Faust – Faust (1971) (@256)
01 Jun 2008
(Review from progreviews.com)
Difficult, dissonant, chaotic, abrasive, scary, German… Faust were all of these things and more on their groundbreaking debut album.
The album opens with a squall of noise as snippets of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” are warped and melted into the din: Faust acknowledges the rock heroes of the previous age and Faust are prepared to terminate them. But a 21st-Century listener somewhat versed in the avant-garde of rock music (or a progressive listener with some positive experience with krautrock, RIO or the Mothers of Invention) shouldn’t find this record either perplexing or unapproachable. Harsh sounds do sometimes cascade upon the listener, (there is more than a passing acquaintance here with the aesthetics of countryman Karlheinz Stockhausen), tape loops abound and the vocals (in both English and German) are mostly limited to primitive shouts and chants and biergarten dances rather than actual singing. But Faust is not trying to destroy rock because they hate it, they’re trying to liberate it because they love it and they adopt the attitude that if morphing it into something new requires that it first be ferociously beaten into a substance more malleable, then, so be it.
To that end, although the album has its less accessible moments, it is still grounded in both tonality and rock traditions – even if the latter isn’t always apparent. This is one of those albums you really wish you could have heard on the day it was released instead of decades later, after its novelty and innovations have bled into the history of rock music. This music isn’t totally unprecedented, as the Mothers of Invention seem to have invented chaotic, collage-style avant-rock and indeed one of the earlier segments of “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots” sounds a bit like one of Frank Zappa’s Uncle Meat-era themes. This music is much spacier and more effects-laden than anything that the Mothers did, though, and in this sense parts of it remind me of what Gong was doing contemporaneously, the latter part of “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots,” in particular. Both of the two subsequent tracks, “Meadow Meal” and “Miss Fortune”, contain fantastic, rip-roaring guitar solos backed with rock-oriented drumming. Velvet Underground, as well, were earlier champions of low-fi noise-mongering, though history’s verdict on the VU is that they were better when they stayed within rock/pop’s confines than when they deconstructed them. Faust have a better handle on the deconstruction. Or destruction, if you prefer.
As the album nears its end and the spoken vocals are intoned “we have to decide what is important / a war we never see / or a street so black that babies die / a system and a theorie / or our wish to be free / to organize and analyze / and at the end realize that nobody knows / if it really happened”, it is apparent that Faust, at least, believed that they hit upon something of a certain import with this album.
This album doesn’t have to taken dead-serious in order for it to be enjoyed or appreciated. Consigned to cult status pretty much from the get-go, Faust’s first album presents a fascinating side of early avant-garde rock, and is an indispensable piece of Krautrock history. They take an existing aesthetic, use it to forge an entirely independent identity, and produce a brilliant first album.
- Werner Diermeier / drums
- Hans-Joachim Irmler / organ
- Jean-Herve Peron / bass
- Gunter Wusthoff / synthesiser, saxophone
- Rudolf Sosna / guitar, keyboards
- Arnulf Meifert / drums
01. Why Don’t You Eat Carrots (9:35)
02. Meadow Meal (8:05)
03. Miss Fortune (16:35)
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about 6 years ago - 6 comments
(Review from progarchives.com) “Faust IV” manages to be both experimental and engaging, but accessible enough to draw you in, even at its outer limits. This was Faust’s last album of the early period, and their label had insisted they go more commercial. This work is definitely easier on the ear than some of their other…