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Faust – Patchwork 1971-2002

Label: Staubgold Format: CD,LP

Patchwork- sleeve detailI have to admit that now Faust are probably no longer a touring band I must rely solely on their studio recordings to feed a habit formed in the early 1970s. Their sound may have mutated from the early days to the vast, churning soundscapes of their live work such as Live In Edinburgh 1997 and Faust Wakes Nosferatu, but what it retains is its uniqueness. There is no other sound like the one they make. So the releases keep coming. This year has seen the Ravvivando remixes aka Freispiel and now something that, at first, looks like a long overdue successor to The Faust Tapes, but is very different to the remixes.

Here are ghostly fragments from the Wümme school house where this bunch of anonymous, driven musicians gathered. It is then mixed with shreds of their short sojourn at Virgin and, in some cases, snippets of more recent recording adventures. The CD is what the title suggests and it is all knit together in a fairly seamless and Faustian way. So, a disembodied piano collides with speeded up bells as someone operates a small industrial implement and those curiously mid-Atlantic voices once again chant “It’s a rainy day, sunshine girl”. They revisit the glorious sonic grinding of “Krautrock” in the edit version of “A Seventies Event” and follow it up with a slab of Krautrock for the 21st century, “Nervous”. It is a manic thrash for speeding pogo moshers and reminds me why their particular combination of guitar/organ/drums never sounded like anyone else. A piece of pure electric energy with punk vocal attitude. And these guys are no longer spring chickens. Its date is 2001 but it could have come, in part, from 1971-4.

Out of the glare of their electric thrashings comes the two chord acoustic guitar of “Duo”. It doesn’t go anywhere or lead into a song. It simply is. That’s it. A Faust Tapes moment that then drifts into a concentrated slice of spoof Jazz, veering from lounge piano stylings to Free Jazz trumpet and still only lasts 2.22 minutes. And when they call a track “Drone Organ” you can be pretty sure that’s what it will be but at one moment it sounds like fifty organs in a dark underground space then it swirls off into some other place entirely. I don’t know how Hans-Joachim Irmler does it either but I’m grateful that he does. He features in a more ethereal mode too on “Elegie”. One of my favourite moments from The Faust Tapes was the bit that is generally known as “Stretch Out Time”, and here it becomes just “Stretch Out” and apart from those Germanic-Atlantic vocals there is tantalisingly brief outburst of Günter Wusthoff‘s sinewy sax. There is simply not enough of it on record. I had to go back to “Giggy Smile” for an extra helping.

So, at times it may sound like a series of eerie nods back through three decades to their first assaults on anyone within listening distance but it is also a more considered collage that continues a line of experiment and develops it. They may have inspired others to follow but in their own strange and timeless way they do it best themselves.

-Paul Donnelly-

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