20 Xmas Gift Ideas For Crate Diggers: Krautrock & Doom Metal (Part 2 of 5)

We continue our guide to the most desirable fetish-objects for the seasoned shellac hoarders. Now it’s the turn of guitar music lovers. We have decided to stick to the obvious choice of the long-awaited 17xLP studio albums collection by Germany’s supreme avant rock collective Can on Mute and too-long-out-of-print Halloween coloured-wax edition of the drone metal epic “Black One” by Stephen O’Malley’s Sunn O))).


Can “Vinyl Box2013 | Mute

Yellow linen wrapped 17 LP boxset of primarily studio albums by Can is out on Mute / Spoon Records in December '13.

Yellow linen wrapped 17 LP boxset of primarily studio albums by Can is out on Mute / Spoon Records in December '13.

There is not much that is left to squeeze out of Germany’s greatest rock export. Can’s studio albums spend their fare share of time being somewhat rare and out-of-reach (at least on vinyl) throughout the late 80s and 90s up until Mute embarked on the sporadically scheduled and fragmented reissue campaigns over the last 15 years or so. Despite the lack of physical media the profile of krautrock’s eternal sanctity continued to rise and reached a semblance of a peak in mid-00s when almost the entirety of newly discovered musicians and producers in both, rock and electronic music, made it obligatory to confess their love of Can. Most likely discovered via lo-res CD rips.

When the band’s studio efforts sufficiently imprinted themselves on the collective consciousness of the new generation labels started to catch up and dig for Can’s abundant archive of live recordings followed by the legendary library of unreleased stuff. The appetite for the latter was more or less satisfied with last year’s revelatory and really extremely accomplished (for unreleased material especially) “The Lost Tapes” boxset, which focused on the band’s most interesting and prolific run of 1968 to 1975. This leads us to an even more decadent 17xLP albums anthology pack mutually released by Mute and Can’s own label Spoon, which is promised to hit the shelves on December 2. There’s bound to be few revelations here, since Can studio albums are more than well researched by now. Still it is a rare opportunity to lay your hands on the totality of the music officially approved for released by one of the most radically unique and single-minded collectives in 20th century popular music.

It goes without saying that considering everyone involved in this project all of the material contained in the boxset underwent sensible remastering from original master tapes and has few heart-warming exclusive extras for dedicated fanbase, most important of which is refreshingly non-bootleg edition of Can’s live set in Sussex University circa 1975. 

Below is the bizarre curio of Can lipsynching (probably once in their lifetime) to the upbeat opening cut off "Flow Motion" album "I Want More" on 1976 edition of Top Of The Pops. We are living in the strange, strange world.

Sunn O))) “Black One 2013 | Southern Lord (Originally released in 2005)

Halloween edition of metal drone epic "Black One" by Seattle's Sunn O))) still available (for a short while) via Southern Lord.

Halloween edition of metal drone epic "Black One" by Seattle's Sunn O))) still available (for a short while) via Southern Lord.

Who would believe a little over 13 years ago that Stephen O’Malley’s profile as a musician and curator would approach something resembling the monolithic reputation and influence of such cultural ambassador as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. It is hard to overestimate the influence that his most renowned doom metal outfit Sunn O))) instilled on the experimental music of the last 10 years. It is now quite comparable to that of his own idols Earth, whose preferred brand of amps famously inspired the name of O’Malley’s project. He is frequently seen collaborating with the most innovative and accomplished artists of today that range from Japanese noise-music veteran Merzbow, industrial pioneer Z’EV, finnish techno head Mika Vainio, experimental guitarists Fennesz and Oren Ambarchi, the boss of experimental music’s stronghold Editions Mego Peter Rehberg, sometimes Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar, Canada’s one and only electronic drone artist Tim Hecker and even Romanian electro-acoustic composer Iancu Dumitrescu. His skills as an artist and designer is more and more desirable lately with astonishing contributions to the difficult craft of albums artwork such as the one seen on Editions Mego series of academic and musique concrète reissues of GRM back-catalogue or already-iconic sleeve for “Returnal” by Onehtrix Point Never. He also found time to curate Editions Mego sub-label Ideologic Organ eventually making it one of the most respected and adventurous in the business. With entries coming from the less widely-known and criminally under-the-radar electro-acoustic composers such as EMS Stockholm director Mats Lindström, Hungarian icon of electronic composition Ákos Rózmann and already mentioned Dumitrescu you can do no wrong really. But it definitely takes the nerve to embark on such big and demanding projects while being involved in numerous simultaneous projects with fellow musicians.

If anything “Black One” was that one album that make this transition of O’Malley into the role of cultural hero and Renaissance man possible. Although the latest official album of Sunn O))) “Monoliths & Dimensions” is justly considered their ultimate masterpiece, which famously demanded employing the army of classically trained musicians and even Viennese woman’s choir, less epic scale of “Black One” was that brief moment in time when the project was still considered at home in death metal highly protective circles, simultaneously being accepted in the realm of high-brow sound-art installations and galleries as well as being written about in hipster-catering online publications. “Black One” also features projects most affecting and visceral delivery which doesn’t have even a slightest hint of irony. That being with track titles such as tribute to Hungarian blood-bathing countess “Báthory Erzsébet” and locking claustrophobic vocalist Malefic (Xasthur) in the casket to record the vocals for it. If you haven’t yet experienced the glorious pitch-black coldness of the record you can be forgiven for laughing at the recordsing process pranks. None of it seems to entertain fun during playback though.

“Black One” has been released as a special deluxe edition for Record Store Day Special Black Friday event in late November and comes on variously colored wax. I guess you could still secure yourself a copy of this literally stone-cold classic to accompany the most bleak of post-Christmas afternoons