Released in 1997 and aligned to the material found on the lovely Can DVD released a few years ago, `Sacrilege' is a remix project centring on one of the most evolutionary bands of all time, the mighty Can. The core line-up of Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit & the late Michael Karoli appeared to approve of this approach taken towards their material - evident in the sleeve notes and on the documentary part of the Can DVD (& also the highly amusing video of Westbam's take on `I Want More' that the foursome cut an amusing rug to). Like Bill Laswell's retake of late 60s/early 70s Miles Davis `Panthalassa', the similar `Mutant TG' remix of Throbbing Gristle works & the second disc of Gang of Four's `Return the Gift' there is a very contemporary feel to the tracks here - with Can I'm still not sure if it is the remixer or the work that is being remixed?
The title, explained by Schmidt in the DVD documentary, nods to some people's idea of what remixing Can appeared to tantamount: sacrilege. Daniel Miller points out that certain key Can fans from the world of rock and roll declined the offer of remixing - Mark E Smith, Julian Cope, John Lydon. They appeared to have thought the originals were untouchable, which is more than fair enough, and something Brian Eno appears to have wrestled with according to his sleeve notes here (all the remixers say a little something). But the originals are all lovingly restored and remastered and thoroughly available - this is a bonus take on the mighty Can, which is not for everyone but feels thoroughly necessary. Especially when many recent acts nod their way - Primal Scream (`Burning Wheel's intro is `Future Days'!), Kasabian, & Death in Vegas and their influence has been acknowledged/referenced/borrowed by such acts as David Bowie, Happy Mondays, Sonic Youth, Wire, Julian Cope, Loop, David Sylvian, Public Image Ltd, Radiohead, Talk Talk, Alan Warner, Throbbing Gristle (who seem quite analogous to them and a band dependent on what each individual brought without commercial concessions), Ultravox!, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lo Fidelity All Stars, Stereolab, The Fall & tons of others (there are many mentions of them as an influence in John Robb's recent Punk Rock history).
The sixteen different versions here approach Can material from Delay 1968 (Eno's Pnoom), Ege Bamyasi (Sonic Youth's Spoon; the U.N.K.L.E. mix of Vitamin C), Unlimited Edition (Kevorkian's Blue Bag; Bruce Gilbert's take on TV Spot), Soundtracks (Tango Whiskeyman by A Guy Called Gerald), Tago Mago (the Orb's version of Halleluwah; Gareth Jones & Daniel Miller's reworking of Oh Yeah & Secret Knowledge's version of the latter too), Future Days (Carl Craig's Blade Runner mix), Flow Motion (Westbam's reworked I Want More & Air Liquide's mix of the title track), & Monster Movie (Father Cannot Yell by Pete Shelley & Black Radio & Yoo Doo Right by 3P). In addition, there is the intriguing Unfinished Hiller/Kaiser/Leda Mix & System 7's collision of Soon Over Babaluma's Dizzy Dizzy and Ege Bamyasi's Spoon - which should satisfy those mystified by Sonic Youth's slowed down version of the latter!
It's all highly listenable and makes you think of the originals and how groundbreaking they were that they can give way to seemingly endless versions of themselves. The Miller/Jones take on Oh Yeah is great, as is the Westbam `...And More', Craig's breakbeat ridden `Future Days' , Gilbert's eclectic `TV Spot' & Eno's too brief `Pnoom.' It's kind of surprising that certain records aren't alluded to - it would be interesting to hear a reworking of Landed's Verbal Equinox, Rite Time's Below this Level, Can's All Gates Open, or Saw Delight's Animal Waves. I think another contemporary remix of Can should be done in the future and tracks like those should be tackled, as well as attention given to tracks like Mushroom, Bel Air, Mother Sky, Aumgn, I'm So Green, Moonshake, Splash, Chain Reaction, Thief & Last Night Sleep that I'd love to hear a remix of.
I bought this in a sale alongside a similarly reduced Can DVD and the two compliment each other wonderfully, giving a dimension to a band that always seemed to have infinite dimensions anyway. More than interesting then...
on 13 November 2013
I'm a great fan of remixing, one of the most interesting aspects of modern music. However, just like an old-fashioned cover version of a song, to be successful a remix has to be different from the original yet at least as good, which is often quite something to pull off.
It is interesting to learn that some of those approached declined the opportunity to put their own stamp on a Can track, but I think that they probably made the right decision. Now it may just be that I have been listening to Can for over 40 years, but it seems to me that the majority of these versions fall short of the standards mentioned in the above paragraph and often seem to merely trivialise the originals.
Of course -as Brian Eno effectively says in the CD booklet- taking on things that were very good in their original form means that you are setting yourself quite a challenge. It is often the case that films which worked well in their original form are remade, while those which still have some potential for development are ignored and perhaps the same thing has happened here?
Still, the band like it in the main, so as with most things (and especially music) it's all down to personal taste. I think I'm with Damo Suzuki though, who simply says, "It's not my tea".
on 12 January 2004
This is a great album, full of interesting details and quirky ideas. Some tracks are more obviously songs than others, but there's plenty of variety. I'm only familiar with a small amount of Can's work, so I can't vouch for how much has changed in these remixed versions, but the tracks I am familiar with seem to have changed drmatically.
For instance, Future Days, one of my favourites, is barely recognisable and seems to have been overlaid with a tune and beat that puts it in a completely different key, if you can imagine that. However, this may be what they meant when they titled the album Sacrilege - certainly this version of Future Days is no gentle reworking, it's ripped to bits. But I like it, and the rest of the album is a real grower.
Buy it - but be prepared to rethink your favourite Can tracks.