Monday, January 23, 2017

Jaki Liebezeit, Love Time, and a selection of recordings...

Liebezeit translates roughly to "Love Time" in english. Time, in the musical sense, comes up often when discussing the drumming talents of Jaki Liebezeit. His amazing sense for time, repetition, and groove have made him a legend for record collectors and musicians alike. I like to think that in some cosmic way, as Can was discovering their identity in the early 70's, Jaki was landing on the same  post-Miles acid groove as Tony William's. So much is being written on his long life and outstanding career, his contributions to both modern and past music, and his many stellar collaborations. In the ocean of well deserved praise, I thought I would include a little write up on some of my favorite tracks and lesser known musical moments featuring Jaki.

This is when I finally understood! Watching Can's Free Cologne Concert at Nowe Miasto with my good friend Clayton. Years before, the first discussion Clayton and I ever had involved Can, where he gauged whether or not I was into "weird music". By the time we got together to watch this, I knew the  Can recordings well. But seeing Jaki's technique in unison with the other member's of Can was illuminating! A master of keeping it together and improvising.

I debated including Brian Eno's "Backwater", a track from Before and After Science that I have long had a love/hate relationship with. However, this is the track that introduced me to Jaki as a session musician, as a player outside of Can. It's a shame he never got to work with Bowie

Where Jaki's sidework playing really clicked for me was with Neu's Michael Rother on his late 70's solo albums. The songs are, to me, a great realization of the Neu formula. Repetitive, pretty, consonant, and entrancing. Jaki played drums on Michael's first four solo albums, which featured only two of them with with Michael playing everything non percussive. Here are some of my favorites

Here's an LP from Jaki's early days in one of the many jazz ensembles in which he drummed. The Manfred Schoof Quintet album "Voices" is Jaki's first recording credit.

Here's a weird one! A flop in my opinion. This is Bernd aka Zeus, organist and sometimes frontman of seminal Krautrock band Birth Control. Birth Control is definitely more in the British/American hard rock influenced spectrum of Krautrock, and I definitely know many fans of Can that don't favor them. They were very popular in their time, but the appreciation did not last in the same way it did for Can. I love how overtly political they are! Anyway, this is a cut from Bernd's second solo album as Zeus, "Europium" (clever!). Jaki definitely emulating the rhythmbox on this one.

Im also a fan of Jaki's many collaborations with Holger Czukay of can. Holger's solo work deserves it's own blog post, but many modern ideas about sampling and looping in a pop fashion are displayed way before their time on his albums. He was approaching "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts" years before it was out! I should note that Czukay's album Der Osten ist Rot is essentially a collaborative album between himself and Jaki. Here's some cuts I enjoy!

After Can broke up, Holger and bassist Roscoe Gee (also of late period Traffic) went on to form Phantom Band with members of Dunkelziffer. If you're a fan of late period can, a lot of it fit's in nicely in their continuity. 

Beyond Jaki's talents with other progressive and kosmische artists, Jaki lent his talents to many neue deutsche welle artists in the 80's, crossing a generation and gap and adding drums to many a skronky synthy track. Imagine being a young band and requesting the drummer from Can to play on your album of weird music and having the request granted? 

Did you know Jaki played on this Eurythmics single? Thanks, Conny Plank! Holger also does some of the sound effects for the song. Surprised they weren't in the video.

Jaki is featured on this amazing Gianna Nannini track. Thanks again, Conny!

Klaus Dinger and Jaki on a single track? Too good to be true? I know that Neondian is a polarizing album with an extreme cheese factor, but it has a special place in my krautrock hall. Just learned Jaki plays percussion on lead in track.

Jaki is credited with percussion on this Depeche Mode track from Ultra! I remember Witchbeam turned me onto this and later depeche mode through some postings. I've listened to the track about four times trying to find Jaki's percussion but i'm sure it's in there somewhere. It could also be a sample credit

I'm obsessed with this collab album Jaki made with members of Bel Canto Orchestra the same year as the above track. 20 years after the Can heydey and his drumming is still in amazing form, plus the songs are abstract, weird, and groovy! Very modern sounding. 

Jaki was also part of an acid production group called Club Off Chaos that I really enjoy. He never gets credit for this it seems.

Related is Jaki's involvement in the Drums Off Chaos project, which released two amazing albums of percussive layers and ambient textures (courtesy of Jens-Uwe Beyer) I really love this track! 

In 2014, Jaki recorded a collaborative album with one of my favorite musicians of the krautrock era, Hans Joachim Irmler, keyboardist and one part of the insanity that was Faust. Here is a nice improv-leaning track. 

And special note should go to this downtempo Schiller track which is one of Jaki's final credits. From Schiller's huge and collaborative 2016 release "Zeitreise"

Well that's about all I have! Jaki was just shy of a 50 year recording career with releases, collaborations, and appearances on a huge variety of albums! He performed right up until his passing. A full life that has inspired myself and countless others. Rest in peace, Jaki

Jaki Liebezeit

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