I'm sure many of you reading this already own a copy of Faust's
legendary fourth album; suffice to say this newly re-mastered
reissue sounds far superior, reason alone for picking it up, not
to mention the bonus disc. Originally released in 1974, Faust
IV would be the German avant-rockers' last proper album for
almost two decades. Though only releasing a handful of records
over the course of four years, they would leave an indelible impression
on music. Faust's adventurous studio explorations -- from music
improvisations to their experiments with tape collage and electronics
-- would go on to influence generations of musicians to come (e.g.
the Fall, 23 Skidoo, Nurse With Wound, Stereolab, Olivia Tremor
Control, Liars, etc.).
Compared to their earlier works, Faust IV is somewhat
tempered, especially considering the cut-n-paste mayhem of its
predecessor, Faust Tapes, but it's far from a straight-ahead
record. The 12-minute instrumental opening track "Krautrock"
is as sprawling as the title implies (surely the group was taking
a playful piss on contemporaries like Can and Neu!), while "Just
a Second" unexpectedly turns a bluesy, stoner rock jam into
a strange, musique concrète-influenced workout -- think
Black Sabbath meets Ash Ra Tempel meets Luc Ferrari. In contrast,
the "The Sad Skinhead" is given a Teutonic reggae workout,
seemingly plotting a course which post-punk bands like Scritti
Politi would follow a half-a-decade later, and I wouldn't be surprised
to find the Beta Band citing the whimsical "It's a Bit of
a Pain" as an inspiration for any number of songs from their
Three EPs-era. And I haven't even touched upon "Giggy
Smile" yet, but let's just say that its rollicking Zappa/Beefheart-esque
and proggy Canterbury-styled jamming effortlessly twists through
jazzy interludes, and is a Faust masterpiece.
Those of you who bought the Wumme Years box set a while
back will find the overlapping Peel Session tracks "Lurcher,"
"Krautrock," and "Do So" a bit of a redux,
but there are also several great alternate mixes including an
extended version of "Just a Second," as well as the
ambient "Piano Piece" which never made the initial cut.
Needless to say, Faust IV is an absolute touchstone in
'70s German experimental rock (ahem
Krautrock), and still,
in the year 2006, sounds ahead of its time. [GH]