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THE FAUST TAPES

Faust

Krautrock


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tony@super8re
4 stars We must face a fact about "The Faust Tapes": it is one of the most polarizing recordings of all time. You'll love it or you'll hate it. Personally, this is one of my favorite albums of my 2000+ collection, and I've played it constantly since I discovered it when I was a mere lad of 15. A sound collage made up of older recordings spliced together in a seemingly random fashion, this album was originally released at a super-low price (it was $3.99 as an import in the U.S.)to celebrate/promote Faust's signing to Virgin records. Ironically, it's probably the least commercial thing they did in the seventies. Originally the album was a single continuous track, with no titles... I'll bet D.J.s of the day loved that (John Peel aside)!There are a few complete songs here- the gentle "Flahback Caruso" (which ends with a cool fuzz guitar-piano duel) the relentlessly propulsive "J'ai Mal Aux Dents" (which contains a French chant that roughly translates as "My teeth hurt, my feet hurt also")and the live favorite "Stretch Out Time". But most of the album is given over to sonic experimentation with no boundaries whatsoever.Prepared pianos duel with electric drills. Ayler-styled sax wails through walls of reverb, suddenly changing to a duet involving satillite-transmission keyboards and echoing trumpet. Experiments begin and end suddenly, violently, without regard for listener comfort. Similar to Zappa's "Lumpy Gravy" in form, but much stranger and less contrived, do not even attempt to listen to this unless you have an open musical mind and a taste for artistic mayhem. But if you are ready, as David Bowie once sang, to "turn and face the strange", "The Faust Tapes" may just be your cuppa avant-garde tea.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32603)
Posted Thursday, September 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars I believe (but can't be sure) that there are a few different versions, and the one I have is the Cuneiform-ReR version (more on this later), and this album received a UK-only on the Virgin label release at the time. The album, as the title indicates was made of tapes lying around and assembled into one big 43-min track (how that was possible without having an audible cut somewhere, is beyond me) and apparently moved quite well in UK, since it was sold at the price of a single, but often returned after one play as "crap". The back cover assures us that the almost 44-mins are cut in the 26 (unnamed) tracks (digitally indexed), and a buddy having the original Cd ReR-version tells me it is the case. So obviously Cuneiform's version is not respecting it. But this detail should not let us forget the most important, the strange and weird music on Tapes. The artwork appears different on this issue as well.

While the first Faust albums were definitive Krautrock statemernts, their collab (Dream Syndicate) with a minimalist obviously perverted their spirit and Tapes is the real result: one of the very first RIO album (avant-la-lettre, though) that boggles the mind, but can also disturb unaware/unwarned listeners (which is exactly what I was last time I rented this album from the library. This often-phantasmagoric soundscape is one of its decade's most influential albums, obviously heard by the Henry Cows and others. Rather hard to describe, the music often is just "bruitages" and montages of almost-industrial noises, but has some rather more accessible (almost easy) moments and some downright strange/disturbing "tunes", rendering the whole mix quite unnerving. Quite a strange but sometimes-wonderful trip, but by the time you get to the French-sung finale (by bassist Jean-Hervé Peron), you'll be glad the album is over. And unless having masochist tendencies, you shall not press replay right away.

After this very strange record, Faust would go on to release their fourth album, which turned to be their last of the decade, even though the group has been sporadically active for the last three decades (and at the time of this review, I believe they are). It is hard to rate this essential album correctly, because of the fact that it is historically important, absolutely highly influential (one of the four Virgin label albums that history shall remember, along with Oldfield's Tubular Bells Gong's you and the Sex Pistols' sole album), but yet slightly over-rated because of its iconic status.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#32604)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars A marketing disaster

This is the first, and I would think last, time I have given no stars to an album. (edit: the zero stars option has since been withdrawn, hence the one star rating).

"The Faust tapes" became something of a joke in the UK, as it sold so well, yet was almost universally derided. The reason the album sold so well was that it was one of the first ever albums by a contemporary artist, to be sold at a very cheap price in order to generate interest in the band. At the time of its release, the record companies fixed album prices, with discounting by retailers being virtually non-existent. The fact that this album of new material by a progressive band was originally available for less than a quarter of the normal retail price of an album meant that an extraordinary amount of interest was generated, and the album sold in vast quantities (in the UK at least).

Unfortunately, those who bought it found that it did not contain what could realistically be described as music. It is made up entirely of studio ramblings, and chat. There are no tracks as such, and no attempt appears to have been made to "compose" anything. Even for those who enjoy the most abstract and freeform of music, the contents of this album must be extremely challenging.

The damage done to the name and marketability of Faust in the UK must have been enormous. "Faust IV" was subsequently advertised as "very commercial" in an attempt to redress the balance, but "The Faust Tapes" must rank in music history as one of the worst own goals ever.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#32605)
Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
crazyhorsegbr
5 stars A masterpiece in my book. Universally hated by most, or at least seen as some kind of joke. To me it doesn't matter whether it was intended to be taken seriously by Faust or if it was an interesting aside to their more usual work. I love it and I still get as much enjoyment from it today as I did when I bought if for the grand sum of 49 pence in 1973. I still have my original copy. The only backward step since then is the changing of the artwork. Shame.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32607)
Posted Monday, March 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Faust Tapes" is even more difficult to rate because it was and still is for me one of the hardest listening experiences. Probably THE hardest. The original vinyl record sleeve was a ordinary plastic bag depicting a saturated green photo of an ugly idiot-looking male face shouting (or yawning) with red eyes, perfectly matching the craziness of the sound contained therein. This is basically a pastiche of sounds and electronic noise, with one exceptional moment - "Flashback Caruso", which is quite listenable. The rest is a pure headache. As mad as it may sound, this album of nonsense has a sort of appeal and attraction, but you must be a bit deranged (like myself, ha, ha) to like it. Minimum 10 years of prog listening experience is required! Approach with extreme caution! Although I give only 3 stars, it is basically a category of its own and very much - unrateable (if this is a correct English).

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#37916)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Given out at cost (99p) when released, it was intended to bring in the Virgin Records fans and give them a taste of Teutonic madness. Absolutely the defining moment in Faust's career. Brain damaging, drug addled, and absolutely brilliant. If you only want one Faust release, this is it! Try to find the original vinyl with the mind bending pop art cover. Definitive in a genre that shuns definitions.

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Send comments to prophet10 (BETA) | Report this review (#37937)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
frankburke@on
1 stars I recall reading in NME when this first came out that this band were similar to Deep Purple or the new Deep Purple. I thought I couldn't go wrong, an album for the price of a single), so I went out and bought it. What a mistake! I flogged my copy to a friend of a friend for 10p. I later heard that he hung it in his back garden and shot it to pieces with an airgun.

I haven't heard this for decades, but bits of it still come back to haunt me. I recall that about 3 or maybe 5 bits were not too bad. Reading the above reviews lead me to suspect that one of these pieces may well have been "J'ai Mal Aux Dents". I actually taped these pieces to fill the end of the tape I made of Rick Wakeman's Six Wives of Henry VIII and soon discovered that they were only good in the context of the rest of the album, which was absolute garbage. On their own they were appalling.

Don't buy this unless you are the sort of person who has to have everything by a band. Even then, try and listen to it first. Avoid this like the plague, or try and find whatever it is that most of the above reviewers have taken and don't listen to it until you have had your fix because, as sure as eggs are eggs, they could not have listened to it clean (no offence).

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#40704)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This recording has a very peculiar origin. It is indeed a Faust work if we strictly consider the source of inspiration, arrangements and performances; but the assemblage of all comprised sections as they appear in the actual album wasn't engineered nor conceived by the band, but a sound technician at Virgin Records who happened to be a proud Faust fan. He took the task of creating a bizarre collage of several home recordings the band had completed in their German studio just for fun or to entertain friends. Anyway, the final result was satisfactory for all Faustian musicians, so they granted their total conformity about its release in the music market. It was sold in the British stores for the prize of your regular single vinyl in order to promote the band's forthcoming first tour in the UK - it wasn't as a smart move as Virgin thought it would be, since it sold reasonably well but leaving no profit. Yet, all things considered, what better prize than a raving review for the album by Ian McDonald himself in the New Musical Express Magazine? (check http://www.faust-pages.com/records/tapes.html for the article's transcript). Now I'll write a little bit about the album's material. "The Faust Tapes" is yet another Faust masterpiece in which their collage-oriented ideology meets a more robust and aggressive expression than in their debut album (which was, indeed, quite intense). Even the more conventionally pop sections and the calmer passages intrinsically bear that typical Faustian bizarre feel, since there's always that impending doom that signals at the possibility for an abrupt change to bring in some sort of insanity - you just can't stop keeping the whole picture in mind (either retrospectively or prospectively) while listening to a specific section. Let's check over what happens during the first 14 minutes: random piano chords on reverb - tribal drumming accompanied by a Zappaesque choral arrangement - an acoustic ballad that reminds the listener of Dylan and The Byrds - singers struggling to gradually reach their highest tone, which is followed by aleatory washes of piano, trumpet, guitar, harmonica, percussion and demented chanting - a half French/half English-sung rocker that states a compromise between The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead, with hints to Barrett-era Pink Floyd. All this and more in a most bizarre (at times ,verging on the intolerable) 44 minute pastiche! Once again, I find myself granting a very high rating for an album that I can't honestly recommend to all prog fans alike. While this album is patently designed to draw the unfriendly listener away (miles away, to be more accurate), that won't detract me from regarding it as essential in the history of prog rock, and of course, the history of krautrock. Well, if krautrock was in itself a world apart within the world of prog, Faust created their own world within the aforementioned world apart, and this album certainly epitomizes the most accomplished qualities of their hyper-subversive style. Once I've stated this conclusion, I hope I made myself clear about why I see myself obliged to give this album 4 stars (4 1/2 stars in my mind).

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#41747)
Posted Friday, August 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Bought it for 45p in 1973 on my cousin's advice. I thought when i first heard it,what the hell have i got here! But 2 or 3 listens later i found that i actually loved it to bits! It was completely different to anything i had ever heard before. Go & buy it! It really is a masterpiece!

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Send comments to daz2112 (BETA) | Report this review (#67155)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is without a doubt one of the strangest releases ever and also one of the most unconventional. Given to the band by a studio engineer -who collected and glued several song fragments together- as a friendly, personal gift, the band liked it so much they wanted it to be released. The new record company Virgin, inspired by the success of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, wanted something new and original, and contracted the band. To feed the hype they released this album for the price of a 7" and as a result 50.000 copies got sold, infuriating poor customers who just bought it because they thought it was cheap and commercial. Not a smart move, as the production values of the album eclipsed the profits and ofcourse the band wasn't too happy with that. Through the years it was released in no less than 5 known covers, one of which was a vinyl in a green bag with a weird face on it, the current cd-release probably being the grey affair with the title in white. What's in the grooves, however, is an otherworldly collection of wonderful ideas, 26 selections that will make your jaw drop if you've got a taste for the bizarre. The original album didn't list any titles AT ALL, these became known through John Peel's show (he was a huge fan of theirs) so fans had to write it down. Most of the selections actually don't have any titles, but hidden amidst the chaos are some wonderful songs that do, ranging from the Dylan-like Flashback Caruso, the Kevin Ayers-like Der Baum to a long jam that could've passed as prime early-Mothers-era Zappa, J'ai Mal Aux Dents. The soundbits consist of manipulated voices, various kinds of drills, percussive works, some jazz-like passages, some really cool groovy stuff and some experiments that immediately make you draw lines towards Radiohead's re-invention as an electronic band. This is a masterpiece of known and unknown sounds for every fanatic of music that's different than your usual radio fluff.

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Send comments to Kaztor (BETA) | Report this review (#101700)
Posted Tuesday, December 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After reading many of the reviews given for this album on Prog Archives, I was initially quite surprised how much The Faust Tapes has polarised opinion. It goes from one extreme - 5 star review by Kaztor, to virtually a no star review from Easy Livin. In hindsight, it shouldn't be that surprising that an album like The Faust Tapes would attract such differing views as there is simply no other album out there like it. People's attempts to categorise this album pretty much fall flat. One reviewer pointed out that the album was compared to the music of Deep Purple by the NME at the time. Absolutely ridiculous! But then again, the NME always has talked out of its backside. I suppose the beginning of the live version of Lazy, on Made In Japan, when Jon Lord feeds his hammond through lots of distortion and effects, might bear a vague similarity to Faust's more fuzzy moments. The comparison is often made between this album and Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, but again this comparison is silly. Okay, both albums contain one large track that is made out of several short segments, but while Jethro Tull's work - probably their best - is largely structured, The Faust Tapes is deliberately not structured at all, and a cut and paste method of editing is liberally applied throughout, with lots of jagged edges created in the process.

Reading that on its initial release The Faust Tapes was released for just 49p, made me wish I was alive in 1973. I seem to remember the CD reissue (with the cover shown above rather than the far better Bridget Riley Crest painting of the LP) cost me something like £12 altogether, back in 1996. I seem to remember buying about five CDs at once, and putting them in my multi-CD player. After about getting through about three of the CDs I had got bored and had started doing some work, and pretty much switched off listening to the music. When The Faust Tapes finally came on I had fully stopped paying attention. I seem to remember reading something and then suddenly thinking, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? All these bizarre sounds were coming out of my speakers. It sounded like people walking up and down stairs with the TV blaring out and the taps turning on. There was this seven minute-long distorted jam that suddenly cut in with lyrics which sounded like Che-Va Buddah, Che-Va Lopee-Easy. There was this spooky ghost voices section rudely interrupted by the sound of someone drilling. I just could not pay attention to anything else - this was one of the greatest albums I have ever heard in my life. To me, the music was absolutely life-changing. How could you get away with doing this kind of music?

From that point onwards and until this very day, I've been hooked on Faust. The Faust Tapes has everything near enough contained in its 26 sections over 43 minutes of music. There are structured songs - albeit about gardens made out of sandwiches - to crazy sound experiments, to free jazz, to acoustic guitar passages with a French person speaking over the top of it. Whether my high opinion of this album is the norm, is of course a different matter entirely. Throughout my teenage years, I always used this album to get my parents out of my room! It is probably the best example of an album that you will either love or hate. You will certainly not be indifferent to it. There is no blandness to it whatsoever.

Is is prog? The Faust Tapes certainly classifies as progressive music for me, because it breaks musical barriers. The talents of the musicians are unquestionable. The music is structurally diverse. The music is sonically diverse. For me, it even has the emotional peaks and troughs that all good progressive music should have. Track number 12 on the newly released fully sequenced version of the album is an amazing beautiful segment of the album - this truly haunting and powerful chord sequence. And then it goes into this squeaky bit which sounds like a pair of fighting chipmunks accompanied by a gorilla playing a drum kit (no not Phil Collins). If you like a challenge, go buy this album. But be prepared to have your life changed in the process.

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Send comments to UnearthlyChild (BETA) | Report this review (#160836)
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Faust Tapes" is the 3rd full-length studio album by German krautrock act Faust. The album was released in 1973 through Virgin Records. The album is quite the oddity as it was originally sold for the price of a single to increase the UK audiences interest in Faust. A very unconventional marketing decision to say the least, but considering the even more odd decision by Virgin Records to sign an act as experimental and far from mainstream as Faust, it maybe isn´t as surprising. The late 60s/early 70s were times of heavy experimentation by both artists and labels, and this is definitely one of those.

"The Faust Tapes" features 26 tracks which seque into each other to form a sort of sound collage. The kind of sound experiment that I often dismiss as art for art´s sake but there´s just something special about Faust that makes even their most odd experiments stand out among projects by similar acts. There are only a couple of the tracks on "The Faust Tapes" that I would catagorize as "real" tracks. Tracks like "Flashback Caruso", "J´ai Mal Aux Dents", and "Der Baum" are examples of that. Most of the tracks on the album are odd and generally very short sound experiments though. Strange tape manipulations and effects, short pop/rock song like sequences and several weird experiments titled "Exercises". You can probably imagine how they sound like with songtitles like: "Exercise - With Several Hands on Piano" and "Exercise - With Voices, Drum and Sax". Most tracks sound a bit unfinished to my ears and while many of the ideas in thecompositions are interesting the tracks often lack structure and direction. The usual references to Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention are as evident on "The Faust Tapes" as they were on "Faust (1971)" and "So Far (1972)"...

...the final product is unfortunately not as strong as the first two albums by the band and even though I don´t know this for a fact I suspect that the material on "The Faust Tapes" are actually leftovers from the "So Far" sessions rather than new studio recordings by the band. To my ears "The Faust Tapes" sounds more like an odd experiment than anything else and while those who are familiar with the first two albums by the band would expect nothing but that, the quality of the material just isn´t as high on "The Faust Tapes" as the case were on the two predecessors. A 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#235322)
Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not actually recorded as an album as such, The Faust Tapes is a compilation drawn from hundreds of hours of tapes laid down at the band's Wumme studios, the same tapes also being the source of their first two albums "Faust" & "So Far" for their former label Polydor gmbH, who, for reasons best known to themselves, thought they had signed the German Beatles, and threw thousands of Deutschmarks at the band to build a studio and come up with the German Sgt Pepper. I think they may have been a wee bit surprised with what was delivered to them to release! After the first two albums flopped bigtime the band were duly kicked off Polydor gmbH and out of Wumme studios. Bolstered by the patronage of the inevitable John Peel, Virgin took a gamble on the band who arrived at the label armed with the tape reels. Needing something to whet the punters' appetite The Faust Tapes was the result.

The album opens with what sounds like an attempt to hit all the keys of a piano at the same time, which if nothing else grabs one's attention. This abruptly cuts into some rhythmic shouting and percussioning, and then we're at the first song proper, the lazily atmospheric piano led Flashback Carouso* whose mad cut & paste lyrics include such phrases as "Inside a stone of cream there is a language, Bring our minds together press them tight", Exercise With Voices follows sounding like the formative rumblings of a bad trip, then the crazy "J'ai Mal Aux Dents" (My Teeth Hurt) which lurches along like a determined drunk stumbling along a train corridor, a hugely catchy chord pattern repeated ad infinitum with mucho sax blowing. The song slides into a psychedelic wig out over the revised repeated refrain of "Schempal Buddah, ship on a better sea". Who cares what that means, it's fab! Ending abruptly, we are now in what seems to be a German café listening to the German speaking clock, then, without warning we are hurtling along on a Teutonic subway, or that's my impression anyway! Several more bizarre soundscapes roll past featuring church organs, treated pianos, sundry found sounds, tape effects - it's as mad as a spoon, or Lewis Carroll on bad acid. There's one part with slowed down and speeded up voices and church organ that is the stuff of nightmares. Suddenly, a tune, but only for a mere 48 seconds, natch. There's so much going on here it's hard to keep up, and remember, they did all this without the aid of digital editing. We're now up to "Untitled - All on saxes" which is laid back cacophony, followed by an "Untitled" piece starring recorded thunderstorms and heavily treated guitar noodlings, all highly charged and atmospheric. Rudolf Sosna, who is credited with writing the few actual songs up to this point, then gets to lay some lounge jazz piano on us, and then we're back on the cosmic underground train, coming back up for air in this strange land as multi-coloured skies drift by in a torpid fashion. I know, let's have some proto-Clangers noises but a couple of octaves lower and slow them down to a stop...reprise the treated guitarisms, and round off this strange thing with three songs! Stretch Out Time is probably the most "normal" thing here, you could almost dance to it, after a fashion. The final two songs are both written by the only non-German in the band, Jean-Hervé Peron. Der Baum (The Tree) with a sort of More period Floyd feel has lyrics that make sense for once, not that it matters "See her lying on the grass, Must be a nice feeling for her ass" indeedy. Finally we have Cherè Chambre - a spoken word stream of consciousness poem in French, over some lovely acoustic guitar picking.

Breathless now? I certainly was on first listen, and although the album is, some almost 40 (!) years later, very familiar to me, I still hear new things in it. I've attempted and probably failed to do it justice with my ramblings above, but you really need to hear it to fully appreciate its stunning uniqueness. The ever enquiring Julian Cope loved it while according to legend, future "Rock Star" Jim Kerr used it as a frisbee. Says it all really!

True musicologists may say Stockhausen and music concrete is where this is coming from, but Faust have a playfullness absent from that serious scene. Best listened to on headphones in the dark for full frightening effect, and not for the unadventurous! If you take the plunge and like it go back to "Faust" & "So Far" for more of the same, but, in my opinion they are not as good as this monstrous construct.

* Although the original record had no track titles and the album is recorded as two twenty minute untitled pieces, the 2001 CD issue attempted to make some sense of the sequencing, and this where I have sourced the track titles used here.

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Send comments to Starless (BETA) | Report this review (#413983)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 7/10

"The Faust Tapes" is a sincerely Avant-Garde that ought to be more respected.

Cult German band Faust's third album was something completely unexpected: although the first LP explored new realms no other dared to, the second album was much more accessible, even if it still was pretty strange, and had tons more personality. 'The Faust Tapes' cost 49 pence, and it managed to sell very well thanks to this clever technique. Otherwise, due to the extremely experimental and alien nature of the music, it wouldn't have been no way nearly as successful.

After 'So Far', it seemed like the band found a style to stick to, which was very different from the minimalistic debut. But then 'The Faust Tapes' comes along. Twenty six tracks, only a few of them longer than two minutes. Avant-garde as it had never been done before, where manifested, there are a huge array of styles, like Folk Rock, Proto-Ambient, Tape music, Folktronica, Noise Rock a-la-Velvet Underground (or pure Noise), Drone, Electronic little experiments, or almost undescribable Avant-Garde. They experiment with new sounds, using either traditional Rock instruments, like the guitar, or using more unusual ones like the wide range of percussion, which includes also different types of bells. They also love to play with studio effects, an activity that at the time had been trendy among experimental bands for a while.

These songs, because of their length, feel and are truly short, but it is an album to be considered as a whole: these twenty six tracks simply create a musical collage of a strange, yet curious picture. Twenty six tracks that each have something different to say, a collection of musical parenthesis all smashed into more than forty minutes. It is also an album that, because of it's controversial nature, has influenced many bands and albums that came out later on.

Among the tracks, there are a few that have a relatively normal length and can be considered normal songs, that find themselves hidden in between the shorter episodes: 'Flashback Caruso' is a sincere psychedelic tribute mixed with the melancholic musical wanderings of Krautrock. J'ai Mal Aux Dents' is much more noisy and dissonant, a proto- Noise Rock piece for sure. 'Der Baum' is somewhat catchy, in it's pure innocence, even though highly repetitive, and has a very unique rhythms section. As far as the rest of the songs are concerned, their story has been told.

'The Faust Tapes' is a sincerely Avant-Garde piece of music that ought to be respected more, not only for it's bravery but also for being an authentic pioneer for genres like Drone music, Ambient, and many others, without losing the genuine Krautrock feel.

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Posted Saturday, March 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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