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THE CAN PROJECT

BARBICAN EVENT - 8 APRIL 2017

Saturday 8 April saw a very special event at the Barbican, London marking Can’s 50th anniversary year. Irmin Schmidt conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, presenting the world premiere of an original orchestral work composed by Schmidt and Gregor Schwellenbach, Can Dialog, which included quotations of some of the band’s most well-known pieces. In addition Irmin Schmidt also conducted the world premiere of the concert version of La Fermosa, Ballett-Suite by Irmin Schmidt.

The second half of the show provided an entirely different experience of Can material, as realized by The Can Project, a specially curated supergroup brought together by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore featuring Can’s first singer Malcolm Mooney, Steve Shelley, Deb Googe, James Sedwards, Pat Thomas, Valentina Magaletti and Tom Relleen.

The Can Project has just been confirmed for Glastonbury in June this year and will be joined by Irmin Schmidt for that performance.

Can, founded in 1967 released their debut album Monster Movie (1969) which set them apart from the mainstream, carving out a sound that transcended the boundaries of experimental electronic, jazz and modern classical music. Can’s influence extends from post-punk musicians such as Joy Division and Primal Scream, through avant-garde composers including Bernhard Lang, to Radiohead. Schmidt himself began his musical career as a pupil of Stockhausen and Ligeti, and conducted numerous high-profile orchestras in his native Germany and abroad. Hearing the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa in the 60s led to the formation of Can but Schmidt never lost touch with his avant-garde classical upbringing, and it is to Schmidt that Can owed much of its musical eclecticism.

To celebrate Can’s 50th anniversary, Faber & Faber are publishing a new book devoted to Can, “All Gates Open” in spring 2018. The special edition will come in two volumes: one will be the first complete, authorised biography of the band written by Rob Young and the second, Can Kiosk by Irmin Schmidt, is a collage of thoughts, visuals and interviews (interviews collated by Max Dax and Robert Defcon).

A Q&A with Rob Young about the forthcoming book preceded the Barbican show this weekend. During an extended interval there was a screening of Can’s 1972 live performance at the Cologne Sporthalle.

 

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