14 June 2005


Although it's probably true that charity shops aren't quite as much fun as they used to be, there's still cool stuff to be found with a bit of persistence. Recently I came across an original Virgin Records mint-condition vinyl edition of "The Faust Tapes" in a branch of the PDSA for a mere 49p. When this album was first released in 1973, it was famously sold for the price of a 7inch single, which at the time was 48p, so having paid only one extra penny is some serious inflation-busting!

Faust were of course one of the greatest of all the experimental rock groups to emerge from Germany at the turn of the seventies ('Krautrock', if you prefer) and, like their contemporaries Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Temple and Tangerine Dream they set about dismantling established forms and created something new from the wreckage. German culture had been virtually wiped-out after the war, and this was the sound of a new generation asserting their creative impulses, which certainly gained some recognition in the UK with John Peel being one of Faust's most high-profile admirers. This is actually the third time I've bought this album (first was a CD re-issue in the early '90s, second was as part of Recommended's indispensable "Wumme Years" boxset) but that's fine, cos it's probably one of my favourite records ever and it's nice to have the original packaging with all the reviews compiled on the rear sleeve. Reading the March '73 NME interview with Faust's manager Uwe Nettlebeck gives an excellent incite into what the group were trying to achieve with this release:

"The idea was not to copy anything going on in the Anglo-Saxon rock scene - and it worked. I like Faust, because their music is not 'industrial product'. They're not 'professional' in that sense - they're just trying to be themselves and put out nothing but their own music. We'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 wildly together."

The group's third album, "The Faust Tapes" is essentially a cut 'n' paste collection of studio outtakes, rehearsals, tape experiments and electronic doodles that somehow manages to perfectly sum-up what they were all about. You really need to hear the whole thing as one continuous mix to really appreciate it, but for the uninitiated, here's three 'bits':

Track 7

Track 11

Track 19

Although the group eventually fell-apart, they reformed in the nineties and continue to tour and record to this day. I must admit I haven't kept-up with the newer incarnations of Faust - it's still those original recordings which I find the most thrilling. This is probably because (a) the group's most talented creative force, Rudolf Sosna, died back in the '80s ( b) the unique circumstances of the music's creation - living and working in a remote house in the middle of nowhere with almost no contact with the outside world, a true playground where anything could (and often did) happen (c) the technical skillz of engineer-for-hire Kurt Graupner (above right) who was able to translate the band's most extreme ideas and somehow get them on to tape. That guy was working miracles on a weekly basis!

Visit the Faust Pages.

Update: Intrigued? Wanna hear more? Just found out that Phil did a big Faust post on Saturday with plenty more MP3. Oh, and some Faustian thoughts from Loki today, too. Weird synchronisity in full effect!