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.

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