Holger Czukay, 79, Influential Rock Experimenter, Is Dead

“Films are made like that: You shoot the scenes, and shoot it several times, and later you put it together by these different takes,” Mr. Czukay told EST magazine in 1994. “This is the way I make my music. And suddenly, I found out as well that the music creates a certain sort of vision; it has a visual character.”

On albums like “Monster Movie” (1969), “Tago Mago” (1971) and “Ege Bamyasi” (1972), the result was an electrified postmodern squall that cast a distant line to avant-garde jazz, West African drumming and contemporary German classical music.

A leading ensemble in Germany’s Krautrock movement, Can also drew upon the cyclical sounds of American minimalism but had no time for its meditative ambitions. And though rampant with provocation, Can lacked the self-conscious guile of much Western experimentalism. Its gestures had follow-through and blind abandon, laying groundwork for such gritty, confrontational bands as Einstürzende Neubauten and Public Image Ltd, and the bristling post-punk of Talking Heads and Sonic Youth.


Holger Czukay, left, with the German experimental rock group Can in an undated photo.

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Can began as a partnership between Mr. Czukay and the keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, both of whom had studied with the avant-garde German composer and electronic music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen. They soon joined up with Mr. Liebezeit, the guitarist Michael Karoli, the vocalist Malcolm Mooney and, briefly, the flutist David C. Johnson. Mr. Liebezeit said the band’s name stood for “communism, anarchism and nihilism.”

Can was one of the first bands to oversee all aspects of its own recording process, a practice guided by Mr. Czukay. Its first studio and rehearsal space was in a castle outside Cologne, but in 1971 the group relocated to the nearby village of Weilerswist, where they converted an abandoned movie house into a sonic lab. They called the studio Inner Space.

“We didn’t build up a control room, so that the studio was more of a temple, like a church,” Mr. Czukay said in the EST interview. “Everything that happened there was recorded straight, and edited later. It was the beginning of sampling, you can say.”

One of the first things Can recorded at Inner Space was “Spoon,” a television theme song that became the band’s biggest…

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