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Faust vs. Dälek: Krautrock Meets Hip Hop
Tangents, May 2004
It would be difficult to predict the outcome of a collaboration between two such disparate musical outfits as these. I mean hip-hop and krautrock, or whatever category Faust's music falls into these days, don't suggest themselves immediately as likely partners. Or perhaps that's just my perception. Whatever preconceptions I may have had the resultant recording has blown them away, this really is a natural sounding and productive union.
In any case collaborations have been a predominant feature of Faust releases for a while. We've had the soundtrack to Murnau's silent Nosferatu, the Ravvivando remixes and live work with Ingo Vauk. Whilst I never really thought the live venture with film worked well at least the music it spawned sounded astonishing. So some collaborations are more successful than others. Now this meeting of our 'elder' German noisemeisters with a New York hip-hop trio is an indication that Faust remain open to fruitful collisions wherever they may occur.
It is often difficult to say who is producing what sound on Faust releases and since Dälek also make use of loops, samples and savagery it is even more difficult to know who is doing what. Of course this is indicative of how well the two units blend. The opening track is a suitable example with sheets of metallic sound emanating from who knows where - Irmler's keyboards, Dälek's samples ? It doesn't matter of course. Then Zappi Diermaier's trademark explosive drumming grafts a rhythmic spine onto the piece and faint, ethereal organ makes a brief entrance. All recognisable ingredients of the Faust sound. But what about Dälek's contribution ?
A facet that has largely been missing since Faust reconvened, and since Jean-Hervé Péron left, is a voice, apart from Zappi Diermaier's sporadic Teutonic harangues, that is. What Dälek bring maybe more than anything else is a voice that matches the brutal alienation of much of the music.
Will Brooks' lyrics are well to the fore on Hungry For Now as he lashes out over the fierce drumming and electronic undercurrents. Somewhere in the depths of the track Michael Stoll's bass grinds and judders propelling the music forward. Brooks' voice takes on a more disembodied state on Remnants whispering against the grainy, forbidding landscape. Again, this has all the hallmarks of Faust but the vocals introduce a further dimension, an eerie, disconsolate one.
Organ and drums simmer at the start of Dead Lies, assailed by desiccated sound storms and the growl of Steven Lobdell's monstrous guitar. This is pure Faust once more but when the disturbed vocals tear into the maelstrom they are in no way out of place. This is perhaps the best fusion of the two bands and is especially effective when Brooks' voice clashes with Lobdell's playing.
Bullets Need Violence is another metallic foray from the percussive arsenal with Stroll's bass as undertow but it also gives more space to the words and the bleak discomforting soundscape merges exactly with what is being said. In this unrelenting harshness Faust's industrial noise is the ideal companion to the lyrics. These words are also foregrounded on Collected Twilight a version of the single they released as a taster. The Zappi/Stoll drum'n'bass grounds the whole thing while unidentified electronic noise flies around it.
This is the sound I have come to identify as Faust and its presence cannot help but dominate the recording. Those slabs of industrial destruction in tandem with Zappi's titanic percussive attack are prevalent on this track and elsewhere, like the start of T-electronique revisited again from Ravvivando and the Freispiel remixes. This time, with Brooks' words slightly submerged in the vortex, the sound harbours greater menace than ever. Even Irmler's organ sounds more threatening than usual.
This meeting of two diverse cultures has proved that they can co-exist dynamically and produce something that is compelling and truly creative, each enhancing the other. No mean feat.Paul Donnelly, " ", Tangents 2004