Veteran of 1970's avant-garde electronica group Can, author of over thirteen albums AND a role in ‘Hair’ the musical, don’t forget – Damo Suzuki’s been busy expanding minds and musical frontiers for nigh on thirty-five years now.
Can was the Velvet Underground for ultra-modern connoisseurs. A more serious, classically influenced and ostensibly inaccessible group that explored musical territories that would have made Yoko Ono seem comprehensible at the time. Later influencing the Buzzcocks, the Fall, P.I.L. and others, there’s certainly no end of praise for anyone that happened to be associated with the band from Cologne. There are certainly serious dangers when the reputation of a man’s former band precedes him – especially when that previous life was in the search of further musical boundaries to push forward. It’s difficult to imagine such inspired inventiveness over such a long period of time.
What’s he pushing now then, apart from the fact that he used to be in Can? To anyone not previously familiar with the style of music, the answer is, quite simply, mind-wrenching madness. What proceeds is a melting pot of musical ideas; an invigorated and part-improvised stream of consciousness that really is difficult to tap into. Haunting organ and distressing blasts of saxophone drone in the background while Damo spews and rants reverb-drenched poetic spirituals throughout. For a good hour he’s on the vocal non-stop, in fact he only stops two or three times in the night, as though he won’t stop unless the drum beat stops first, and vice-versa. With an hour to go they shift two gears into a form of fast, improvised techno-funk – all the while Damo’s in a world of his own; programmed for repetition to destruction, culminating in a tripped crescendo when the pace can’t be kept up anymore.
So come on then, what IS he pushing now then, apart from the fact he used to be in Can? Buggered if anyone really knows, but it’s refreshing to see an older performer stave off any desires of hipness, and just do his own thing.
Whatever that may be.
Photo courtesy of www.damosuzuki.de