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FAUST

Faust

 

Krautrock

3.81 | 146 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The debut Faust album was one of the greatest middle fingers ever directed at a clueless music industry. Did producer / con artist Uwe Nettelbeck really convince Polydor Records that this band of anarchists could be the next Beatles? And did they realize he was rubbing the company's nose in the dung of its own gullibility by including brief snippets of the Fab Four and the Rolling Stones at the top of the album opener, "Why Don't You Eat Carrots?"

You can hear it both ways: as a daring act of musical non-conformity, or just a ploy to exploit Polydor in the same way the label was no doubt using its other artists, by taking their money straight to the bank. Legend says the group wasted a generous advance of time and cash on drugs and other idle recreations, before making a late attempt at actual music-making. Once the tapes were rolling, however, all bets were off.

There may not have been a kitchen sink in their Wmme studio, but everything else was thrown into the mix, and the end result was a compelling mess of song, noise, dada absurdity, musique concrete, rock 'n' roll exuberance, and free-floating what the f*ck weirdness. Some of it almost sounds (halfway) normal, like the horn melody in between the interruptions of mind-frying cosmic radiation in "Why Don't You Eat Carrots?" or the crude but invigorating garage band jam following the silly nonsense poetry of "Meadow Meal".

But the yardstick of normality was set pretty low to begin with. The side-long assembly aptly (for Polydor) titled "Miss Fortune" sounds like a haphazard collage of leftover rehearsal tapes. And the playful arrangement of the closing narration, recorded word by separate word in alternating left and right channels, was quintessential Faust iconoclasm, like some of the best Krautrock both comic and thoughtful at the same time.

"The idea was not to copy anything going on in the Anglo-Saxon rock scene", said Uwe Nettelbeck afterward: pure Barnum & Bailey B.S. of course. But then again, Frank Zappa wasn't an Anglo-Saxon, was he? The arrival of Faust could almost be seen as the second leg of a long musical itinerary that began with Zappa in late '60s Los Angeles, continued all through Germany at the end of the decade, and eventually came full circle back to California in groups like The Residents and Chrome: two direct descendants of the patchwork Faustian method.

We can only speculate what the Polydor suits must have thought of the band's first album, when they recovered from their collective faint after first hearing it. But give the poor suckers a round of applause for their misguided zeal in signing such an unlikely act, and turning this musical lynch mob loose on an unsuspecting world.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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