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Faust - Faust IV CD (album) cover

FAUST IV

Faust

 

Krautrock

3.92 | 212 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Push play and take the short route to the dizzying heights of Krautrock perfection.

With a warped electronic whiplash you're suddenly drenched by a surging, pulsing drone of the most wondrous richness and majesty. A shining, rather warm mishmash of fuzzy, unpolished synth sounds dance and shimmer in layer upon layer, mixed with deeper, bassier murmurings lurking in the background together with shorter, more playful (and ocassionally more abrasive) phrasings that haphazardly pop in and out of the mix. After a while a hypnotic tambourine-like beat anchors the piece while mischievous distorted guitars wink, blink and glitch by like quick and sudden electrical impulses. The bass build on the beat with a mantra-like repetitive zeal with room for discreet but delicious changes. Guitars evolve into denser, more textural sounds and mingle with the keys in ever more intense, loose and multi-layered tapestries of fragile harmonies and noise before - suddenly - the drums build up as for a crescendo with a proper beat and some power around the seven minute mark. But nothing really changes, at least not drastically. Guitars break free from the instrumental hive-mind and start to form floaty and more melodic structures that dominate the now airier soundscape for a while. It gets a bit ominous and hesitant right about here, where nervous, chaotic electronic sounds swoosh past or hover threateningly before dissipating. A final flutter of cymbals and the fading last remnants of the guitars...and it's all over. Just like that. Not with a bang, but with a whisper. Et cetera.

The contrast to what follows is what breaks and makes this album. The Sad Skinhead is a groovy, off-beat-laden pop rock ditty with a scaled down and roomy arrangement of drums, bass and guitar. Basic, primal, naked. Some eager marimba fill out the spaces along with hints of the previous electronica and eventually makes this song more interesting than when taken at face value.

This intrinsic conflict on Faust IV is ever present on all the remaining tracks. A slightly lazy and curious love for easy-going pop and rock that makes me think of Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and The Velvet Underground. Love, yes, but also a flippant, humorous detachment and a whimsical dismissal of it all. That same undeniable but mesmerizing friction with harsher structural and sonic experimentation you can encounter in their work. But Faust are even less focused. You get a feeling that the band felt bored with the compositions while they were still being composed. Add to this an almost punky spirit of DIY and a streak of simplicity and you end up with an intriguing and special end result.

Clear and roomy production and a pulsing, repetitive nature in both melody and rhythm is inherent to many of the tracks, but like on the epic Krautrock, things are left to evolve rather freely from this basic underlying pattern. Be it the dreamy pop-drone of Jennifer with hypnotic, throbbing bass sounds up front, the heavy, driving psych of Just A Second, a cheery, rollicking, Canterbury-esque pseudo-jazz theme in Giggy Smile, the Can-channelling, faux-chanson Lauft or the delicate and folky psych-pop of It's A Pain - all of them evolve into stranger, more convoluted territories as they run their course. Twisting sheets of chafing, hissing electronics and guitars. Watery and percussive oscillations over dark and aimless meanderings from guitar and piano. Loose, jam-like jazz section with extended saxophone solo. Near-mechanical noise. Freaky, clicking percussion and classical, string-infused guitar that dies off into minimalistic, proto-ambient. Sharp and atonal sound manipulation and distortion blurted all over places it doesn't belong.

All of these disparate parts are juxtaposed and jumbled as if it's the most natural thing in the world. There are no clear boundaries between what's a song and what's an experiment or between what's a composition and what's an improvisation. Everything merges. It makes Faust IV disjointed and fractured, but also very playful and inviting for anyone willing to explore this strange little world. It's a carefree, loosely held together mess with normal quality control and standards thrown out the window. But it still holds up as a thoroughly enjoyable collection of music.

Wonderful.

4 stars.

//LinusW

LinusW | 4/5 |

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