Thirty years ago, former Japan singer/guitarist David Sylvian and CAN legend Holger Czukay released "Plight & Premonition", a collaborative album whose experimental spirit still amazes today. One year later they continued their cooperation with "Flux + Mutability". Now the German label Greenland is relaunching its adventurous works. David Sylvian tells the story of its creation.
Holger Czukay, co-founder of CAN, one of the most avant-garde, experimental and renowned German rock bands, died in 2017 at the age of seventy-nine. He was found dead in the CAN studio near Cologne. Where throughout his life he pursued his enormous urge to explore music and where thirty years earlier he invited David Sylvian, who was not even thirty years old at the time. He remembers: "Holger and I were in constant contact in the eighties. So his invitation to the Cologne studio at the end of 1986 came as no surprise. I should contribute some vocals to 'Music In The Air', the last track on Holger's next album 'Rome Remains Rome'."
This was not the first collaboration between Sylvian and Czukay, because already on the first Sylvian solo albums "Brilliant Trees" (1984) and "Alchemy: An Index Of Possibilities" (1985) Czukay made some contributions.
"It was already evening when I arrived in Cologne, and it was a cold winter night," David Sylvian remembers. "I was accommodated in a small, depressing boarding house not far from the studio. Holger and I ate something and talked about the recordings the next day." But it should come differently, because the two of them made a nightly detour to the CAN studio after their visit to the restaurant, which had serious consequences. Sylvian: "It was the first time I entered the studio. A dilapidated, abandoned cinema. The walls, floor and ceiling were covered with mattresses. The control room and the recording room were not separate."
While the Briton recapitulates the events, the details bubble out of him. A sign of how much he was influenced by the cooperation at that time. Between Czukay and Sylvian a creative magic spontaneously came up that night. "There was a bunch of instruments there, including a harmonium. I always liked the sound of the harmonium, but never had the opportunity to play one before. I sat down at the instrument, played some drones. After some time I heard various orchestra samples filling the room. I fell into a trance and played on and on to these ethereal sounds."