Published on 15th May 2018
Damo Suzuki Network – Damo Suzuki & Jelly Planet
It’s been 50 years since Can burst through the floodgates, bringing the genres of Electronica, Experimental, Avant-Garde, Minimal, Musique-Concrete and Ambient music to the forefront in what would be known as Krautrock, or in the late ‘70s as post-punk. It was like a battering ram, ready to make an impact. When Malcolm Mooney left the band after the release of their 1969 debut album, Monster Movie, Damo Suzuki joined after being discovered by Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit as he was busking in Munich. He was a member of Can from 1970 to 1973.
After classic releases, including Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and, one of my favourites, Future Days, Damo departed to become a Jehovah’s Witness. Can had supporters in The Fall, who named a song after him, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Public Image Limited, Joy Division, Talk Talk, and The Mars Volta, all looking up to Can and their influence.
Purple Pyramid Records have now released this collaboration that sees Damo Suzuki teaming up with German experimental band Jelly Planet for this fully improvised set recorded in 2005. Listening to these two tracks, that clock in at 27 and 34 minutes in length, it is an insane, mind-boggling and weird sonic adventures that sent shivers down my spine.
This isn’t your average Space Rock album, it is a surreal and hypnotic journey that should encourage you to return to your Can vinyl albums, to study and understand how much this release not only brings the Krautrock genre to life again but prepares to hurtle you through the cosmos. Wildschweinbraten, which translates to ‘Roast Wild Boar’, begins with Alexander Schonert and Felix A. Gutierrez as their guitar and bass get the engines ready for lift-off.
And then you hear ‘50s sci-fi synths swirling in a watery effect that brings to mind the theremin and Max Crook’s Musitron, which was used in Del Shannon’s 1961 classic Runaway. For the first eight minutes of this composition it’s an adventure that sees Suzuki and Jelly Planet set the controls for a voyage that is reminiscent of Monster Movie-era Can and Hawkwind’s Spirit Of The Age, from Quark, Strangeness And Charm.
The improvisations head towards a parallel universe in a vortex of strangely beautiful kaleidoscopic lights, before the mood changes to atmospheric feedback as Stephan Hendricks delves into a church-like sermon with scatting from Suzuki as he goes through various warp speeds along with echoing and reverb effects. Hendricks’ synths are like a shrieking and ambient snake, both calm and very fierce.
Damo channels the vocals of Louis Armstrong on Venushügel (‘Venus Hillock’). Felix’s bass creates an intense scenario, like a killer coming to hunt down and murder his next victim, Alexander’s guitar joining the chase. Jelly Planet allow Suzuki free-rein with his vocalisations and he nails it, almost adding a little Dalek through his effects, the whole thing reminding me of an alternate score to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner; you can imagine it being used for Deckard and Batty’s chase sequence in Sebastian’s Apartment, you never know what is going to happen next in this cat-and-mouse segment. Alex’s guitar is ready for another pummelling as he lets go and makes it snarl loudly. Damo’s vocals return with a hissing whisper and Armstrong-esque arrangement as the music calms down, before he speaks through a tape machine backwards effect.
I was completely spellbound listening to this. I didn’t know what to expect, but Damo Suzuki and Jelly Planet took me to a whole new level with some of the most mind-boggling compositions and arrangements. Be prepared for a wild space adventure, trippy, surreal, and in your face.
01. Wildschweinbraten (27:58)
02. Venushügel (34:50)
Total Time – 62:50
Damo Suzuki – Vocals
Felix A. Gutierrez – Bass Guitar
Stephan Hendricks – Keyboards
Jens Küchenthal – Drums
Alexander Schönert – Guitar
Record Label: Purple Pyramid Records
Catalogue Number: CLO 0723
Date of Release: 4th January 2018