The third band in my series on Krautrock’s golden age, Faust, takes in their anarchic debut, ‘So Far’, ‘Faust Tapes’ and ‘Faust IV’ albums.

Faust – The beginnings


Faust taking in their surroundings

All the signs were plainly on view for the whole world to see. From the anarchic backgrounds of the band members, to the adoption of both the bands chosen moniker and all its many connotations: both in reference and visual terms.

Faust translates quite literally as fist, a provocation used as a battering ram against the sensibilities of 70s rock.

The X-ray clenched fist symbol that adorns their debut album cover fits in well with the political stance of groups like the Black Panthers and the Red Army Faction – the iconic images of African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos heads bowed, fists clenched in protest at the 1968 Olympics also springs to mind.

The only people, who remained almost oblivious or ignorant of these relationships, were the bands record label – Polydor.

Bizarrely they were looking to fill the gap that their darling golden calf The Beatles had left after the ‘break-up’ and wished to cash in on the recent flourishing German music scene, where bands like Amon Duul II and Can had made an impact and were starting to shift some modest units; well enough at least for the executives to start taking notice.

In a manner they were after the German equivalent of the fab four, and so they set their chief dude A&R man Kurt Enders onto the streets, hoping to uncover some untapped genius.

Enders was possibly more suited to the turmoil and civil unrest taking part in the country at the time than his stiff collared bosses: possibly believing he could steer any motley bunch of agitators towards a more conventional outlet, suitable enough to make a statement and cause an upset but still keep his job.

I think in his mind he envisaged a sort of band that could peregrinate between the MC5 and maybe even The Stooges, but inherently sounded European; almost a break from the traditions of the current rock music scene, and instead a drive towards a new ascetic.

Enders managed to inspire music journalist and confidant – also the then editor of the leftist mouthpiece publication Konkret – Uwe Nettlebeck to his cause.

Uwe was a controversial figure, who could be relied upon to rub the establishment up the wrong way at a moments notice, he now sat transfixed absorbing the words of Enders. If anyone could put together this sort of act then it would be him.

His form to that point had included a short stint at the mainstream German newspaper Die Zeit, which ended rather abruptly when he wrote a sympathetic article on the upcoming trail of Andreas Baader – of course one of the later instigators and ringleaders of the Baader Meinhof group, and their attempts to destabilise the government through a Marxist doctrine, which led to violence and their final imprisoned act of martyrdom suicide.

After deciding to jump ship from Die Ziet, Uwe ran into the arms of the leftist elite and began writing for the reds counter culture publication of choice Konkret, not before marrying the moderately bourgeoisie film maker Petra Krause and becoming part of the socialist establishment.

Krause came from money, which gave a comfortable cushion for her husband, leading to some un-approving comments from the firebrand Ulrike Meinhof, who was editor-in-chief at Konkret and married to its co-founder Klaus Rainer Rohl until 1967.

Meinhof herself was increasingly being drawn to making ever more controversial statements of intent, leading to an eventual call to arms and the formation of the Red Faction Army with Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Horst Mahler in 1970; also commonly referred to as the Baader Meinhof group.

Meinhof was not so much a ringleader more a sympathiser, she acted as a spokesperson, one who called for more than words in the preconceived struggle against the right wing government and their involvement in allowing the US air force to use bases in the country to deploy troops and bombers for use in the Vietnam war.

She had notably written a piece on the attempted assassination of the student activist Rudi Dutschke on 11th April 1968, her eloquent but provocative article included the now legendary quote:-

‘Protest is when I say this does not please me.

Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more’.

Uwe always knew exactly how far to push things, but he equally knew when to not overstep the mark, especially when words changed to action. Though sympathetic to the causes and speaking in outraged tones, he none the less reined himself in and concentrated on forming a band, leaving the fire bombing and bank robberies to Meinhof and her comrades; though not without be barracked for his stewardship of Konkret at a later date by Meinhof who thought he was: –

‘Turning into an instrument of the counter revolution too late’.

Further criticising him with questionable remarks on his motives with this provocation: –

‘Did we come to recognise the solidarity declarations of Uwe Nettlebeck for what they were – attempts to ingratiate himself’.

Ouch!

Enders now put his faith in Uwe, and handed over a sizable amount of cash to help this new enterprise.

In 1969 Uwe came across the underground band Nukleus via the filmmaker contact Helmut Costa, who was a neighbour of one of the bands members, Jean- Herve Peron. Peron, who played bass in Nukleus, was asked along with his band mates Rudolf Sosna, on guitar, and Gunter Wusthoff on sax to help form a new group.

Peron had previous form, taking part in the Paris riots and student unrest in 68 and traveling barefoot across America busking, soaking up the burgeoning changes taking place. Of course along with his band mates, Peron jumped at the chance to be involved in this new project.

To swell the ranks, Uwe asked members of another underground band, the more then a mouthful Campylognatus Citelli, whose drummer, Werner ‘Zappi’ Diermaier, keyboardist , Hans-Joachim Irmler and percussionist Arnulf Meirfert now swelled the ranks.

The seeds of Faust were theoretically now born, though it would take the patience and delegation of outsiders to actually squeeze anything resembling recordable material from them.

Rehearsals were pretty much unheard of, the band frowning upon such conventional ideas as weak, hell Meirfert was kicked out of the group at a later date for daring to practice!

A hastily recorded session was put together in late 1969 at the, recently label funded commune retreat they’d set up by the river Wumme near to Hamburg. The resulting session didn’t exactly fill expectations, Polydor were concerned, especially as they were handed, what amounted to the debut album from Uwe.

These first attempts were scrapped and an injection of more cash with which to buy some new studio equipment was dolled out. Also there came a conditional extra addition in the shape of sound engineer Kurt Graupner, who would act as the straight and take charge of the recordings. He may not have toked, pissed where he liked, strolled around nude, fuck chicks whenever it took his fancy or punch his fellow band mates in the face to get a point across, but he did bring with him a magic box of amazing effects that contained a plethora of pedals, modulators and space dust, turning even the most dull riff into a pulchritude sweeping triumph or bowel dislodging scream of terror – oh and he drove around in the bourgeoisie carriage of choice, the Porsche, to boot!

The commune setting proved distracting to say the least, as every misshapen drop out, hanger on and stray dog who walked by was taken in over the next two years.

At the time these ramshackle free for all hotbeds of experimental living conditions had a more serious political motivation then their counterparts in say the UK or US: One day a prominent activist film maker swings by to indulge in some no strings free-loving and drug addled nights of pleasure, the next a wanted member of the Red Faction Army comes crashing in looking for a place to lie low.

There was never a dull moment during 1970/71, especially with the constant police raids – poor Peron waking one day to find the barrel of a gun pointing down at him as he woke from his stupor.

Some visitors stayed for the long term, including Peter Blegvad of the Anglo/German band Slapp Happy, whose own albums would feature various members of Faust during this period.

The rather chaotic lifestyle led to many experiments in the studio itself over the two years that the band had now been playing together for, where a catalogue of strangers waltzed in and out on a whim, adding their own sniffling, coughing, retching or moments of ingenuity to the rich mix.

A disregard for etiquette led to some dazzling free form jams and inspired improvisation, though a fondness for the music of Zappa and the Velvet Underground couldn’t help but set the band on their eventual de-constructivist path.

Despite the radical elements and postulations, each of the bands members could play rather well and keep it together when it mattered, as evidenced on the live recordings that make up the debut self titled album.

Each of the collectives members were given specific musical tasks, Meifert and Diermaier shared percussive duties, Peron took on bass and some guitar duties, Sosna played piano and wrote some of the arrangements, Irmler sorted out the keyboards and synthesizers and Wusthoff created the multi-layers of sounds and spliced collages.

The three songs that constitute the LP are made up of both soundscapes and reworked stabs at rock music.

Side one is made up of ‘Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?’, which begins with snippets of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles before drowning in a Wurlitzer fairground swirling jamboree, and ‘Meadow Meal’, a Mothers Of Invention and Soft Machine evoking piece of jazz rock that wonders off into the path of an approaching eerie storm.

Side two is handed over to the grand spanning live jam of ‘Miss Fortune’, which again combines elements of ambience amid impromptu barrages of ferocious playing. Conversations float in and out and every piece of background sound is included, whether it’s someone dropping their instrument or a misplaced scream, everything is chucked in regardless of importance.

By the end of 1971 the album was finished and ready to be unleashed on the general public.

Artist friend of the band, Andy Hertel silk screen-printed his own x-rayed clenched fist for the cover. Originally the album came with an inlay featuring the lyrics and Uwe Neetlebeck’s haphazard broken up English and German manifesto, of sorts, all bundled in a see-through plastic sleeve.

Thankfully recent reissues have kept the original format, including the clear vinyl record itself.

Only selling a paltry 1000 copies in its first week, and only shifting 20,000 overall, Polydor weren’t exactly enthralled. The public were slow to pick up on the record, though John Peel gave it a whirl in the UK, and they received favourable comments from some sections of the music press.

To be fair Polydor got what they’d ask for – an resolutely one fingered salute to rock music and convention from a politically charged gang of miscreants, who turned German music on its head if nothing else and went further out on a limb then their peers at the time.

I think the label misconstrued the Faust name, hoping for the German legendary version of Dr. Faustus, who sold his soul for knowledge.

Polydor decided to cut their losses and cast adrift Faust, like Pontius Pilate washing those allegorical nonchalant hands of his, the label now virtually dumped them, deciding that this wasn’t for them after all.

Uwe and friends didn’t really give a fuck and sought to carry on without a label, but Virgin soon came knocking and signed the group up at the drop of a hat, which I will save for my next chapter.

Read on for an in-depth review of the Faust LP below.

Faust – Faust LP (also known as the Clear LP) Review

1971 Polydor Records

Recorded during 1971 at Wumme Studios

Faust’s x-ray specs!

Side 1.

1. Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?     (9:31)

2. Meadow Meal      (8:02)

Side 2.

1. Miss Fortune     (16:35)

Personal –

Werner Diermaier – Drums

Hans- Joachim Irmler – Keyboards, Organ and Synthesizers

Arnulf Meirfert – Drums

Jean- Herve Peron – Bass and Guitar

Rudolf Sosna – Guitar and Keyboards

Gunter Westhoff – Saxophone and Synthesizers

Kurt Grauper – Enhineer

Uwe Nettlebeck – Producer, Concept and Overseer

Artwork – Andy Hertel

Searing pulsating rumblings announce the attentions of Faust from the offset, as oscillating walls of white noise plough their way through your ears and imprint themselves on your brain; an audio head shaking exercise that rattles the mind into submission.

The wry opening lines of both The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love ‘and The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction’ punctuate a split second calm, in the manner of a back-handed compliment or a final break from the past.

These dubious nods to the titans of rock’n’roll are given a strange backwards and forwards tape delay dressing down, before the starkly classical piano opens up.

Soon the fairground waltz motif hook comes shambling along, like a circus band playing along to the soundtrack of some MGM sword and sandal epic, only in a giddy back to front display of the bizarre.

An almost uneasy rhythmic motion is formed when the creeping cheery band of miscreants hit their stride, grinning away through gritted teeth.

‘Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?’ bounces along merrily, winding its way through the deluge of background swirls of sounds, which eventually build towards a minor segue way of more tape tampering and splicing.

Female Gothic enchantresses eulogise gently in the ether, building up an intensifying moment of heavenly distraction, before plummeting straight back down into the mire of the nightmare circus drone.

Trombones and other brass instruments pipe up and blow away like pistons, as Sosna ambles around the melee dropping off achingly opaque guitar riffs through a layer of phasers and cranked up delay.

The lyrics are now delivered over the top of constant drum rolls and melodic sweeps of effects, whilst that cool posturing lead guitar goes to work, ripping up a bending solo.

Proverb like lines of surreal imagery are laid out thus:

‘Slow goes the goose,

You see shoes on your mirror mind.’

Psychedelic tinged sentiments, lost in the ensuing struggle to break with the constraints of convention, instead taking on some beat like poetic stuttering mixed with acidic prose.

Breaking up this rhythm, somewhat is the Forbidden Planet b-movie soundtrack of eerie oscillating alien landscapes, that set us out on the inter-dimensional plain bound for another time.

A light-hearted, laughter prone conversation gently cracks the surface, as all the sounds and melody now evaporate. Two lovers, relaxing in their bed chatter away in German, drifting in and out of consciousness, never entirely leaving but constantly fade back like some kind of reprise.

Finally the same piano from the introduction returns and puts the lids on the song, ending with a triumphant sustained hurrah of ambience.

There is now an intermission of sorts before the beginning tones of ‘Meadow Meal’ are introduced.

It begins with a rummage through some workshop crammed full of wooden machines, that twist and turn as though lifting heavy objects or grind out corn.

That stark piano is back, this time with an accompaniment of rattles and shakers, all building towards a layer of background noise.

Ships horns in the fog reverberations are added to the omnivorous catalogue of sound effects as biting vocals read out the lyrics in protest, hitting out in a purposeful cadence like bullet points, the beat now ringing out in accordance.

The Mothers Of Invention are invited to freak the fuck out to the barrage of hard-edged rock that is now feeling the air. Arching guitars and busy jazz styled bass lines roam free in the manner of the MC5 jamming with Ash Ra Tempal.

The cacophony of improvised loose momentum is met with the onset of an approaching storm, which roars in the not too far away distance. Low thundering rumbles now take over from the music and rain clouds emit their wash over proceedings, but hark on the turbulent bellowing winds comes a ghostly Viennese ballroom-twirling organ.

The track finishes with the dreamy romanticism of that heavenly refrain that swirls around the room before disappearing into the atmosphere.

Side two is entirely reserved for the live recorded ‘Miss Fortune’, which begins with the distant whooshing backward delay approaches on the horizon, meeting on route some barracking marching drums that clash and burst with decadent shimmers.

The guitar comes on all Neu!, and wallows away in a mesmerising drowning sound of effects.

Trumpeting fuzz and elephant sized delay smoother the now experimental jam of Zappa infused grandiose orchestral rock.

Peron investigates his bass guitar in more detail, loosely researching every nook and cranny, and knocking out run downs as though they were going out of fashion.

More Gothic maligned organs interject, briefly adding the ensuing chaos before reaching the inevitable climb down.

Tapping away at a triangle, Meifert beckons in the blessed out break down to the strains of more white noise. The buzzes off switches and incessant feedback now circle around the studio, as the group fidget around in their seats, talking, coughing and preparing to play something.

Glimmering percussion and brushed cymbals once again fill the atmospheric void, before Wildman voices mess around in the background.

Sorrowful wails and woes over delayed drums bring back the chaotic jamming, this time taking in the Soft Machine’s heavy avant-garde jazz leanings.

Everyone is now allowed to implement their own ramshackle solo, or just stick two fingers up to convention and slope off into the background and take a leak or toss in some off hand twiddling.

Another lull interrupts the furore, which starts with some of that classical piano and a chorus of lurking voices, that emerge from the fog. Dizzying effects of exuberance and parody cut-ups of the Big Bopper style honky tonk rock’n’roll are met with a walk into some crypt like abyss of a spooky landscape, one that is filled with whispers and cackling witches of the Macbeth variety.

The terror and abject fear fades away as a silent interruption pushes aside the horror and brings in a solemn Spanish guitar like refrain; ready for the final reading of the written in blood lyrics.

‘Are we supposed to be or not to be,

said the angel to the Queen.

I lift my skirt when Voltaire turns,

as he speaks his mouth full of garlic.

White yes white,

Misfortune of us two.

He told you to be free

and you obeyed.’

Read out in a reverberated fashion, to give the effect of doubling up. The charged words of resentful protest continue: –

‘We have to decide what is important.

A war we never see,

or a street so black that babies die.

A system and theory,

or our wish to be free.

To organize and analyse,

and at the end realise that nobody knows,

if it really happened’.

The debut-opening salvo from Faust is brought to an end.

Choice words of disdain and protest mark the birth of German music’s most unforgiving and uncompromising band.

Faust ‘So Far’

 

Story/ Review

 

Faust taking time out from the revolution to pose.

Before being unceremoniously shown the door by their record label Polydor, Faust was allowed one final roll of the dice before funds completely dried up.
Having already wasted considerable amounts of lucre on their anarchic tumultuous signing, Polydor now agreed to a last ditch attempt to retrieve something from the extraordinary one-sided deal. The commercial failure of the self-titled debut left the group in limbo.
Although they were much praised for their apparent political stance and uncompromising sound, which gate crashed its way onto the rock scene with vigour, they failed to sell any significant units.
Faust returned to the Wumme commune to produce a follow up album under a certain amount of duress and pressure in 1972.
Instigator Uwe Nettlebeck and the band decided to carry on the counter-revolutionary doctrine, but in a more structured and directed manner, which resulted in a 9-track set of references and distaste towards the German establishment – taking in various tracts of situationist philosophy along the way.

Recordings alongside the Wumme River, in their converted schoolhouse drop-in centre, had produced copious amounts of material that had not made it onto the first LP. Using some of this, along with a new set of experimental jams and an abundance of thrashed out ideas, the basis of their second album – ‘So Far’, was now in place.
The sheer volume and abundance of music that was left over or was never followed up, eventually became bundled together and released the following year as ‘The Faust Tapes’ – much in the same way as CAN’s ‘Limited Edition’ compilation was made up of cutting room floor material and half-forgotten snippets of sound collages.
Living the monastic self-imposed life style, with no TV, Radio or communications to the outside world, they group knuckled down to a productive year of recording.
‘So Far’ would begin with a well intentioned calling card opening, the incessant thumping ‘It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl’ would announce to society that they meant business, whereas the 10 minute krautrocking epic ‘No Harm’ would sweat out a hardcore dose of unruly nihilism.
There would also be the odd soundscape segue way, such as the avant-garde vignette ‘Picnic On A Frozen River’. This album would contain many more dramatic twists and turns then the previous record, taking in ever shifting moods and absorbing all kinds of musical styles and sounds including Tudor sonnets, brass band ensembles, Soft Machine jazz and kooky child like TV soundtracks.
Surprisingly there are some tranquil moments of both diaphanous and effulgence beauty to be found amongst the heavy forceful drums, especially on ‘The Way To Abame’ and in the middle section of ‘I’ve Got My Car And My TV’.
In fact this could be their finest album, their finest hour, perfectly encapsulating all the main ingredients of the so-called Krautrock formula – I myself dislike the moniker but Peron looks on it with wry indignation and whether we like it or not the term has become an official label of musical ethnography.

During this period a revolving door of musicians dropped in and tuned out, including Peter Blegvad, who had now set up permanent residency at Faust HQ.
American Blegvad along with his musical partners and founding members Dagner Krause and Anthony Moore, he had formed the band Slapp Happy during that very year in Hamburg and signed to Polydor. They heard the calling of Faust and sort them out to help them on their next two albums. Using a few members of the group in a house band sort of set-up, they recorded the similar sounding titled ‘Sort Of’ during 1972. This joint effort leaned towards more song-based material with Krause providing unique vocals.
A second self-titled album – also known as ‘Acnalbasac Noom’, an anagram of  ‘Casablanca Moon’ – was released the following year.
The first album did badly, with the label refusing to even release the next, calling on the band to produce more pop sounding material, preferably staying away from Faust at the same time.
Slapp Happy would leave the label during 1973 and sign a deal with Virgin and re-record the last LP, before merging with the Cambridge band Henry Cow.

Also popping in was the American filmmaker, musician and all round underground avant-garde personality, Tony Conrad. Best known for his epileptic inducing 1966 short film ‘Flicker’, he had also been a member of The Theatre Of Eternal Music – better known as the Dream Syndicate. Along with fellow musicians John Cale and La Monte Young, Tony contributed his fine viola playing to the collective’s brand of experimental droning chamber music, which at times swayed towards to the nauseating.
He also could have been the man responsible for the naming of Cale’s day-job group – The Velvet Underground. Apparently, so the tale goes, Cale and Lou Reed moved into Tony’s former apartment in New York, where they found a copy of the synonymous sexual journey through the closed bedrooms of America and seedier backrooms accounts paperback, lying around. The rest is we all know.
A fellow filmmaker friend of Tony’s put him in touch with Uwe through a meeting in Hamburg. Deciding he liked what he heard, plans were made to record an album using Faust as backing.
‘Outside The Dream Syndicate’ consisted of two lengthy violin directed musical suites, though the backing almost drowns out the frail, drifting lead.
A successful project that was released in 1973, this record is considered his best, Cope lists it in his top 50 Krautrock albums, though it takes an acquired taste to appreciate.
Wumme now became a studio in its own right as more and more groups entered the inner sanctum to record there – not all of them using Faust mind.

‘So Far’ was delivered in a pure Uwe conceptual artistic statement, with a pitch-black cover, the title merely embossed along the top.
Enclosed inside the pull out sleeve was an illustrated booklet, designed by Edda Kochl.
Each track was represented by a surreal/dada unique semi-collaged and sketched image, corresponding in kind to the songs content or lyrics. For instance the title track ‘So Far’ has a women joyfully running across a sunny Swiss alpine landscape, holding her hands out to catch what appears to be a rather enlarged cabbage with sprouting angels wings.
‘It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl’ is represented in monochrome sepia rendered image of two 50’s beach belles caught in the swell of some art deco styled sea. One of the cuties poses in a mock defenceless posture, seductively placing a manicured painted pinky towards her alluring lush lips, waiting to be rescued by some strapping lifeguard.
On closer inspection their eyes look rather cold and artificial, showing a complete indifference to the events unfolding, like in a hypnotised state.
The back of the booklet is where you will find all the lyrics, which are again displayed in an almost unbroken torrent of resigned postulations and disdain, with a few positive lines of once more jumping over the barricades and breaching the fortifications of the man.

Released to the UK audience first, Polydor changed tact, hoping to build on the loyal but small following there after the release of the debut LP.
John Peel had given the group some kudos; though as he admits this was more down to the cool cover artwork rather then the music.
To tempt deejays, the label made a shorter cut version of the title track – ‘So Far’ – in a 7in ‘popier’ format.
Unfortunately a change in personnel at the top of Polydor, saw a fiercer set of individuals now making all the decisions, Faust were firmly in their sights.
Hating the album, they told the guys in finger wagging gestures that the next album would be a more commercial enterprise or they were out on their ears.
Faust being Faust knew this would only result in one conclusive outcome – they were out.
No compromises, no surrender! Goodbye Polydor, here’s a one-fingered final one-figure salute for old times sake.

It wasn’t long before the band were picked up by the newly formed Virgin record label, in fact they would be the first official signing to this previously rather green mail order business.
They would release the infamous ‘The Faust Tapes’ in 1973 and bring the band over to the UK to play a string of dates, though more of this new partnership and album in the next chapter.

Review –Faust ‘So Far’  1972 Polydor Records

Recorded at Wumme in 1972

The black album, with just a hint of white.

Side 1.

1. It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl     (7:21)

2. On The Way To Abamäe     (2:42)

3. No Harm      (10:09)

Side 2.

1. So Far     (6:20)

2. Mamie Is Blue     (5:55)

3. I’ve Got My Car And My TV     (3:42)

4. Picnic On A Frozen River     (0:36)

5. Me Lack Space…     (0:40)

6. …In The Spirit     (2:59)

Personnel:-


Weiner ‘Zappi’ Diermaier – Drums
Hans- Joachim Irmler – Organ
Arnulf Meifert – Drums
Jean-Hervé Péron – Bass
Rudolf Sosna – Guitar and synth
Gunter Wüsthoff – Sax and synth

Uwe Nettlebeck – Artwork, concept and producer
Kurt Graupner – Engineer
Edda Kochl – Artwork

‘It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl’ opens with Zappi beating down on the trapdoor into Hades, all bare barrel-chested like a side show strongman, as he attempts to cut a new opening into hell itself – throttling any unspeakable spirits who happen to be off-guard and passing through.
Incessant thudding on the bass drum and toms, conjure up images of a builder in steel toecaps kicking a wooden pallet and oil drum into submission.
This tribal charging carnage emanates a certain looming resonance that slowly draws you into the intense barrage, before the starkly iridescent piano emerges to break up the monotony, playing the main refrain.
Then the repetitive vocals of ‘It’s a rainy day, sunshine baby, it’s a rainy day sunshine girl’ come flowing in, sung with the merest hint of soulful doo-wop, with a resounding ‘huh- hmm’ at the end of each chorus. The only deviations being that the lyrics are swapped around every now and then.
A caustic, gritty riffage ploughs in on a rusty stringed beat-up guitar, weeping from neglect and howling from the unspeakable acts performed upon its person, this accompanying rhythmic assault takes its frustration out on the audience.
Soon windy atmospherics and melodic sweeps of reverberating wispy tones seep over the proceedings, placing us on some unsettling scene amongst the moors.
It’s not all doom though, there are brighter notes scattered around the last third of the track, and a harmonica blows away on a dusty Statesville boarder highway, invoking some romanticised road trip.
Wüsthoff pips and squeaks away on a great saxophone solo, fitting in a hurried appreciative last furore before the track is drawn to a conclusive end.

‘On The Way To Abamäe’, wherever that may be, settles the mood down, acting as some kind of buffer to those all-out krautrock explosions.
Church organs bring us a late medieval period sonnet, in the style of The Velvet Undergrounds performing some of their acoustic morbid numbers in the court of Henry V, or maybe at the bequest of Elizabeth I.
Delicate whimsical strung backing and twee flourishes defiantly tie this to the territory of some costume drama with our balled troubadours gently plucking away on museum piece instruments.
The last sorrowful woes tuck on the old heartstrings, before mournfully fading out to a long dramatic fade out.
Exquisitely managed and full of room to breathe, this short segue way is a welcoming surprise from the heavily industrial barracking of the last track, encouraging us to drift off into a dreamt up historical narrative that never existed.

The sound of a brass ensemble wishes in the next track ‘No Harm’, sounding like a former northern English mining town’s trade union band, now packed off the Hamburg countryside, this warmly wrapped in glowing solidarity introduction further tugs at the emotive.
Softly whacked rolling toms and bass drum merrily go about their business, whilst the percussion department is allowed to work their way through the full range of twinkly sounding instruments, including a resonating triangle.
Moving around in the manner of a sedate overture, the brass section heads towards a final flourishing climax, ending on a seagull piercing pulsating anguished effect – something pulled out of Graupner’s magical black box no doubt.
This leads into a more purposeful tense drum break of hi-hat and snare before the next section of the song begins.
A meaty jam of ratcheted up rhythms and chuggering guitar, along with Zappi’s shimmering cymbals evolve into the actual song.
Pained lunatic vocals shout out the lines ‘Daddy take a banana, tomorrow is Sunday’ in ever more hysterical outbursts as sheer abandon is let loose, with insane riffs pressing down even harder on the clapt out guitar.
Péron roams the scene, ambling around trapped in some kind of jazz odyssey, with countless run-downs and octave juggling antics.
This begins to sound like some US west coast over-exuberant avant-garde improvisation, performed by sex-crazed maniacs intent on murder – the sound of psychosis.
The last wondrous psyched and panicked feverish riffing ends after nearly 11 minutes on a freak-out primal scream, so ending side one, and giving us a chance to recover before flipping over.

Vibrating backward strings – tangled up in the coils and springs of some over-sized clocks inner workings- dangle and catapult themselves forward by way of an introduction to the albums title track ‘So Far’.
Soon a lumpy rock number emerges from the mess and sets about beating a clear pathway through the melee.
Ever present background tweets and passing mechanical machines are met with ghost train howls that wash over the now burgeoning main meaty theme.
Those slight off-kilter timed drums hypnotise and convince you something sounds odd about them, which could be that they are playing a different time signature to the rest of the group.
Fun house effects continue with abandon, until the pace begins to dampen down and heavy catatonic drums fade in the next track.

‘Maime Is Blue’ moodily and morosely enters the fray on a set of pulsing shifting effects, accompanied by those already mentioned catatonic drums that are dripped in reverb and tight delay.
Péron stalks the track like a predator on the hunt, poking and probing with that scary bass guitar of his, waiting to strike out at any moment amongst the impending doom and general disintegrating cacophony.
Creepy vocals are delivered in a cold methodical manner, uttering nonsense lyrics over nauseating effects and squalling charges of static, whilst almost over boiling tanks of unidentifiable gasses threaten to explode. Faust certainly goes to town on this track.

Cheery and kooky, ‘I’ve Got My Car And My TV’ comes on like the theme tune to some children’s programme – reminding me of Grange Hill of all things.
An Alice In Wonderland impending rendition of ‘Greensleeves’ soon interrupts the mischievous introductory, and a chorus of adolescent comical nursery rhyme vocals are delivered in a undercurrent of satanic menace, the lyrics unfolding thus-

‘Yesterday noon at tea time,
We held three hands close to the other side.
Suddenly there was a red cloud,
A finger came out and said,
Those guys are right’.

The whole innocent charade is blown open for what it truly is – a séance.
There is now a frenzied gypsy wedding band tempo change, with swamp rock guitars and tightened drumming, moving at a chased pace.
More experimental steeped Zappa outpourings unfold, as Faust goof around with some ceremonial marches and occasional trumpeting feats of bravado before bringing the curtains down on their performance.

The first of those sound collage excerpts now breaks up the album.
‘Picnic On A Frozen River’ is only a brief 36 second long intermission, which passes through almost unnoticed.
An opening sustained gesture on the grand piano is followed by the odd sounds of hoots, woodwind and brass, which move from speaker to speaker, fading in and out.
This would act as pre-cursor to the infamous ‘The Faust Tapes’.
Following this is the second assemblage piece of ‘Me Lack Space’, which sounds like the band are pulling then tightening the strings of some unfortunate violin.
This chaotic pulling apart goes on whilst a strangled phonetic pronounced voice reads out the lines of some deconstructive poetic manifesto.

‘In The Spirit’ closes this album on a more uplifting note, taking in parts of the overall theme, and bidding a fond farewell.
Radio tweaking is phased out as a lone guitar sets the tune off in a rather resigned manner, taking in some vaudeville group show tunes before the guys sing in unison some allegorical lines about tieing up your shoes and letting go of the past.
Sounding like the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band and Soft Machine taking requests, this cheerful quirky composition only lingers around for a brief couple of minutes.
The swansong of Faust ends ‘So Far’ on a high, a pity that Polydor didn’t appreciate such a seminal album.

‘The Faust Tapes’

Virgin records began life in 1972, the brainchild of Richard Branson, Nik Powell and Simon Dapper, whose humble beginnings began with a shop in Notting Hill gate and a backroom mail order business – known as Virgin Records and Tapes.
The company name reflected their in-experience and self-confessed, but enthusiastic, naivety towards business.
Starting out at first to sell other labels material and to unearth those hard to get your hands on underground releases, these three rather green long-haired upstarts, quickly transgressed to setting up a label of their own within a year of starting.
Specialising in import records especially, Virgin relied upon a dedicated customer base of like-minded heads, who would inform them of what was currently worth checking out, which included them turning the trio of entrepreneurs onto the burgeoning Krautrock scene of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Requests began to roll in for obscure German bands, so many in fact, that Drapper contacted the infamous Ohr label, putting in an order for the more hip-happening groups of the moment.
Soon a rich bundle of over thirty titles arrived on Drapper’s desk, comprising mostly of ‘Utter rubbish’ – Drapper’s words – and a few highlights, which included Tangerine Dream and Faust.
Already Virgin had made an early play for the proto-spiritual ambient pionner Mike Oldfield, whose ‘Tubular Bells’ would become the first official release on the label, they now made intentions to two of their recent Deutschland finds.

Uwe Nettlebeck and his band of crazed, freewheeling insurgents had finally over-stayed their welcome with Polydor, testing the patience of the boardroom just a little too far.
The last album, ‘So Far’, failed to toe the party line and become more commercially viable, continuing instead to follow there own agenda, the band hurried along an uncompromising avant-garde pathway of revolutionary deconstructive music. A move that drew much celebrated reactionary pats on the back, but did little to shift copies of their albums.
Cast adrift, Faust now welcomed the attention of Virgin, deciding to sign a deal, though Uwe had no intention of making life easy for them, insisting that the first release must be sold for free to the public.
Uwe then handed over a collection of cutting room floor ideas and musical experiment excerpts, left over from the previous albums recording sessions, giving the content away to Virgin for a nominal fee of zero.
This set of 26 unique snippets, sound collages and cutaways, would be bundled together and be titled ‘The Faust Tapes’, and end up being priced at the reduced token rate of 49p – at the time the price of a single – to cover expenses. Virgin to this day insists they never lost any money on the deal.
From the mere glancing explorations in piano, drums and voices to encouraging moments of startling produced promising songs, chaos reigns down, with pitched intergalactic warfare breaking out amongst the spillage from some industrial accident, to make this bundle of tracks far from boring or uninspired.
God only knows what the public would make of this LP, with its Bridget Riley Op-Art black and white cover and reputation scar-mongering press clippings on the back, to the missing track list and controversial price tag.
Well the first week of release alone, they shifted 50,000 copies, doubling sales not soon after and putting the band in the charts – for the first and only time – at number 12, though they would be removed on the grounds of the cover price.
The heads and public seemed to go into a sort of feeding frenzy, buying into this relatively unheard of act from the fatherland, as if it was a competition. A large number of people hated the record, once they actually got it home, as a consequence the follow up record a at the end of the year, ‘Faust IV’, sold quite poorly in comparison.
Branson, carried away in the initial overnight success, was convinced that they’d created a new ingenuous business model, with which to break new bands – he would quite quickly rethink that strategy.

‘The Faust Tapes’ were an enigma, with small mystifying scraps of info and those untitled vignettes; the album became something of a cult.
John Peel added to the aloof campaign that went with the record, by announcing a list of mock titles for the as yet unnamed tracks, stirring up the listeners in anticipation to quickly grab a pen, as he would only read them out once. As it turned out, old Peely was in on the act, swindling many fans including Julian Cope with a disdained gesture of ridicule.

Virgin decided to back up the over-whelming success of the 1973 album, by bringing the guys over for their first ever UK tour.
Fair enough you might think, only Uwe and co. had other plans, like throwing some turbulent spanners into the faces of the label.
The bands Hans-Joachim Irmler and Rudolf Sosna refused point blank to embark on the tour, unless a ridiculous advance sum of £500,000 was paid – half exuberant and half antagonistic, fully encouraged by Uwe.
A now apparent rift formed within the ranks, leading to Werner Diermaier, Jean- Hearvé Péron and Gunter Wüsthoff and a hastily recruited Peter Blegvad, of Slapp Happy, to fulfil the live dates.
In true rebellious style, Uwe conceived a sort of auto-destructive performance, with pneumatic drills, TV’s and a cement mixer acting as props, waiting to be interacted with or smashed to smithereens.
If anyone in the band got bored, they could take a rest and play on the handy pinball machine, which would also deck the stage.
All this was of course meant to test the audience’s patience of course, on top of the proceeding ear splitting, innards dislodging hailstorm of sound that would leave them feeling sick.
Borrowing a PA from none other then the world’s one time loudest band The Who, Faust upped the ante and went one louder, channelling the most insane industrial gut wrenching music through their engineer, Kurt Graupner’s, satanic black box of tricks, whilst chewing up the stage with the many building site strewn tools.
This resulted in an often gob-smacked audience reacting in disbelief at the musical equivalent of having a bucket of pig shit poured over their heads.
Even Blegvad remarked that it was the worst music he’d ever heard, and that it induced in him countless bouts of nose bleeding, leaving him with feelings of misery and nausea – and that’s one of their friends!
He went on to describe witnessing one over-enthusiastic young man head butting the stage floor in unison to the bass drums incessant pounding, the resulting streaming blood worn like a badge of honour.
Despite all this, their fans were quite forgiving and sympathetic to the cause, even happily lapping up the handed out manifestos of intent, though usually in that typical pleasant English manner of ours, which never really leads to acting on our convictions.

After the uproarious set of concerts, Faust were scheduled in to record their fourth album, Virgin insisting on them recording in England at their very own choice studio, the Manor House in Oxfordshire.
Uwe objected at first but backed down, his band of misfits agreeing under certain duress.
Irmler and Sosna must have agreed to set aside their demands, as they both appear on the record.
‘Faust IV’ would be their third album proper and cause many upsets, tantrums and even lead to arrests – don’t worry I’m saving this till the next chapter for you.

‘The Faust Tapes’ finally gained a track list when transferred to CD, which basically rectifies to a certain extent, what is actually taking place on each piece of sound or music.
Some tracks have French or German titles, such as ‘J’ai Mal Aux Dents’, which translates as I have toothache, or ‘Der Baum’, which means the tree.
Most remain untitled still or are referred to as exercises with maybe a bracketed explanation for a guide.

Continued below, you will find the full listings and an in-depth track-by-track commentary review of what it actually sounds like.

Review — Faust ‘The Faust Tapes’
Virgin 1973



Op art on display, rather timed compared to the actual music.

Recorded at Wumme during 1972/73

ORIGINAL TRACK LISTING

Side 1

Untitled     (22:37)

Side 2
Untitled     (20:49)

SUBSEQUENT LISTING FOR LATER RELEASES

Side 1

1. Exercise — With several hands on a piano     (0:52)
2. Exercise — With voices, drums and sax     (0:21)
3. Flashback Caruso     (4:01)
4. Exercise — With voices     (1:48)
5. J’ai Mal Aux Dents — I have toothache     (7:14)
6. Untitled     (1:03)
7. Untitled — Arnulf and Zappi on drums     (1:42)
8. Dr.Schwitters — Intro     (0:25)
9. Exercise — Continues track 1     (1:11)
10. Untitled     (1:18)
11. Untitled     (0:50)
12. Dr.Schwitters — Snippet     (0:49)
13. Untitled — Arnulf on drums     (1:03)

Side 2

1. Untitled — Arnulf on drums     (0:47)
2. Untitled — All on saxes     (4:33)
3. Untitled      (2:18)
4. Untitled — Rudolf     (0:34)
5. Untitled — Rudolf     (0:51)
6. Untitled — Rudolf     (1:15)
7. Untitled      (2:28)
8. Untitled      (0:20)
9. Untitled      (1:13)
10. Untitled     (0:59)
11. Stretch Out Time     (1:35)
12. Der Braum — The tree     (3:49)
13. Chère Chambre — Dear Room     (3:07)

PERSONNEL

Werner ‘Zippi’ Diermaier — Drums
Hans – Joachim Irmler — Organ
Arnulf Meirfert — Drums
Jean – Hervé Péron — Bass
Rudolf Sosna — Guitar and keyboards
Gunter Wüsthoff – Saxophone and synth

Uwe Nettlebeck — Cover conception, instigator and producer
Kurt Graupner — Engineer
Artwork — Bridget Riley ‘Crest’ painting

Out of the eerie discourse of enigmatic sounding disturbances, fades into view a rumbling low bass and ivory tinkling cramped run down, as various sets of hands feel up the grand piano for a thrill.
The rumble turns into a drone over this short rift, like a squadron of B52’s flying overhead on their way to some unfortunate target.
Our first exercise is over in under a minute, interrupted by the next, a call and response loop that features some garbled compressed drums and saxophone gargles.
Sharp intersected snippets of screeching car brakes are dispersed throughout the track, as someone blares out an illegible cuckoo taunt in a fraught hysteria fashion.

‘Flashback Caruso’ gently flows in with some embracing wistful acoustic guitar picking and delicate artful strumming, in the manner of an English psychedelic folk number, with wry token impressions of a Germanic Syd Barrett, who sings of marshmallow sandwiches and Lewis Carroll garden parties.
A leftover from the late 60’s, this delightful foray even has the vocals bounce from speaker to speaker, as gentle waves of beautiful percussion and piano head towards la la land – the first highlight of the album.

Next up is a return back to the exercise labelling, with an otherworldly effects driven voices segue way.
Elephant like trumpeting and disturbed bellowing is dripped in reverb, delay and echo to create an unsightly incident in the middle of a Marrakech bazaar, before swiftly leaving the scene and stumbling into the next track.
‘J’ai Mal Aux Dents’, that’s I have toothache, shambles in falling over a mix of proto-punk and staccato Stooges, conducted by a jittery guitar, whose erratic rhythmic workout is attacked by various thrown in sound effects and a rather obtuse saxophone.
Disregard for conventional grooving gets under way as the song moves into uncharted territory, though it awkwardly has all the appearance of Them’s ‘Gloria’ being played by Devo or Dr. Feelgood met with a torrent of situationist sloganeering.
Moving on, we eavesdrop onto an atmospheric recording of the band going about their daily routine washing up, stacking bottles, listening to the radio and continuously stomping up and down a never-ending flight of wooden stairs. An answer machine unravels its un-translated message, which could imply something serious or banal.

Funky zip zapping break beat drumming announces the intro of ‘Arnulf and Zappi on drums’, an explosion of Silver Apples, UFO’s and hurried phasered sounds that interject over the glorious rhythms.
Péron knocks up a soul shaking krautrock bass riff to get this party truly off the ground.

‘Dr. Schwitters’ whips up a mesmerising diagnosis of baroque electro synths, holy sounding melodies and futuristic brain food on this far too short and promising exquisite burst of ethereal bewitchment. The good doctor of the title certainly knows his pills, liberally dishing out some kaleidoscope inducing mind benders for this track.
Soon we are thrust into the melancholy, as the next vignette has dark moody shifting mangled soundscapes to chew on, ones that suffocate the listener in their grip.
The further couple of excerpts also stray towards the shadows, comprising of short uncomfortable bursts of trappist monks solemnly groaning or delayed soaked chainsaws from space, cutting through an incessant tribal esoteric led drum barrage. All the while choral accompaniments float in the background, sending the willies right up you, with their stirring macabre spooky wallowing.
Our good doctor returns to duty with another charmed moment of grooving, though it doesn’t have any of the same identifying themes of its counterpart, this quick shot of falling apart drums and whirling dreamy organs sure taste good though.
Side one finishes on a de-tuned untitled cacophony of cosmic slop, as chaotic forward rolling drums and alarming synthesizer currents of sparks bash away together in the primordial soup.

Side two opens with more untitled bouts of fun and trickery, as phasers, delay and echo conjugate round a shifting space age theme, before jumping head long into a menagerie of saxophones squeaking away in confused unison.
These haunting animalistic sirens of sax sound like Sun Ra on a real downer, as they wallow away like a herd of brass wildebeest drifting across the Serengeti in pained expressions of woe.
Storms now gather overhead on our next stop, with curious metallic sounding strings, wrestled through a speed shifter grinder and taken on some oriental styled esoteric nightmare. A last departing gesture of Gothic evoking piano leaves its mark on this occult oddball.

Those low humming aeroplane drones are back on Sosna’s little suite of keyboard and guitar excursions; he is given a trio of tracks to bewilder the listener with.
Firstly he builds up a Dune evocative sweeping veranda of humming bass and oscillating spirits, then lets loose on a promising piano score, played with alluring and poised composure, before ending on drip-dropping dabs of ghostly cosmic effects.
These droplets work towards a rhythm and are accompanied by more over-head bombing raids and reverberating nonsense.

An old world calls from the mists on the following bundle of non-titled tracks, as an atmospheric caustic blowing soundscape is built up for a wandering set of drums and unobtrusive xylophone.
This is dragged into an attention-starved moment of up-tempo tumbling rhythms, menaced with an onset of gongs, drills, rattles, scaffold tubes, which are processed through heavy reverb.
Then a twitchy guitar is let loose, pinging around and fiddling while the background burns away.
Some light percussion and piano quietly go about their business, neither adding nor taking anything away from this aimless ditty.

We’re now into the final few furlongs, which are all more conventionally song based, though that’s a slight misleading description, as they’re anything but conventional.
‘Stretch Out Time’ starts with jangled guitars, bass and tambourine and Zappi’s cardboard box/tin pots sounding drum kit.
The vocals ape the title and offer such poignant romantic reflections as –

‘Stretch out time, dive into my mind and sign,
Get answer and hold dime,
But not into the coco smile.
Love is really so,
Love is really true.’

Faust attempt to be loved by the listener.

‘Der Baum’, that’s the tree to me and you my English speaking chums, is a lo-fi affair, which constantly stop/starts over its duration.
Tight delay on the drums and emphasised cymbal shimmers, go all proto ‘Jennifer’ on this warmly felt ode.
A descriptive analogy to the environment is used to express some memories of a failed love affair –

‘See her sitting on her chair,
When she stops kissing I know she won’t care.
He opened the door, turned on the light,
And it hurt my eyes.’

They continue with a final regretful, but touching verse of –

‘Feeling like a tree today,
And it’s a nice feeling, yeah.
The wind has come now,
So the leaves, they’re gone,
Because the wind has come.
See her lying in her bed,
Must be a nice feeling for her head.’

The final song ‘Chère Chambre’ translates as dear room, though the colourful narrated French/German prose gives few types of glue as to whether the vocalist is spewing forth his thoughts from a lonely room, dictating an abundance of ideas to his secretly or reading aloud from a dear John letter.
Thankfully I found a transcribed translation that seems to describe a free-flowing uninterrupted spewing of motorway journeys, emotional wellbeing, questions and state of mind, all told in a story telling like rendition.
A twee folksy guitar plays all the way through in an affable manner, whilst the narrator switches languages and continues to eloquently lay down genial tones.

‘The Faust Tapes’ act as a jump-off point for the next album, with startling insights and textural ideas it draws obvious comparisons to CAN’s ‘Limited Edition’ LP, which likewise dips into the psyche of the band, digging up promising snatches of pure gold.
It differs from the Faust studio albums, which tend to follow a particular theme through to a conclusion, whereas this album hops quite erratically from one idea to the next.
Generally an impressive futuristic and de-constructive collection of tracks, with touches of pulchritude and effulgent wonder that further enhances the reputation of Faust as trailblazing counter culture visionary misfits.

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