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Baker's Dozen

The Spirit Is The Thing: Irmin Schmidt's Favourite Records
Sean Kitching , December 4th, 2015 10:46

As the former Can man releases his Electro Violet box set this week, he boils his all-time favourites down to a 'records of the day' selection, taking Sean Kitching from albums to individual songs and classical compositions


Jimi Hendrix - 'Star Spangled Banner' from Woodstock - Music From The Original Soundtrack And More
For me, the way Hendrix plays this solo all alone, the 'Star Spangled Banner', is like he's creating a new instrument, and that's something which, through all my list, is one of the important things. Like Coltrane recreated, in a way, the saxophone, and Stockhausen recreated, in the '50s - created, actually - the sounds you can do with electronics. And Ligeti invented a totally new sound, never heard before, with a symphony orchestra. Similarly to the Ben Frost, the loudness of Hendrix's guitar, this incredible intensity also has something to do with loudness. The 'Star Spangled Banner' really meant something deep to me, when I heard it the first time. It had such an impact even... at that time, it was about changing my life from a classical conductor and composer and pianist, to found a rock group, and this performance was one of the biggest influences. It changed my life.

I wanted to ask you about the specially designed soundbox you used, that you named the Alpha 77.

I used this throughout my years with Can. It was made specially for me: it was not a keyboard synthesiser, but it has three inputs that you can put the organ or the electric piano through and an oscillator and all three lines you can remodulate, filter and shift around with different electronic possibilities. So that's what I needed so I could ring modulate, for instance, which is one of the basic early electronic features. I designed it, not technically but the idea, and then an electronic engineer built it for me. It was the only synthesiser I had for a long time.