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Pitchfork Media, 11 May 2004
True experimentalists never die, they just alienate all their friends by refusing to settle into a comfortable rut. German legends Faust, represented on this collaboration with New Jersey hip-hop mavericks Dälek as Werner 'Zappi' Diermaier, Hans Joachim Irmler, Steven W. Lobdel, Lars Paukstatt and Michael Stoll, have fashioned a pretty unbelievable catalog of tunes from a stubborn insistence on constant movement. Granted, they haven't always moved at the same breathless pace they did in the early 70s, but like their krautrocking peers in Can, Faust have proved to be among the most reliably forward-thinking musicians of their generation.
Small surprise, then, to hear their glorious, droned-out take on hip-hop with Dälek. Derbe Respect, Alder (or 'crude respect, elder') hardly sounds like any hip-hop I've heard; more like a druggy, clamorous collage of industrial noise and feedback, with a stray loop every now and then. Rather than simply using Faust as their backing band, the trio of Dälek (Will Brooks), producer Oktopus (Alap Momin) and turntablist Still (Hsi-Chang Linaka) attack fragments and panic-ridden, acid-damaged jams as raw source material, and opt to spout Last Poets-style free form verse over the more unhinged moments. And like The Last Poets, Dälek's agenda seems politically charged, as titles like Bullets Need Violence indicate. Still, pure sound rules this collaboration, and they produce an intimidating, blunt jab indeed.
Most of the music on Derbe Respect, Alder was recorded in 2002 and 2003 by Faust, then manipulated by Dälek-- though the final (listed) track T-Electronique was taken from Faust's 1999 album Ravvivando. I had first heard the track on the last Wire Tapper compilation, and it is, by some measure, the most straightforward piece on the album. Its bass-heavy, loping drum loop flails like cold, machine-generated funk, but the heavenly organ clusters overhead are pristine and sweet, and could only have come from Germany. Brooks references "filthy tongues slowly severed" and "the constant threat that we easily forget," and aligns himself perfectly with the claustrophobic paranoia of the track. This version of T-Electronique should be a godsend to anyone into hypnotic drone-funk.
Imagine What We Started begins the album with cold wind and deep, unidentifiable bass tones, like stepping into an endless underground tunnel and realizing all the fleeting noises behind and above aren't just products of your ketamine buzz. When the drums hit, all hell breaks loose: Oktopus and Still drench the loop with delay so that Diermaier's drums sound like the work of three men hammering out polyrhythms best suited for inducing motion sickness and hearing loss, yet it's fascinating in its disorientating force (which is one way to describe my feeling for the album in general). Hungry for Now introduces Brooks' voice for the first time on the album, warning, "If I have not met your expectations, try to conceive my frustrations with an earthly tongue," over ever-offcenter drum/bass vamping from Diermaier and Stoll, while Lobdell's guitar stains all available space with guitar drone and feedback approaching white noise. See also the second half of Dead Lies and grotesque motorik of Collected Twighlight for more apocalyptic dream-shriek.
Derbe Respect, Alder is a tough record to size up: On one hand, its middle third can get so dense, so unrelentingly bleak that it takes a particularly receptive thrillseeker to make it through unscathed; on the other, its best moments (for example, the first and last tracks, not counting the brief hidden track) are some of the best music I've heard this year, and their payoffs are reason enough to let the undertow swallow you whole. Regardless, Faust and Dälek demonstrate the capabilities of potent, creative minds and insistent forging ahead of born experimentalists. If that means a few people are left behind, all the better to take in the hardcore bliss on your own.Dominique Leone, " ", Pitchfork Media 2004