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Faust - So Far CD (album) cover

SO FAR

Faust

 

Krautrock

3.56 | 152 ratings

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Deferred Defect
3 stars Faust is strange.

I had known about them for years, but beyond being "that group from Germany", there wasn't anything else I could have told you about the iconic Krautrock pioneers.

Actually becoming involved with the genre had somehow made them even more mysterious, and it was rare that they were brought up at all. It was groups like Popul Vuh, CAN, and Cluster that were the topics of discussion, and I had forgotten Faust had even existed.

Maybe it's because they were *too* experimental; Their first release is a smorgasbord of sampled 60's pop rock, fairground sounds, traditional folk music, and shouted, almost cult like, vocals. It's tough material to get through, and was exceedingly effective at scaring me away for a while.

"So Far" was their second release, and embraces a far more conventional structure, but of course that's entirely relative! Being a complete sellout myself, it was the first track that got me interested in the album at all.

"It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" is a basic, but impossibly catchy opener. With a heavy tom-tom playing the simplest beat imaginable, it sounds as if some far away tribe has just entered the industrial revolution, and it really doesn't get much more complicated from here on out. 98% of the lyrics are in the song title, and there's no progression, but It's got such a happy vibe that I'm certain nobody could listen to it without feeling just a little bit better.

"On the Way to Abamäe" is a fantastic followup track. As it starts, it feels as though the band has taken the elements from "Why Don't You Eat Carrots" and played them in a slightly more conventional manner. We get the shouted lyrics, but almost to a beat, the folksy/fairground atmosphere, but it's worked into the song structure, rather than just an out of phase sample.

Eventually it breaks down into a very late 1960's sounding jazz/rock piece titled "No Harm".

There's enormous energy, and although the lyrics (as usual) make absolutely no sense, I get an almost Santana or even Gypsy King vibe from their delivery. This is an extremely fun song that highlights the groups improvisational abilities.

The second half of the album is insanely diverse, covering a range of genres that really shouldn't be on the same set of grooves. If I were to be writing a screenplay covering someone's slow spiral into insanity, this would be the soundtrack.

We start with "traditional Krautrock", whatever that might be. A simple but clean buildup in "So Far" sets the stage, with elements being added and removed as the band sees fit. This could be off of one of NEU!'s first few releases, including the transition from the happy, eventually comfortable soundscape Faust sets up, promptly dissolved into the dark, industrial sounding noises and bass heavy beats in "Mamie is Blue".

If all this has gotten you down, luckily Faust has you covered. "I've Got My Car and my TV" could be the theme for a 1970s children's show, complete with more folksy lyrics and instrumentation. It's well produced, but has aged the worst of all the songs, making it slightly disorienting to my ears. It would definitely have fit in as a guest track on Yellow Submarine.

Two more atmospheric freeform tracks fill the gap between this and the final song, "...In the Spirit", a vaudeville style romp, complete with brass and finger-snapping that comes along for the ride.

If this half of the record is analogous to losing your mind, our protagonist is long gone by this point! Unfortunately, I think it's *too* well done, and instead of feeling like a Faust take on Broadway, it comes across as a musical number that was included by accident.

This is one of those albums where I find myself switching records altogether after finishing Side 1. I appreciate the work that went into it, but the mood and atmospheres so carefully crafted during the first 25 minutes are unceremoniously torn down with the rest of the album. It's easier to go from Side 1 of "So Far" into "Tago Mago", than finishing Side 2, and now being forced to put on "Band on the Run"!

If there's one thing Faust is predictable at, it's unpredictability.

3.5/5 and still highly recommended listening.

Deferred Defect | 3/5 |

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