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Francis Mansell <Fgmansell@aol.com> (28.01.2004)
One of the things I love about this album is that Polydor gave Faust a contract on Uwe Nettelbeck's say-so, without hearing a single note of their music. Nettelbeck convinced them that they had the new Beatles ... after two albums I guess Polydor realised that they didn't and Faust had to find a new contract with Virgin. But I'm glad that, as I relate below, they were given such carte blanche to do whatever they wanted, and so much help to do it - what major record company would do that now.George, you rightly describe their unique noises. This partly came from the fact that Polydor, as well as paying for communal accommodation and recording space, supplied them with Kurt Graupner, an full-time live-in sound engineer with a deep understanding of electronics, who as well as recording them constructed unique effects units for them. To the music: 'Why Don't You Eat Carrots' features one of the most bizarre fuzz guitar riffs ever recorded, with the vocals following the same "tune" and other weird stuff breaking through from time to time as if the listener was moving the tuning dial slightly between two adjacent radio stations, but my favourite track on the album (and the most musical to Faust virgins, I would imagine) is the second track, Meadow Meal. After a quiet intro involving what sounds like someone blowing across a large pipe, the song section arrives, and has a melody (of sorts) - this one's definitely a SONG. Then the drums announce a speeding up of the tempo and we get a dramatic and oddly melodic (not sweetly melodic, mind you!) fuzz guitar solo - I love this, Rudolf Sosna (sadly long deceased) had a pretty original guitar style, not a technique king but could do a lot of different things (the pretty acoustic ballads on Faust Tapes are his - he was the main songwriter too). Then the song returns for a bit, and apparently ends. Except the track hasn't ended, and we get the coda - a melancholy, middle-European, almost ecclesiastical, theme on the organ. Rather lovely. Side 2 and we're into the longest track, Miss Fortune. In fact this 17 minute track is by far the longest piece Faust ever issued (in the 70s at least), and although there's a huge amount of sound treatment going on, it's one of the most jam-oriented things they ever issued as well - I guess it's the first of their groove/throb/grind/hypnotic numbers, although there's an awful lot more going on than that. But basically it hasn't been chopped up into little bits like a lot of their other stuff - they were happy to go with it for 15 minutes, and the weirdness comes more from the mix and treatments. Now obviously I like Faust a whole lot more than you do, George, but much as I like this album, I also don't think it's their best (though it's more consistent than Faust 4). Certainly, like Michael West, I would point anyone approaching them for the first time at The Faust Tapes. But they had to start somewhere, and as a debut statement, this takes some beating - it would have come completely out of nowhere for most people, they hadn't toured but I would think the incredible packaging would have increased sales quite a lot. I disagree that once you've got used to it it's no longer very interesting to listen to, I think much of it is richly exciting and evocative music that goes places no other band does, not even Can, despite their being far more virtuoso musicians than Faust. I think also like some of the other "krautrock" acts, they were very conscious of being German, and rejecting Anglo-American rock music (despite mostly singing in English) and I think the brief snatches of Beatles and Stones at the beginning are, as much as anything to say, maybe we started from here, but we're going somewhere else. I like your comment about their music obviously involving a lot of work and thought. I've seen the recent Faust line-up live on several occasions, and it's clear that their music doesn't just happen because they bash away and make a horrible racket - it's very considered, in an admittedly rather brutal way. Now personally, I don't think it's a horrible racket at all, I think they have a wonderful and highly original instinct for timbres of sound and how these can be used and combined and this is what makes Faust so good - they have discovered how to make beauty out of ugly sounds. My personal taste is such that I actually find their sounds quite healing ... maybe that's not the right word, but it's positive, not evil. While I like a lot of stuff that is quite "out there", I'm not a devotee of noise/industrial music, certainly like you I don't have much time for Throbbing Gristle. I guess what I'm trying to say is that while Faust may sound very extreme to most people, I don't feel they're trying to put you in a bad place, whereas TG, to me, seem to wallow in sickness quite a lot of the time, even if their intentions are not evil. But the power Faust can still conjure up live when they hit one of those big grooves is quite staggering, though without Rudolf Sosna they've mostly lost the melodic aspect that crops up at times on their 70s music. They sure as hell still sound like Faust, though. Special mention for the original transparent sleeve/lyric sheet/lp - one of the best and most radical examples of record packaging ever - the lp is worth having just as an artifact.
Michael J. West <firstname.lastname@example.org> (26.03.2001)
Whoa, it sounds like something went wrong in the track sequencing on this new remaster of SO FAR. See, the synth riff you love so much (I love it too) is actually--or was actually--the body of the song "Picnic on a Frozen River," not the main riff of "I've Got My Car and My TV." I wonder why they messed it about. However, it doesn't really matter. Point is, this is a FANTASTIC album. Probably my favorite, but don't tell THE FAUST TAPES.
Michael J. West <email@example.com> (27.03.2001)
Now, see, the thing, see, is that while I personally like SO FAR the best, it seems clear to me that THE FAUST TAPES is the most Fausty Faust album to buy. It's the one that's got both the pretty, ambitious melodies and arrangements AND the weird, noisy musique concrete, and everything in between, in one package. To me what's most brilliant about it, though, is that it zips back and forth between these various and sundry ideas (even though many of the pretty ambitious melodies have that lovely blend of weird and accessible in and of themselves) pretty much at random, so if you pick any five- or six-minute section of the album, you get a pretty good snapshot of Faust's entire spectrum. This is why I have to "10" THE FAUST TAPES. But don't tell SO FAR.
Francis Mansell <Fgmansell@aol.com> (07.08.2004)
While this was the last thing they released for a long time, and I generally concur with your comments, apart from not being that keen on "The Sad Skinhead", it's worth pointing out a few things: 1) that "vomiting synth" solo on "It's A Bit Of A Pain" is a guitar put through one of Kurt Graupner's custom-built fx boxes; 2) "It's A Bit Of A Pain" dates back to the sessions for So Far and was originally issued as a single at that time, with an excellent alternate mix of "So Far" itself on the B-side; 3) they did record another album in about 1975 before splitting - this was eventually released in the 1980s as Munic & Elsewhere and is ... another Faust album, and a pretty good one, though not their best. I like it. Soon after recording this they really did split. But half the band (Diermaier, Irmler and Herve-Peron) re-emerged around 1990 and began performing live and making new records. They're all worth hearing but probably the best one is Ravvivando from about 1999; Jean Herve-Peron had been fired by this time and Irmler and Diermaier worked with several other musicians. There were no songs, but a lot of amazing music, very much still sounding like Faust.