1971: Faust: Clear

Some cover images were provided by Olivier Coiffard.


1971LPPolydorPolydor 2310 142
The original release. The fist on the cover is that of a friend of the group's, Andy Hertel
197?LPRecommendedRR one
197?CDRecommendedReR F6
1979LPRecommendedRR 1
24 bit remaster. Comes in a transparent vinyl sleeve, with transparent vinyl sleeve insert.


Released: 1971
Recorded: Wümme, 1970-1971
Werner DiermaierDrumsaka. Zappi
Engineer: Kurt Graupner
Hans-Joachim IrmlerOrgan
Arnulf MeifertDrums
Producer: Uwe Nettelbeck
Jean-Hervé PéronBass
Rudolf SosnaGuitar and Keyboards
Gunter WüsthoffSynthesiser and Sax


click to play...Why Don't You Eat Carrots?9.31
click to play...Meadow Meal8.02
*Miss Fortune **16.35




Why Don't You Eat Carrots?

I can't get no satisfaction
all you need is love

slow goes the goose
you see me shoes in your mirror mind
quick goes the trick
I ask your sick sailing sailors blind
I travel into the tongue
ready to drop   ding dong is handsome top 
(Faust / all)findest du das angenehm ? 
(Arnulf) zum überleben reicht das schon
(Faust) du hast dich auch verändert in den letzten Jahren!
(Arnulf) findest du ? 
(Faust) warum bloss? warscheinlich...nae...aber...warum isst du
(Faust) dann nicht Mohrrueben? 
(Arnulf) ja, das waere wirklich schön
(Faust) wollen wir das machen? 
(Arnulf) ja 
(Faust) willst du runter steigen ?
(Faust / all)do you find that pleasant?
(Arnulf) it's enough to survive
(Faust) you've changed in the past few years, too!
(Arnulf) you think so?
(Faust) why then? probably...well...
(Faust) but...why don't you eat carrots?
(Arnulf) yes, that'd be really nice
(Faust) shall we do it?
(Arnulf) yes
(Faust) do you want to climb down?

Meadow Meal

Me is a meadow meal
and the guess I get it
and the gate I get it
and the game I get it
a wonderful wooden reason
to stand in line keep in line
line up
crash the sound
you lose your hand
to understand
the accident is red

you are a fruit fork
and the money you look up
and the madame you look up
and the middle you look up
a wonderful wooden reason
to stand in line keep in line
line up
crash the sound
you lose your hand
to understand
the accident is red

Miss Fortune

Are we supposed to be or not to be?
said the angel to the Queen
I lift up my skirt and 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
we have to decide which is important
a war we never see
or a street so black babies die?
a system and a theory
or our wish to be free?
to organise and analyse
and at the end realise
that knowbody knows
if it really happened



Ian MacDonald: The Sound of the Eighties

A low buzzing sound, at first almost subliminal, emanates from a position somewhere between the twin stereo speakers. It wavers, hesitantly, from side to side - and then spreads out into all the channels, intensifying in volume, until one end of the room is transformed intoa a wall of drizzling white noise.

Some music can be glimpsed vaguely on the other side of this translucent electronic barrage, presumabley the group playin gthe intro to their first number. But no, it's the Stones singing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction".

And before you can sort this out and start wondering about copyright and how are they getting away with this and what's it for, "Satisfaction" has disappeared, reading back into the aural haze - which is still swellin gin volume, as if stung to irridation at being interrupted.

And now here comes the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love": a tiny match to answer the Stones' complaint that immediately fades back through the drizzle.

A couple more seconds, and the electronics abruptly cease. Wipe out. Somebody shouts something incomprehensible into the ensuing silence; it might have been English or German but again you aren't given the chance to muster your thoughts because a piano has begun to play.

Some recogniseable chords in a fragmented time signature give way to atonal dislocation. False start? Now the pianist tries a second idea, you grasp the tempo, and - at least - the group enters in force.

You realise why the preamble was necessary: quite simply, Faust sound like nothing else on earth.

The few minutes I've described can be found on Faust's first album, released in Britiain in mid 1972 six months after it was recorded in a converted ex-schoolhouse near the village of Wumme, just outside Hamburg.

Noting all the minor innovations in rock since Lennon and McCartney hauled the music body out of the twelve-bar trap of rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues - noting Brian Wilson's visionary production job on "Good Vibrations", noting the experiments half-completed by the Velvet Underground and the United States of America into the sound-limits of a Late Sixties rock-group, noting Captain Beefheart's casually suggested fusion of primitive blues with free jazz ("free-rock", in fact) on "Trout Mask Replica", and forgetting neither "A Day in the Life" , "Tomorrow Never Knows", or "I Am The Walrus" - taking all of these contributions into account, I have to say that the implications of what Faust are doing form the most significant conceptual revolution in rock for ten years.

Why should such a revolution have occurred in a country which has next to nothing in the way of a rock tradition (inasmuch as it's possible to speak of "traditions" in a field which, a the most, encompasses only two decades)? Precisely because of that absent tradition - and it's no coincidence that the first writers to recognise this were from France, a country likewise lacking in rock "roots". "Rock & Folk"'s Philippe Paringaux has observed that the more adventurous of the German bands owe their experimental precepts to the fact that, possessing neither the traditions nor the temperaments of American and British rock musicians they "view rock as it's played in its lands of origin with a certain amount of detachment eliminating to the best of their ability any attampts to reproduce a 'feeling' which cannot belong to them... taking no more from American or British rock than a state of mind".

Listening to Faust, who are by far the most extreme of the German experimental bands, one can indeed discern that which might be termed "the rock consciousness", but at the same time one is fored to admit that (on Faust's first album, at least) the element of rock in the group's work is neither critical, nor particularly salient. Faust at their least compromising, simply play music using instruments developed through rock. Uwe Nettlebeck is Fasut's producer, advisor, and encourager. He formed the band in early 1971 at the request of a Polydor A&R man who was looking for the definitive "detached" German rock-group.

"The idea," Uwe recalls, "was not to copy anything going on the Anglo-Saxon rock scene - and it worked. I like Faust more than I like the Beach Boys or the Velvet Underground or the early Mothers because theri music is just not "industrial product".

"They're not 'professional' in that sense - they're just trying to be themselves and put on nothing but their own music. I've always liked the idea of releasing records which lacked conventional 'finish' in terms of production, but which have that private thrill of spontaneity that I miss in the business. In other words: the records should sound like bootlegs, as if recorded by somebody who passed a group rehearsing or jamming and then cut the recorded material widly together."

Because of the demands of a commercial company, this idea has only partially realised on Faust's two records (a glimpse of it can be heard in Why Don't You Eat Carrots? from the first album), but I've heard selections from the band's private tapes recorded continuously over the past two years, ad this collaging technique, in its undiluted state, is one of Faust's most radical conceptions. It differs primarily from the kind of sound-collages made by Frank Zappa in that Zappa is, creating ambiguitiies by juxtaposing apparently unrelated ideas (including ad-libbed speech, musique concrete, and finished - and self-sufficient - songs). In other words, part of Zappa's talent is purely organisational. He organises the sounds he's predetermined and creates continually where ne existed before (by simple viture of the components being separate).

On the other hand, the components of Faust's music aren't conceived as separate. They take the notion of continuity so much for granted that one sometimes gets the feeling that, behind that amazing rapid fire of successive musical images, there was once a straight forward, unassuming little 12-bar. Faust aren't, like Zappa, trying to piece together a jigsaw iwth the parts taken from several different jigsaw sets; they're taking a singe picture (which may be extremely unorthadox in its virgin state), chopping it into jigsaw-pieces, and fitting it together again in a different way.

Both methods have their order and logic, but Faust's has to be the less contrived in that their materials are from a single body of musical thought. In their earlier stages (for, it must be admitted, Faust have recently - at least, on their second album, So Far - ceased to explore the innovation) this New Continuity was as organic as the band's entirely processed sound, ie. it was the music, not just an organised embellishment of it.

Once again, a French critic put his finger on the particular quality of the urgency this feature of Faust's music psosessed: Christian Lebrun worte (in "Beat"): "Bob Dylan, believing that the Cuba Crisis would let loose an atomic cataclysm, comosed 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall', in which each line was the idea for a separate song he didn't belive he would have time to wirte. Faust's music is a bit like that; each musical phrase, each fragment, each quotation seems to be a part of a whole music that time is pressing them to play." How did Faust arrive at this concept? By simply investigating the technology of the rock medium in the same way that they arrived at synthesizing, not one sound or instrument, but the whole group: by really looking at the art and meaning of magnetic tape-editing, and then cross-indexing this with the naturally interrupted continuity of the everyday experience. And they arrived at the sounds to fit this structure simultaneously with finding a rationale for the purely technological side of the group's set-up: because they were the same discovery. The fact that hardly anyone in the world has found a theory and an integrated role in music for the electronically-produced or altered sound except this German rock group is much more of a cultural vindication of our music than William Mann's acceptance of "Seargeant Pepper" - because here rock has out-stripped mainstream music, not limited or genuflected to it, as Tony Palmer belives it should. Comtemplating the electronic Mesphistopheles that Faust had to invoke to reach this position, Philippe Paringaux points out that the band "risk nothing less than the loss of their soul" - which is exactly what most of the parallel experiments in the mainstream have foundered on.

Ian MacDonald, "The Sound of the Eighties", NME 1973


Dave Morrison: Faust

In the introductory murk to Faust (1971), brief snippets of "All You Need is Love" and "Satisfaction" emerge before being swalled up again. A minor but telling detail. Faust were intent on producing a new german music that owed nothing to US or UK influences, or indeed to any established scene.

An understanding record company, a converted schoolhouse studio at their disposal and a year and a half later, voila! one astonishing debut. It set a blueprint of sorts in it's musical fission of rock, pastoral melodies, speech and abstract sounds. Anything that could be recorded, was.

Dave Morrison, "Faust", Select 1993
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Julian Cope: The Clear Album

Some of the points raised by Cope are addressed in an interview with Jochen Irmler. Renate Layne had things to say about the idea of 'Krautrock'

Listen to the Mothers of Invention's concert recordings from 1966 onwards and it's just trash. Musical bollocks of the most merely capable variety. Faust live? This is a different thing entirely. Like all the greatest Teutonic groups, Faust were brought up with middle-European dances and a staple of folk and tradition which was not 4/4. As a consequence, German bands could get far more complex than U.S. and British bands would ever dare and it still sounds rocking and crazy, rather than a bunch of Twee Smug Gits. Find an old Caravan,Man or Henry Cow LP for 50p somewhere and compare it with this. I'm joking of course.

Four years ago, I had dinner with a very successful journalist who told me that he'd had to review Love's "Forever Changes" for Q Magazine now that it was available on CD. Wow, I shouted. You lucky fucker! Yes, he said. But I know it so well I couldn't summon up any real energy, so I just gave it 8/10. "Forever Changes" is a dark achievement. Were it an ancient text or a document it would be hidden from view and spoken of in obscure circles, But because it operates through the medium of Pop Music, it gets tarts like said Journalist giving it 8/10. This is a classic case of a man sleepwalking through life.

So now I have to set to and tell you about the first Faust album, and I will not let you down. For a start, its a big 10/10. No, make that 11/10. It defies categories. It's a horrible noise. It's cut-ups to the Nth degree. Part of it is just like Frank Zappa's "Lumpy Gravy" (a funny bit, thank the Goddess.) It is super-gimmicky, syrupy in the weirdest places, and never outstays its welcome. But probably the strangest thing of all is just how good Faust sound when they are creating on the spot moments of rock'n'roll on the epic Miss Fortune. Here they transcend all studio trickery and here they come alive.

Julian Cope, "Krautrocksampler", Head Heritage 1995, ISBN 0-9526719-1-3, © Julian Cope
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Phillipe Paringaux: Faust

From the cover of the Faust Tapes

The term Rock-and-Roll isn't adequate to describe something which transcends all the limits of contemporary music. New and outlandish sounds assembled with a remarkable grasp of the aesthetics of sonority. Burns and caresses,the grating of metal, the crackling of electricity. All the resources of the studio and the science of electronics are here exploited with a devouring curiosity, but also with a remarkable sense of proportion. For, in the game of technique for technique's sake, Faust risked nothing less than the loss of their soul. That soul lives on amidst the crashing and grinding of a music which leaves all coldness behind and which, when it wants to, can be very moving. Moreover, intelligence guides its every developement for, behind the delirious, dizzying effects it houses, a musical structure reveals itself, profiling a series of fixed designs around which impromptu ideas can be he scattered. A structure that's a firm guarantee against tne kind of chaos in which all experiments like this risk foundering, but which is none-the-less flexible enough to encompass the spontaneity necessary to prevent the experiment seizing up - as happens with many other explorations in contemporay music. The result is some of the most intense and authentically innovative music in the history of rock. Faust is indisputably a group to be seen and heard.

Phillipe Paringaux, "Faust", Rock & Folk 1972


Phillipe Paringaux: Faust: Clear

From the cover of the Faust Tapes

Germany seems to be the only country on the Continent capable of making a really original contribution to what we call rock music. Here come Faust, who confirm this suspicion, wnich had already been aroused by Amon Düül (and, as a matter of opinion, the former is even better than the latter). The essential reason for this Germanic phenomenon is very probably that these groups - who are neither British nor American and KNOW it - view rock as it is played in its lands of origin with a certain amount of detachment, eliminating to the best of their ability any attempts to reproduce a "feeling" which cannot belong to them; in this way they reject most of the musical elements which form the vehicles of this feeling, taking no more from American or British rock than a state of mind. The elements of their music they look after for themselves, and the fact is that this carries them a good deal further.

And so it is with Faust: more than the reproduction of emotions through the human voice, more than the explanation of these emotions through elaborate texts, more too than an instrumental virtuosity which hardly puts the instrunents themselves in question (it's not enough just to plug them into an amp to transform them), more than an exciting, hypnotic rhythm: the group has chosen to retain from all the elements of rock just that which is most neglected today: the investigation of new sounds, an area which is given so much attention on this album that it becomes the album's essential feature. Sound. Electronic and acoustic.

The record could have been subtitled "An Application of Technology to Rock'n'Roll". Once again the term rock'n'roll isn't enough to define a music which touches on all the 1imits of contemporary music. Faust hurl themselves regardless of all risks along this impassioned path, and travel to the very farthest esitrelnes of experimentation. The result turns out to be one of the most intense and truly progressive albums in the history of rock. Nothing less.

Noises never heard before, strange groupings brought together with a remarkable sense of sound aesthetics, burns and caresses, the grating of metal, the crackling of electricity. All the resources of the studio have been exploited with devouring curiosity - but also with a remarkable sense of proportion. Because - in the game of technique just for technique's sake - Faust risk nothing less than the loss of their soul. The soul remains intact through the crashing and grinding of a music which leaves all coldness behind and which, when it wants to, knows how to affect the emotions. And its intelligence continues through the whole album - behind the delirious, dizzying sounds to which it gives shelter a musical structure reveals itself, presenting a precise schematic profile around which irrational effects can be laid down. A structure which is a good guarantee against the chaos in which all attempts of this kind are in danger of drowning, a structure which is nonetheless flexible enough to allow the spontaneity without which all such experiments would become cold and lifeless - as happens with many of the explorers of contemporary music.

Here, moments of mania and moments of peaceful ecstasy are carefully distributed throughout the album, the first piercing, congested, tearing; the second sometimes suggested by the simple presence of an unamplified piano or some obscure recitation. The record opens with a long, jumbled feedback effect behind which one vaguely makes out the Stones singing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" and the Beatles answering them with ""All You Need Is Love". Irony or homage ? The influence of these two groups on Faust is hardly in evidence - in fact, no influence is in evidence here and you have to bend your ear to make out, here and there, features which wouldn't necessarily be disowned by Zappa or last year's Soft Machine. The album closes with a dialogue between two voices, recited in the Velvet Underground manner. between the two of them an extraordinary, swelling, baroque sound, grandiose, grinding and harmonious, long pieces scattered among the fury of wild, liberated instruments, and moments of held breath, melody.

Faust is undisputably a group to be seen and heard. Will the success of the elder Amon draw them to our shores one day ? That would be risking quite a commotion - the objection that a studio work couldn't be recreated on the stage falls to pieces of itself: all the second side of the record was recorded live.

Don' t forget Faust.

Phillipe Paringaux, "Faust: Clear", Rock & Folk 1972


Ed Pinsent: Faust

This review was taken from the first issue of The Sound Projector, an excellent magazine devoted to some of the best things in music. Issue One also includes articles on La Monte Young, Stereolab, Amon Düül, Harry Partch, Tony Conrad, Boredoms, Kraftwerk, Joe Meek, Kramer and many others. To get a copy, send a cheque for 3.50 UK Pounds made out to Ed Pinsent to : The Sound Projector, BM Bemused, London WC1N 3XX.

A copy of the first Faust LP finally made its way back to me. I used to own a Recommended Records reissue which I foolishly got rid of. I never really figured it out at the time. A good 15 years later, the blocks have been removed, I hear it for the first time. I'm struck by the editing, and the use of found materials. For the latter, the insertion and layering of pop-music Fragments from various disguised sources is not Simply a happy accident- it is a deliberate attempt to warp normality through subversion of pop cons and treating familiar sounds. But it's also done vith affection, hence the sleevenote, 'I like the Beach Boys!'. As Edwin Pouncey has observed, this pop-music component would soon fall by the wayside unfortunately. As to the edits - it doesn't take much deductive reasoning to figure out that producer Uwe Nettelbeck was as much a member of the band as the musicians. He was their Doctor - he knew when to to undo the straitjacket, and when to lock them in the rubber room. The selection of musical fragments and their juxtaposition - just like 'painting on recording tape' as Holger Czukay speaks of on "On the Way to the Peak of Normal. Clearly, this chaotic form of control is what we lacked on "The Faust Concerts". Some form of structure - no matter how eccentric - is needed to give their lunacy real meaning. Otherwise they tend to wander off to a far corner of the asylum and assume a catatonic position.

Then again, compare their altruistic and outgoing work with Slapp Happy in the 1970s. Not everyone seems clued up on the fact that Slapp Happy and Faust worked together. The former made a very jolly eponymous LP released on the Virgin label in 1974 (V 2014), a crisply recorded collection of eccentric and wonderful songs played by Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad, and sung by Dagmar Krause. The same songs however, had previously been recorded in Germany in a 1973 session where the bassist, drummer and sax player of Faust joined in, and Uwe Nettelbeck produced. (I don't have the full story on why the Virgin label wanted a different version. I note that Jean-Hervé Péron's bass parts appear to survive on the Virgin record.) These sessions surfaced as an LP called "Acnalbasac Noom", credited to Slapp Happy or Slapphappy , released in 1980 by Recommended Records as RRA 5. Sensible listeners and fans alike prefer the Faust version, which is somehow looser and weirder; you notice it in the way the performances of the other players are affected by the Germans, as if Faust's very presence in the studio releases these cramped Englishmen from their shackles, and makes them play even more eccentrically. i believe a CD reissue contains both Virgin and Faust versions, but can't confirm at this time. Fans of Bongwater might be familiar with their version of "The Drum", on "Too Much Sleep", Shimmy-Disc (1989).

Ed Pinsent, "Faust", The Sound Projector 1997
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ref: Sound Projector


Audion: Faust: Breaking all the Rules

Audion is a well regarded magazine covering many topics of interest to fans of 70's German avant-rock. You can contact Audion at Audion, c/o Ultima Thule, 1 Conduit St, Leicester LE2 0JN, UK

A lot of mystery has surrounded the band Faust, like 'Who were they?', 'What happened to them?', 'Are they really all driving taxis?'. But seriously, the mystique that surrounded the band was totally intentional, calculated for maximum impact, their music and the presentation of the albums caught the public awareness almost instantly without any concerts or hyped publicity.

Faust (German for "fist") were the brainchild of journalist Uwe Nettelbeck, who was approached by a Polydor A&R man with the idea of doing something new, unlike anything in the Anglo-Saxon rock scene. To boldly go where no band has gone before! With a large advance from Polydor they converted a small school hall outside Wümme (between Hamburg and Bremen) into a Faust circa 1972well equipped studio. Along with the help of engineer Kurt Graupner the 6 specially recruited musicians began to play, record, isolate themselves from the world and develop a sound that was uniquely their own.

Score for the Hamburg Musichalle Concert, 1971After 6 months or so Faust made their debut live performance in Autumn 1971 at the Hamburg Musikhalle. Reactions to this concert were very mixed, the music press gave Faust the critical thumbs down whilst audience reaction was one of startled curiosity or bewilderment.

It may not be surprising then that when Faust's debut album appeared in Germany in late 1971 that it too was slagged off by the press. Initially sales were very poor, reputedly well below the 1,000 mark. Contrastingly however, when Faust was unleashed upon the British public, with its totally clear packaging (album, sleeve and insert) and eye-catching clenched fist design, amongst the wave of German weirdness, the likes of which were being imported by Virgin and Fox Records, it gained a lot of reaction. To quote John Peel: 'When I saw their extraordinary first LP with its equally extraordinary sleeve and felt that, regardless of the music within, I had to acquire one'.

The word 'extraordinary' sums up Faust quite nicely, 35 minutes of excessive invention, a bewildering yet exciting blend of rock, weirdness, parody, and lots of things no one had ever heard before. Opening with distorted electronics and static, snippets of "Satisfaction" and "All You Need is Love" break the airways, a piano link brings in an offbeat brass band which in turn is joined by strange collage and vocal effects, and that's just the first 3 minutes! From here on things get even stranger. Even by todays standards Faust is still a weird album.

Audion, "Faust: Breaking all the Rules", Audion 1989
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Simon Reynolds: Retroactive

Krautrock wasn't a movement, but a moment, a final thrust of the psychedelic project to gobble up every kind of music, and every kind of non-musical noise too, in order to excrete the outermost sound conceivable. But there were as many differences as affinities between the principal Krautrock players. If Can were fusion, Faust were fission. Can were into total flow; they oozed a self-irrigating flux of forms that grooved. Faust were more assembled, a concotion of jutting angles, jolting jump-cuts between genres, and jarring juxtapositions. Put simply, Can rolled, Faust rocked.

Faust's aesthetic was one of rupture and randomness. They effected bizzare shifts in tone (from portentious gravity to zany goofing off, from placid poignancy to balls-out aggro) or made oxymoronic collisions of incompatible emotions that resonated like a strange chord. On So Far (1972), Faust proceed from the spartan velvet stomp of Rainy Day through the wistful folk-rock embroidery of On The Way To Abamae to the highly frictional funk of No Harm, spitting out sparks like a rogue trash-compactor. So Far itself is a lush labyrinth of tangled tendrils, like Miles Davis jamming with the Velvet Underground while Tim Buckley handles the backing vocals.

Where So Far is at least nominally divided into nine 'songs', the earlier Faust (also known as "Clear" because of it's originally translucent polythene cover imprinted with an X-Rayed hand) consists of three long suites. each is a quilt patched together from outbursts of acid-rock hoo-ha, zany chorale, found sounds, synnth-gibberish, freeform jazz, nonsense incantations, mock-muzak, animal noises (genuine and falsified), ad infinitum. The music doesn't connect vertically (incongruous noises are built up layer by layer) or horizontally (instead of narrative, it's a string on non-sequiturs). But somehow a wonderful dream-logic imposes itself. Pure Dada again.

Anyone who's loved the last half-decade's reinvention of the guitar - the strange sonorities hewn by Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Mercury Rev, etc. - will instantly recognise Faust as a prime ancestor of 'our music'. These first-time-on-CD re-issues are essential, not just as a history lesson, but as living legacy, and as a reproach to an underachieving age. There's still so far to go.

Simon Reynolds, "Retroactive", Melody Maker 1992


Dominique Leone: Faust / So Far

Rating: 9.0/9.6

Ah, Germany in springtime. The leaves have returned, and the air is cool and of noble weightlessness. You can clearly see what the past has left behind in the medieval town squares, and hear the music of Bach's day playing continually from the opera houses and churches. Germans, like most of us, enjoy admiring nature. And since their cities have many parkland areas, it's no surprise to find the tourists crowding shops while the locals gaze in an auburn splendor. This is a country of quaint Bavarian villages and major metropolitan centers, majestic mountains and beautiful waterways, castles and culture. So, wouldn't it be nice if we dropped some acid, holed up like trolls and made an album?

Faust's records have never been the kind you dissect. The band seems to have some kind of plan at work, but not the type of plan left for others to follow. It's not the kind of algorithm that bears any scrutiny; yet, 30 years later, the music remains. And given the state of the boys in der Gruppe, that alone makes it worthy of reissue.

Faust circa 1972After spending several months in 1970-71 lazing, smoking, and existing rather superfluously (on Virgin Records' dime, of course), Faust moved their commune to Wümme in western Germany and decided to get serious. By serious, I mean they decided to put to tape the sugarplum visions in their heads. By sugarplum visions, I mean the acid-damaged prototypes of the New Solution for Music. By music, I mean their self-titled 1971 debut album and its contents, which consist of the music they played and processed using Kurt Graupner's infamous little black boxes. And by Kurt Graupner, I mean Faust's engineer, the sound wave saviour who, perhaps more than any other, was responsible for bringing the group's adventures in hi-fi to acetate.

Why Don't You Eat Carrots? gets the movement underway with a knall ("bang," my kliene Kinder). Actually, it's more like the wake of a small jet whose engine roar is panned out all over your speakers. In the jet's cockpit, we have All You Need is Love and Satisfaction blaring, if only to remind you that Faust were at one time human and listening to your music. Upon reaching an altitude of about 120 decibels, our captains decide to let the aerodynamic vehicle coast, dropping a vaguely Bill Evans-esque piano interlude before launching a vaguely Zappa-esque groove that features some vague kind of shinai solo (or maybe one of their homemade synthesizers). I wish I could translate the sheer romantic terror of the thing, but it's all rather vague.

Meadow Meal follows, and though the intensity has died down a bit, Faust still resides in the hall of mirrors. There doesn't seem to be much reason behind the stuff (other than the "wonderful wooden" variety), and though the by-product may be skewed art-pop along the lines of Throbbing Gristle or Nurse with Wound, the overwhelming vibe here is of playful curiosity rather than oppressive abstraction. After a mystical incantation ("And the guess I get it/ And the gate I get it/ And the game I get it"), they break into a trashy rock joint, shimmying like Monkees on parade. I suppose they couldn't have kept it down if they'd tried.

And that ends the program as Faust planned it: a total of about 18 minutes of music before running out of steam and/or money. What to do, then, but jam out the mother of all documented freak-outs. Miss Fortune is probably not Faust's greatest legacy, but it is a testament to some fairly unadulterated haze-charisma. Recorded live, it consists of two rock-esque instrumentals (again filtered through Graupner's little black boxes), and one fantastic piece of prose set to a ghostly backdrop of acoustic guitar and admirably understated shakers. "And at the end, realize that nobody knows if it really happened." And at the end, I say "amen."

Faust wasn't a hit by any stretch, but it was freakish enough to garner a cult following. So, with a small sect of the world waiting, the band retreated to Wümme again, presumably with the intention of making an album that you could at least play while sober. That album would turn out to be So Far, their 1972 sophomore release, and the record with which the press (or whomever it was covering them at the time-- probably just the NME's Ian MacDonald) caught up.

Within seconds, the change is obvious. The steady tom toms and insistent rhythm guitar of It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl aren't the work of the voodoo shamans on the last album - or maybe they are, but under pressure, perhaps Faust just betray their VU roots more readily (and simultaneously earn their Krautrock merit badge). But where there had been chaos, there was now tranquility; where there had grown paranoia and Dadaism, suddenly there sprouted mystique and atmosphere. A good start, but stay tuned.

After On the Way to Abamäe, we're given signs that all is not well in the Faust camp. No Harm begins with a drawn-out crescendo that leads into a horn-driven instrumental. That's about as much as I can say about it. It's sort of indistinct, but in the context of the album, and coming from this band, it seems either very campy and strange, or oddly comfortable. In any case, the feeling doesn't last long, as three minutes in, the tune transforms into feverish blues-rock, with the phrase, "Daddy take the banana, tomorrow is Sunday," repeated ad nauseam. You know Faust, right?

The funny part about Faust was, no matter how far out they got, they always came back. And on the title track, they trade in their acid wisdom for pure Kraut trance groove - though very different from Can's avant-funk or Neu's motorik beat - via horn punches and a galloping rhythm. And, like clockwork, just when you think they've managed the whole acid situation, Mamie introduces the buzzsaw of doom, replete with an intimidating synth force field and Moog vomit. Then, the chanting returns. The chanting! It's like some kind of game that only the Boredoms have figured out how to play since.

I could tell you that the next song goes back to sounding halfway normal (you know, that "kids in a dark studio with bipolar musos to the tune of a DeVry commercial" kind of normal), and that the last track tells you how many toes and ears you have, but you get the picture. It also asks, "I wonder how long this is gonna last?" and if I didn't know it lasted two or three more years, I'd say about ten minutes. In the end, history and I were wrong, because both of these albums have outrun all the detox statistics by maintaining a permanent place in the hearts of seemingly normal people everywhere. Okay, so it's probably mostly greasy lo-fi musicians and acidheads, but there are times when it doesn't pay to know the difference

Dominique Leone, "Faust / So Far", Pitchfork Media 2001
ref: Faust / So Far
ref: Pitchfork Media