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Damo Suzuki, Legendary Can Vocalist, Dies at 74




< The Japanese musician performed and recorded with the German krautrock band for a short but important period in the early 1970s

By Matthew Strauss

February 10, 2024

Damo Suzuki, the Japanese musician who spent a handful of memorable years as the lead singer of Can, died yesterday (February 9) at the age of 74. Can’s label, Spoon Records, did not disclose a cause of death in its announcement, but Suzuki had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014. “His boundless creative energy has touched so many over the whole world, not just with Can, but also with his all continents spanning Network Tour,” the label wrote. “Damo’s kind soul and cheeky smile will be forever missed.”

Born Kenji Suzuki in Kobe, Japan, the musician found his way to Germany by the late 1960s, joining Can after bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit spotted him busking outside of a Munich cafe. Can had released just one album, 1969’s Monster Movie, with original vocalist Malcolm Mooney before Suzuki joined for some work on 1970’s Soundtracks. The group’s first full album with Suzuki was 1971’s Tago Mago, and the vocalist truly made his mark on 1972’s Ege Bamyasi, featuring “Vitamin C” and “Spoon.” Suzuki made just one more LP with the krautrock band, Future Days, before departing in 1973.

After leaving Can, Suzuki became a Jehovah’s Witness and spent about a decade away from music entirely. When he returned to music, he played shows globally with different local musicians, referring to the tours as Damo Suzuki’s Network. He recorded numerous Network and solo releases over the ensuing decades.

With co-author Paul Woods, Suzuki released the memoir I Am Damo Suzuki in 2019. The musician was also the subject of director Michelle Heighway’s 2022 documentary Energy. >




< A 1971 TV clip from the long-running German series Beat Club shows guitarist Michael Karoli, drummer Jaki Liebezeit, bassist Holger Czukay and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt – all in luminous psychedelic colour – methodically coalescing around the abstract groove of the song Paperhouse. After about a minute of jazzy extemporisation, the camera cuts suddenly to the extraordinary figure of Suzuki, stick-thin with cascading hair and naked to the waist. He sings in blank verse with no rhyme scheme, often hard to decipher and gliding freely between soundalike words – but the gentle, reflective longing is unmistakable. Towards the end, you finally catch one line clearly: “You can make everything what you want with the head”. The sense of infinite possibility that suffused Suzuki’s lyrics resonated perfectly with the adventurous spirit of Can – whose genesis in part was through the West German art scene – and his fluid wordplay was at the heart of some of the strangest and most exotic rock of the 1970s. >




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i was fortunate to see Damo in early 2000's at Revolver. I think it was a year or so before this gig also at Revolver which had unfortunately for us sold out due to the presence of Mars Volta's guitarist! Heaps of young'uns had turned up for him not Damo.

Impressive band lineup for Damo for this one! Tony Buck and Chris Abrahams from The Necks and Oren Ambarchi.


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< For the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, cosmic nomad Damo Suzuki made annual trips to Australia, zigzagging across the country to perform improvised sets with a constant rotation of unacquainted sound carriers. While most of these limitless jams only existed in a passing flash, one special document exists - The Swiftsure Session.

Recorded deep in the Melbourne suburbs at Corduroy Records in 2004, these 48 minutes of free energy were cut direct to vinyl in real time. No overdubs or editing. Nothing but live tension. Dualling guitarists Emil Sarlija and Oren Ambarchi (later of hysterical prog group Superstupid) wandered blindly to a rhythm section anchored by Augie March's Davey Williams and Edmondo Ammendola, while Damo exercised his voice as an instrument, often indecipherable, inviting the listener to create their own stories. In this room, every sound carrier is equal, opting out of any cues or direction. The only direction is UP!

Damo's spirit comes with one consideration - audience members must be present as playing to cold studio machines restricts the communication. To bridge a feedback loop, 20-30 friends and fans banded around the shared space. Engineer Harry Williamson, who has his own psychedelic history as a member of Nik Turner's Sphynx and Mother Gong, manned the controls, ready to flip the acetate.

Rushed to press to beat the plant's imminent closure, the original short run of The Swiftsure Session stretched 2LPs with a blank side. Here it is boiled down to a single disc, maximising the listening experience. 

released September 29, 2017 >




< Corduroy Records was a vinyl record pressing plant and record label[1][2] that existed from 1994 to 2005 in Highett, Victoria, Australia.[3]

The Corduroy pressing plant was established by Nick Phillips of the garage rock band The Breadmakers who saved Australia's only vinyl pressing plant from the scrap dealers in Sydney and had it relocated to Highett, Victoria.[4][5]

Staff members of Corduroy included several people who were active in Australian bands and record labels, including Mikey Young and Brendan Huntley of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Guy Blackman of Chapter Music, Richard Stanley of Aarght Records, Mark Nelson of The Stabs and Saucerlike Records, Conrad Standish of The Devastations, Shaun Gionis of Boomagates, Brendan Webb of Sandpit, Kellie Laing of Wig Wam Records, and Kim Walvisch of Humber Records.[4]

The pressing plant had the ability to record bands straight to acetate to be pressed onto records, and in 2000 The White Stripes recorded there. These recordings were shelved and remained in Australia until 2012 when the band secured them and were released in 2020.[6] Members of Sonic Youth also recorded at Corduroy, releasing Melbourne Direct in 2004.[7]

In 2005 the pressing plant was bought by Zenith Records[8] and is now located in Brunswick East, Victoria.[9] The new owners have not continued live to acetate recording sessions.[10]


Releases recorded live to acetate at Corduroy.[11]

Bob Log III - Bubblestrut! (2001)[12]

The Dirtbombs - Pray For Pills (2002)[1]

Johnny Casino - Two Sides To Every Coin (2002)

Wayne "The Train" Hancock - The Viper Smoking Across Australia Tour 2002 Souvenir Seven Incher (2002)

Dead Moon - Sabotage / These Times With You (2003)

Kelley Stoltz - Live To Acetate (2003)

Mount Eerie - Mount Eerie Dances with Wolves (2004)

Damo Suzuki Network - The Swiftsure Session (2007)[13] >


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  • 3 weeks later...

Can were one of those bands that few heard of but who influenced many who followed. Damo had a huge impact especially on Mark E Smith of The Fall who wrote I am Damo Suzuki in a tribute to him on This Nations Savings Grace album. Both Can and The Fall had a huge impact on me in my early 20's in the early 1980's......

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