Conny Plank

Who's That Man: A Tribute to Conny Plank

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Konrad "Conny" Plank once described his work as producer as having the ability to "hit [sic] record at the right time." Such modesty does not seem befitting a genuine production maverick such as Plank. After all, this was the producer who ushered in and nurtured Krautrock through his work with Neu!, Cluster, Kraftwerk (on their first four albums), Harmonia, and many more. From his studio on the outskirts of Cologne, he was the man -- up until his death in 1987 -- who helped artists like Can, Ultravox, Eurythmics, and D.A.F. become staples of discerning music listeners' record collections throughout the '70s and '80s. Although there is no defining "Plank sound" among his productions -- as is the case with Phil Spector or Rick Rubin -- there is a high quality standard to his work, a mesmerizing curiosity and urgency to it. It is this sound that holds Plank's work in high regard amongst music aficionados. Whether it's the work he did with D.A.F. on the cold, industrial pop of "Alles Ist Gut" or on the simply euphoric kosmische pop of La Düsseldorf's "Silver Cloud," each production has personality, feeling, and color. Plank understood his artists but perhaps most importantly, he cared. His own productions and collaborations still influence and astound today. As an early embracer of technology and new recording techniques, one just has to listen to the proto-techno of Moebius/Plank/Neumeier's "Pitch Control" or Bluepoint Underground's "Conny Plank" to understand the depth and breadth of his talent. German record label Gronland's wonderful four-disc box set (the first comprehensive collection of its kind) highlights this and much more. It covers the highlights, curios, and collaborations, as well as remixes of his tracks by contemporary artists. It also includes his last live recording in 1986, where he performed his 1983 album, Ludwig's Law, with Dieter Moebius and Arno Steffen. Here is a back catalog that deserves to be pored over, to be learned from, and to be inspired by.

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