake.