Holger Czukay - Persian Love

Holger Czukay
Persian Love

Released 1979 on EMI
Reviewed by Jasonaparkes, 06/05/2007ce

- single released on Barclay/EMI, taken from the album 'Movies' (1979), and collected on 'Cannibalism No. 3 (solo)' released as Spoon CD 22 as part of the Spoon reissue programme in the 1990s.

At present, 1979's 'Movies' is currently deleted, which is probably as well since it suffers from the same dodgy mastering qualities that the Can-back-catalogue suffered from when intially transferred to CD for the first time. The Can back-catalogue has all been lovingly remastered and reissued, an article last year in Mojo had a piece on 'Movies' by John Foxx, who recalled Czukay making it in Conny Plank's studio where Ultravox (without the '!' by this stage) were recording 'Systems of Romance.' The four-track LP featuring 'Cool in the Pool', 'Oh Lord Give Us More Money', 'Persian Love', and 'Hollywood Symphony' was a key release of the era and hugely influential. 'Cool in the Pool' and 'Persian Love' would feature on the 'Cannibalism No 3' compilation of Can-solo works, while 'Cool...' would also find its place on the soundtrack to 'Morvern Callar', alongside Can's 'I Want More' , Hazelwood & Sinatra's 'Some Velvet Morning', and Stereolab's 'Blue Milk' (the author of 'Morvern Callar' Alan Warner has dedicated each of his books to Can-members, while the compilations Morvern listens to in the book are Can and Czukay heavy, alongside stuff like Lee'Scratch'Perry, Magazine, PM Dawn, Miles Davis and Cocteau Twins). 'Movies' is currently going at a silly price on Amazon & E-Bay, even in its dodgy cd version - so I made do with the 'Cannibalism No. 3' compilation in the meantime - which is a but hit and miss, the best material being the tracks from Czukay's 'Movies' and 'On the Way to the Peak of Normal' (1981). 'Persian Love' is the track that stands out and typifies the new approach, released as a single here and there, it's the song to focus on, and reason alone to buy the reissue of 'Movies' when it comes out (Czukay opted to reissue later solo material first, which I'm not too sure about, going on 'Rite Time' - though I did like the two albums Czukay recorded with David Sylvian, 'Flux & Mutability' and 'Plight & Premonition', as well as 'Full Circle' - reviewed elsewhere on Unsung).

'Persian Love' (6:22)

composed, recorded, mixed, edited, and produced by Holger Czukay, advised by Conny Plank.

Holger Czukay - guitar, keyboards, synthesiser, short waves, bass, french horn
Jaki Liebezeit - drums, congas

recorded at CAN-studio, mixed at Conny's studio, edited at Holger's LAB.

Both sampling and world music had existed prior to 'Persian Love', an early example of the former being found on Lee 'Scratch' Perry's 'Dub-Triptych', which found Perry sampling the 'Doctor'-movies and 'Kojak', while Gavin Bryar's 1975-piece 'Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet' looped a field-sample of a tramp singing around a classical piece featuring Michael Nyman and produced by Brian Eno. & world music, as it later became tagged, was appearing in all sorts of places, from the 'Brian Jones Presents...' album focusing on Morocco, to Fela Kuti, to Os Mutantes - as well as elements surfacing in Can's material from 'Soon Over Babaluma' onwards. Czukay left Can in 1979, though still worked with members, notably Jaki Liebezeit who would play on many of his records.

In Can, Czukay had often spliced and edited the tapes etc down from the improvisational jams that created the tracks we know on Can albums - a key example probably being 1971's 'Halleluwah', which takes a seemingly simple funk-based track into a myriad of directions. Czukay advanced this editing technique with the material that became 'Movies', choosing to sample from the radio and movies on the TV, and splice together with rhythms etc. Eno was present and noted this technique, clearly experimenting on parts of Bowie's 'Lodger' ('Yassassin') and the opening and closing tracks from Talking Heads' 'Fear of Music' ('I Zimbra' for the world music elements/'Drugs' for the sampling) - the two coming together on the celebrated 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.' & to be fair, other acts were getting to similar climes - Cabaret Voltaire employing a similar approach to samples as 'My Life...' on 1979's 'Voice of America', prior to tracks distinctly more world like 'Yashar.' The Slits' hit upon these tribal rhythms, as 23 Skidoo and This Heat went in similar directions, and a post-PIL Jah Wobble became obssessed with what he termed "Kebab-House music." And maybe 'Persian Love' was key in all that? I guess that a track like 'Program' by Silver Apples is key - radio samples and a motorik rhythm, though the hippy singing and lyrics isn't present..

'Persian Love' is one of those addictive songs that I can play over and over, despite the fact it isn't really a song, and I am not fluent in the sampled languages. But somehow that doesn't matter and it all makes some sense. The guitar on it sounds joyous and very much like 'Foolish Harp/Waeerera' by The Bhundu Boys, a song collected on the great Uncut-free cd 'John Peel's Festive 15' and also used on trailers for films on the Tartan arthouse range of VHS tapes in the 1990s. 'Persian Love' probably making space for the Bhundu Boys, Paul Simon's 'Graceland', David Byrne's world label, albums like 'Naked' and 'Rei Momo', the soundtrack to 'The Catherine Wheel', Sylvian and Wobble's work wit Czukay, and 'Across the River' by Peter Gabriel et al. Alongside 'Yashar', 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' and 'Power Spot', it demonstrated new directions - as well as predicting the type of sampledelic approach which would be used later on by acts such as The Beastie Boys, De La Soul, DJ Shadow and Public Enemy - though Czukay's alien sources are much more interesting, and probably have more in common with Richie Hawtin's mix album from 2000 - weaving together the unfamiliar. I'm sure that 'Persian Love' was used as a model for the world/futurist parts of the soundtrack to 'Blade Runner' too.

Tape manipulation an proto-sampling have never created a more addictive track - 'Persian Love' is one of the few tracks that I can happily play over and over on repeat, joining songs like the alt-version of 'Flamenco Sketches', Scritti Politti's 'The Sweetest Girl', 'Children Crying' by The Congos, 'Little Johnny Jewel' by Television, 'Evening of Light' by Nico, 'By This River' by Eno/Roedelius (...and so on...) The list is long, but not that long really - 'Persian Love' one of those songs I could listen to anytime. I wonder if there's much else like it, I'm generally scared of world music due to the demograph and generic obedience and stuff like Womad...Any suggestions welcome.

I am very pro the whole post-punk era, there were a lot of great acts and records, though the notion of celebrating the bleak works of bands like Joy Division is an odd one. It wasn't all that gothic gloom, maybe part of that approach was a dead end and Sumner and co would have cheered up even if Curtis had stuck around? 'Persian Love' shows "an index of possibilities" as Czukay rapped on Sylvian's 'Backwaters' a few years later (Sylvian samples a persian love song at the start of 1987's 'Maria'). Non-European guitars feature. Alien Samples. & the mindblowing drums and percussion of Liebezeit - the way his live-playing is used and fused is mindblowing stuff, even if people can achieve much the same by pro-tools these days. 'Persian Love' was probably one of the most important tracks of the era, a song that made me re-write the godawful desert island disc-list. To be stranded with this?...it would be a pleasure. As Alan Warner said, "It is 6:22 of what beauty and life's joy there is to extract..."

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