One More Night
for Michael Karoli

I was listening to a broadcast by Irmin Schmidt and Jono Podmore last Sunday night (November 18, 2001), a part of their collaboration as Masters Of Confusion, when I got a message about Michael Karoli's sudden death. Some coincidence.

The first thing that came to mind was my favourite Can album, Ege Bamyasi, which is not one that Karoli hogged the limelight on. And that is the point. The band are a unified collective on this recording. OK, so Jaki Liebezeit and Holger Czukay are often up-front in the mix, an unusual occurrence for bands at that time. But the whole band are so tight and together and Karoli's contribution cannot be underestimated as it shares spaces with Schmidt's keyboards and underpins some of Damo Suzuki's hoarse whisperings.

Karoli is there chopping at the rhythms and adding simple clean guitar lines, especially on 'On More Night'. This is one of the tightest pieces with drums and bass to the fore but his guitar adds bluesy, almost funky licks that blend well with Schmidt's limpid keyboards. He never adds more than is needed and proved that restraint could be a tool in the baggage of 70s guitarists.

And then on the opening track 'Pinch' he mixes rare flashes of feedback and more of those choppy, angular rhythms that fit perfectly within the framework of the piece. Never assertive but following the voice and darting into gaps between Liebezeit's perfect time his was an integral ingredient of the band on, for me, their most careful distillation of their sound. Check out 'I'm So Green' and 'Spoon' for more proof.

He did come to the fore on later albums and also showed his abilities as a violinist too but this is the one I come back to and will remember him by.

© Paul Donnelly 2001