Sunday, September 18, 2011

Faust - Faust (1970)

It starts with strands of different well known pop songs, continues with random German shouting, a pianist warming up, then being thrown headfirst into a marching band in hell. There's skeletons banging drums, devils playing chiptunes on keyboards, before it all stops and ghosts start chanting backwards. Then it's back to the marching, only now being led by a saxophone. There are spaceships taking off and landing in the background, and a ridiculously catchy kazoo riff, and half-sung nonsensical verses.

As the marching band passes into the distance, the only sound is the spaceships. And the pianist, with a short bit of playing. The marching band is back momentarily! But it too fades into the background.

I have described the first song on Faust's self titled album, Why Don't You Eat Carrots? One of the more insane bands to come out of the early Krautrock scene (which is saying a lot, noting some of the other bands around then), Faust started their trek with this album. It's best described as a sound collage; it's lots of random noises stuck together into songs.

It sounds awful, but it is far from it. Songs change on a whim, there will be chanting over banjos and harmonicas that will abruptly turn into intense guitar solos that turn into storm noises and church bells, like what happens in Meadow Meal. It's almost an anti-boredom album, as Faust never settles in one areas for any length of time, and even so, those short snippets of sound are extremely memorable.

Faust is also quite short at 34 minutes, half being taken up by the last song Miss Fortune, a maelstrom of guitar wah-wahs and unintelligible wails that disintegrates into squeaks and growling noises, before a strange emotive speech at the end of the song over acoustic guitar, as male voices alternate the words.

Faust is experimental to the extreme, but somehow still manages to infuse a lot of humour, great instrumental pieces, and above all, manages to stay musical interesting over the whole album. It takes a while to get used to, but Faust will worm into your head and reside there for several days if given the chance.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pond - Psychedelic Mango (2009)

Psychedelic Mango by Pond is truly psychedelic in every since of the word. It's filled with ultra-feedbacky guitars, repetitive basslines, and lots of weird chanting. This is a good thing.

I found this CD by scouring an album shop nearby, and the friend I was with said they were from Perth, my city, and he heard it was strange, which was enough for me. From what I can scour online, they look like a bunch of young people that all like the 60's and 70's psychedelic scene, and want to recreate it through their music. And they did.

The album opens with Bees, a good indication of where we are headed. It spasms around, before disintegrating into feedback. I will say this, Psychedelic Mango is extremely experimental, and when they manage to reign it in, they produce a far better experience. Also, I'm sure they are fans of Black Sabbath (like everyone else ever), but there is no need for a noisy ripoff of one of their riffs with Gringolet's Drunken Baggage.

I guess that's the main problem with this release; it's supposed to be a throwback, but with modern touches. And it is, but it seems to go by the formula 'add noise remove melody' for a fair chunk of the album. Even outside of that, it's random jamming. And only truly skilled musicians can pull that off with consistency.

It sounds like I hate this album, but I do not. There are two great songs here; Don't Look At the Sun or You'll Go Blind with it's blistering guitars and hypnotic bass, and Psychedelic Mango Vision with almost funk-like properties before it once again devolves into noises, but with a cool spacey exit. Paisley Adams is amusing enough also, a bizarre take on the David Bowie glam rock of the early 70's.

If they had been able to reign it in and stop the random dissonance from creeping in, this album could have been so much better. I would like to hear their newer stuff though, as they are somewhat promising.