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Faust / Nurse With Wound / Cut Hands (live at St John Sessions)

Faust & Nurse With Wound live at St John Sessions December 2015 (Picture: Michael Rodham-Heaps)St John at Hackney, London 5 December 2015

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: illuminations strung across the lampposts of the capital, sparkling every night like twinkling stars; the inky darkness of the night already setting in by mid afternoon; overflowing trays of “luxury” mince pies everywhere you look. And – really – what says “Christmas” more than a Faust gig?

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Faust – jUSt

Bureau B

Faust - jUStAfter the joys of Something Dirty comes this new nugget of curiosity from the Péron/Zappi side of the Faust spilt. Entitled j US t (clever typographic minimalism for Just Us), it’s a twelve-track sketchbook of improvised flavours and some full-bodied wallop that Faust say should be taken, absorbed and remixed into your own musical endeavours.

There’s certainly plenty of fertile nooks and crannies to get your teeth into after all, lots of diverting schismatics to bend your grey cells around, rich pickings that fire on all cylinders from the offset as “Gerubelt”‘s bass(y) tensions and percussive bankings exploding in a colourful peacock of sliding angles, at its heart a strange germ of melody trying to hold on for dear life as crowning guitars dart in

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Faust and Omar Rodríguez-López – Live at Clouds Hill

Clouds Hill

Faust and Omar Rodríguez-López - Live at Clouds HillOn the many occasions I have seen Faust live over the last years, the original krautrockers have played many favourites and songs from the ’70s classics, although mixed with some improvisations. But other times they grasp the opportunity to collaborate with other artists, letting them colour the expression, or even get a feel for a different setting creating new fresh music.

This time it is the core members of Faust, Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi Diermaier, who have teamed up with Omar Rodríguez-López from The Mars Volta. Ultimately it sounds like a good idea, as the latter is well known to be capable of thinking outside a traditional song structure-like box, even though he now is making pop music

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Faust – Live at Klangbad Festival/Various Artists – Avant-Garde in the Meadows

Play Loud!

Faust - Live at Klangbad FestivalAlthough this DVD was released in late 2010, the footage — shot at the second annual festival held in Scheer, southern Germany — dates from 2005. Scheer is a small provincial town that since the late 90s has been the headquarters of Faust (or rather one of the two Faust factions, this being the one grouped around keyboardist Jochen Irmler and the Klangbad label). There are actually two films on the disc — a 70 minute record of Faust’s performance at the event, and a slightly longer film titled Avant-Garde in the Meadows which gives an overview of the festival’s three days.

The Faust performance features the aforementioned Jochen Irmler and one other figure from the group’s early ’70s origins, Arnulf Meifert, apparently absent from Faustian circles for many

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Faust – Something Dirty

Bureau B

Faust – Something DirtyOk, as most of the people reading this will know Faust were one of the most important bands of the 1970s Krautrock movement and have an incredible important body of work behind them. Also at this moment in time there appears to be two Fausts, so this is Jean Hervé Péron and Zappi W Diermaier’s Faust aided and abetted by Gallon Drunk‘s James Johnston and Bender’s Geraldine Swayne.

So that all cleared up, let’s get down to the music on offer. Album opener “Tell The Bitch To Go Home” is a three chord blues workout that to be fair would not have sounded out of place on an early Gallon Drunk album. Think “Some Fools Mess” without the dynamics. It has the feel of a studio jam and doesn’t seem to really gravitate beyond that and develop

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Faust – Is Last

Klangbad

Faust were the most radical and baffling of all the 70s German groups to acquire the ‘krautrock’ label. Their music was only tangentially related to the likes of Amon Düül, Can, or NEU! – on the group’s early albums, musique concret, tape loop experiments, folky guitars, parping saxophones, proto-industrial noise and impenetrable dadaistic lyrics all rub up each against each other in an endlessly fascinating musical and conceptual stew. Ambiguously poised between playful and aggressive, and containing almost no information on personnel or context to allay the listener’s perplexity, these albums remain some of the most challenging and rewarding of the 70s.

From around 1976 onwards, however, the group lay apparently dormant save for very occasional live performances by various members, before being reactivated at the start of the 90s by a trio of original alumni: organist and

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Faust (live at Pop Montréal)

Pop Montréal, Ukrainian Federation, Montréal 3 October 2009

The gathering krautrock-keen fans filled both levels of the seated, community-centre vibe auditorium known as the Ukrainian Federation which has hosted the likes of Patti Smith, Joanna Newsom, Loudon Wainwright III, and A Silver Mt. Zion. For Faust’s first ever show in Canada, heralding their entrance, Jean-Hervé Peron started by squawking and squealing on a trombone from the back of the hall before hopping on stage with drummer Zappi Diermaier (a forbidding presence and the original Faust percussionist), James Johnston (synth and guitar wizard and co-founder of Gallon Drunk) and Geraldine Swayne (vocalist, guitarist and multi-talented member). Before long, on a brightly lit stage, the definitive beat was established within the psychedelic jam that would soon be interrupted by lush clouds of French/German ditties, which were then overlapped with industrial meanderings.

The mood was largely light, loose and informal and not as

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Faust – Schiphorst 2008

Salamander

Schiphorst 2008The Schiphorst 2008 CD is a live album, recorded at the festival held quite literally in the rural backyard of founder member Jean-Hervé Péron, and is as ramshackle as you like. The tone is set by the packaging, which successfully conveys a flavour of the event – the front cover photo depicts a microphone struggling for visibility amid dense clouds of stage smoke, and elsewhere in the case and inserts we get to see one of Faust’s customised old cement mixers standing in a state of magnificent decay in the farmyard, the festival’s ticket office (a brightly painted wooden shack), and a large female pig named Lilli-Sau munching hay in her enclosure. Having perused all this, it’s no great surprise to find that the band’s

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Faust vs Dälek – Derbe Respect, Alder

Label: Staubgold/Klangbad format: CD

Derbe Respect, Alder - sleeveIt would be difficult to predict the outcome of a collaboration between two such disparate musical outfits as these. I mean Hip-Hop and Krautrock, or whatever category Faust‘s music falls into these days, don’t suggest themselves immediately as likely partners. Or perhaps that’s just my perception. Whatever preconceptions I may have had the resultant recording has blown them away, this really is a natural sounding and productive union. In any case collaborations have been a predominant feature of Faust releases for a while. We’ve had the soundtrack to Murnau‘s silent Nosferatu, the Ravvivando remixes and live work with Ingo Vauk. Whilst I never really thought the live venture with film worked well at least the music it spawned sounded astonishing. So some collaborations are more successful than others. Now this meeting of our ‘elder’ German noisemeisters

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Faust and Dälek – Nummer 3

Label: Bomb Mitte Format: 7″

Faust and Dälek - Nummer 3The first Faust record I owned was on vinyl and now they have another release on the shiny black stuff. This time its a limited edition 7-inch collaboration with Dälek and is a taster of an album which will appear later this year. Collaborations appear to be part of the current Faust direction and it would seem to be a productive area to explore.

Given the relative brevity of the two sides its difficult to see what the larger picture of this merger of two fairly disparate units will look like. But from listening to this small sample it looks as though it will be a creative coalition. On Part 1 there are some characteristic Industrial grindings going on around the distorted anger of Will Brooks‘ rapping. There is a strong sense

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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

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Faust – Freispiel

Label: Klangbad Format: CD,LP

Freispiel - sleeve detailIf any band is ripe for some re-mixing, it is Faust. The elements that combine to form their music have already been through a process involving a stripping down, transformation and reformation both in the studio and in ‘live’ performance. To offer these elements to those who are influenced by and in sympathy with Faust’s working methods seems an ideal situation for both translation and homage.

These remixes of some of the 1999 CD Ravvivando do revitalise an already powerful album and each remixer offers an idiosyncratic take which, in most cases, enhances the original. For example, there are three versions of “T-Electronique” and all show an affinity with the original whilst delivering something fresh. Mathias Schaffhauser‘s remix opens the album with a sinuous bass groove stretching the rhythm and shifting the textures of the percussion. It

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Faust (live at The Royal Festival Hall)

An angle, grinding London 12 October 2001

ZappiGiven that this appearance by Faust marks both their 100th live performance since the group’s reformation in 1993 and possibly their final show, it’s somehow appropriate that the emergency services soon became involved once again.

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Various Artists – Fluorescent Tunnelvision

Label: Submergence Format: 2CD

Flourescent Tunnelvision - sleeve detailThe psychedelic rock freak out is not dead, despite rumours to the contrary, and Flourescent Tunnelvision is here to prove the point, ramming home on a coasting scrawl of fuzz, wah, delay and phasers set to half-past stun; the amps probably go a long way over eleven, too. The full benefit of this collection is naturally to be gained at the maximum volume the speakers and neighbours will bear, conjuring up wind tunnel audio effects across the stereo spectrum – as a good proportion of the tracks do in spades. The rest of the bands here do their best to blow minds through other methods for a pastime, and whatever the approach, the results are generally trippy in several senses of the word.

Circle blast off first with the controlled groove of “Veisti” which has

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Faust Wakes Nosferatu

Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre, London 25th October 2000

Faust were originally asked to improvise a live score to F.W. Murnau‘s classic expressionist retelling of the Dracula story for an outdoor vampire film festival in Germany a few years back. For some reason the promotors asked them to perform to the silent film twice on the same bill; the generators failed, rain loomed, disaster threatened. Still, they survived the experience, recorded an album as Faust Wakes Nosferatu, and made a few more performances as time allowed. Now, as the last of the Outro series marking the departure of David Sefton from the artistic helm of the South Bank Centre, Faust open the first night of their gruelling UK tour of the show in the Royal Festival Hall.

Bringing up the introduction to the film itself, the band settle into a warming-up routing of metal percussion, organ swarms, plucked and

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