Faust IV Original recording remastered, Import
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|5. The Sad Skinhead|
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|8. Lauft...Heisst Das Es Lauft Oder Es Kommt Bald..Lauft|
|9. Giggy Smile|
Faust were a part of the genre known as Krautrock: progressive, avant-garde proto-electronica from Germany whose other proponents included Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk. Producer/overseer Uwe Nettelbeck, a onetime music journalist, formed Faust in Wumme, Germany, in 1971 with founding members Hans Joachim Irmler (also one half of Cluster), Jean Herv Peron, Werner "Zappi" Diermaier, Rudolf Sosna, Gunther Wusthoff, and Armulf Meifert. Faust IV was originally released in 1973 and is a favourite of many Faust fans. This release features the remastered album on CD1 with a second disc containing Peel Sessions and previously unreleased tracks. EMI. 2006.
When this Krautrock masterpiece (the 12-minute piece that coined the term is featured here) came out in 1973, there were those at Virgin who thought they might have a hit on their hands, what with Tubular Bells blowing up and Can's "I Want More" right around the corner. Not bloody likely, as it was too experimental for the masses, and not wanky enough for the Camel/ELP crew. The off-center reggae-ish rhythms that would become prevalent in experi-pop are in high supply here (although Faust was always less funky than Can), as well as an affecting minimalist acoustic piece, "Giggy Smile," which would become their trademark. Marginally more commercial than their other releases, here is where the Terry Riley/Lee Perry horse that so many post-Stereolab bands ride came in from. --D. Strauss --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Some years later, after very fine CD reissues that reproduced the iconic clear cover of their first, and the black art portfolio of "So Far" followed by several iterations of "Tapes" we have a definitive edition of "IV". And while this release demonstrates that you can improve on sound it also demonstrates that there's simply no improving music that is already perfect. The sound here is more clinical than the LP or earlier CD versions. In many ways the clarity of the re-mastering work is interesting. But you have to remember how big a role accident and imperfection -- as well as recognizing the recording process -- played in Faust's approach to music. Like the sometimes similar and equally brilliant This Heat, if it was worthwhile material it didn't seem to matter that it was captured on a little cassette deck or through a busted microphone: the imperfections created by marginal gear and equipment as well as the very character of the recording devices themselves became as integral an element of each piece as any instrument: "Leci n'est pas une pipe".
So "better" here must be viewed as a relative term. I'd settle for "different" and pretty much leave it at that. The additional tracks are all worth inclusion -- no real dross, though you may find the differences between some alternatives and their "official" versions to be sometimes rather slight. Still, why argue when those previously unheard pieces can now be heard? Add informative and intelligent liner notes to restored cover art and it's clearly an essential release to any collection already embracing Faust.
As for the music, this recording is very nearly the epitome of an era in which popular forms were stretched to past the breaking point by ideas about process and the elevation of the music studio as a participant -- rather than mere witness -- in the compositional process. Not just Sergeant Pepper's speed and direction tricks, but actual instrument-like levels of sound creation. No pun intended, but Faust very nearly single-handedly defined an aesthetic that even in retrospect remains profoundly individual and even iconoclastic within much of its contemporary milieu. Yet it still offers a sense of accessibility that much art rock remains incapable of to this day. From withholding the drums until you think "Krautrock" simply must not, can not be rock, until the "Sad Skinhead" wipes his tears and blows his nose and the drill finally gives you your very own bit of eardrum buzz pain, Faust closed their Virgin years with a brilliant, at moments tongue-in-cheek, at moments deliriously serious and amazing record. Re-master it all you want, it will never sound old.
"Krautrock" sounds like an exquisite extended drone session with its thick wall of synths punctuated by short bursts from other musical sources. This one in particular may take time to fully appreciate. A precursor to Industrial. Caution: trance inducing.
I think "The Sad Skinhead" and "Jennifer" in particular had an influence on New Wave and other bands like Bauhaus and Radiohead. "Skinhead" is like a rather wierd and very European take on raggae (think the Clash but stranger) with vibes and other Faustian touches. "Jennifer" sounds like bouncing on clouds, walking through a lightning field and winding up in an empty saloon with a noodling honky-tonk piano player.
"Just a Second (Starts Like That!)" goes off the experimental deep end featuring what sounds like a mutant breed of electric water dragons mating.
"Picnic on a Frozen River, Deuxieme Tableux" starts off with different music from the original version (including great sax) that appeared on SO FAR, but that irritatingly catchy keyboard riff soon creeps in. The whole thing turns into a juicy excuse to add some crazy guitar work over the proceedings.
"Giggy Smile" is a great song built on acoustic guitar, a strident violin and unusual percussion.
"Lauft . . Heisst das es Lauft Oder es Kommt Bald . . Lauft" is a nice ambient piece, somewhat disrupted toward the end by the inclusion of a few more ominous synth tones.
"It's a Bit of a Pain" is another nice song with acoustic guitar, piano and a blast of white noise to accentuate the "pain." Finally, one of the most corrosive guitar solos ever recorded tops off the song and completes this amazing and highly enjoyable album.
the songs are incredibly diverse, and no two sound the same. the album opens with, 'krautrock,' an 11-minute instrumental composed of bizarre, beautiful atmospheres with spare percussion. it's indeed the song that named the whole movement, other bands being can and neu!(also brilliant to a lesser extent). the next song, 'the sad skinhead,' starts off as dub-reggae, but goes into a bouncy, fun pop song. it's the next song though, 'jennifer,' that is the best song on the album. it's so beautiful! the guitar part is small and subtle, but really complements the drone drumming and the monotone lyrics about a girl whose hair is on fire. great stuff!! my other favorite songs are the funky 'just a second (starts like that),' and the stark, folk-y, 'it's a bit of pain,' although the album is best heard as a whole. it's all very overwhelming. at one moment there is tuneful bliss and at the next theres screaming feedback and samples. but in some amazing, impossible way, it's one of the most accesible album's i've ever heard.