Faust – IV

The strange saga of Faust continues and finds out heroes signed to Virgin Records and over in England record at the Manor Studio (not an idle name, it really was a big Manor with a studio in it. It’s now the home of the Marquess of Headfort). Taken away from the incubation chamber of Wumme the results are actually remarkable.The snarkily titled opener “Krautrock” is an astonishingly extended moody drone jam. Previously recorded for a John Peel session it’s the fuzziest rock jam they ever recorded. The way it suddenly gives way to a yell and the oompah-ska of “The Sad Skinhead” with it’s jaunty xylophone sounds is one of the greatest switcheroos in music. Side one ends with “Jennifer” a pastoral ballad with a dubby rhythm and proto-shoegaze guitars twinkling fire. It climaxes with the most beautiful storm of feedback ever committed to record, like a blissful metal machine music followed by distant ragtime pianoOver on the flipside things kick off with the messily titled “Just a Second (Starts Like That!)/Picnic on a Frozen River, Deuxieme Tableaux” which begins as a psychedelic rock jam them segues into a cosmic electronic drip. Then people begin playing randomly over it like intergalactic savages.”Giggy Smile” kicks in a very motoric beat like we’re hearing another band for a moment but the wild, urgent vocals tell us we are in the Faust realm and then the sax makes it sound like a dual between Zappa and Sun Ra. The bass is just out of the world, driving the whole thing further and suddenly there’s some heavy guitar… and then a delirious keyboard riff like some old forgotten folk tune sped up.Läuft…Heisst Das Es Läuft Oder Es Kommt Bald….Läuft” is one of my favorites, an effervescent waltz through strange summers, a beautiful beat and some haunting melodies, a future ghost in a field, a midsummer procession through digital trees and a giant guitar flying overhead like a military jet.The album then ends with “It’s A Bit Of A Pain” a previously released single in Germany as they didn’t really have enough material for a new album but it makes perfect sense. The summer pop hit thrown through the Faust filter. You can sing along and hold your arms in the air but it also has the sound of boiling daleks, a guitar solo distorted into another universe and enough hashish to create a giant nebula. It’s like they’re reaching for that hit but the freak flag flies in the way. It’s also the blueprint for a thousand American wannabes.As Virgin Records got bought out and the former super labels have little to do but revisit their former glories, this \received a 2 CD reissue on EMI of all places. The bonus CD has their Peel Session, alternative takes of album tracks and an unreleased song called “Piano Piece”. Most of the alternative versions aren’t really that different but it is nice to see so great an album justly celebrated. The peel sessions had already been released by Recommended Records so while they’re great, they’re not new to the faithful. There’s the extended version of the rock jam used for the start of “Just A Second” taken from one and a half minutes to ten. Nice to hear them jamming out for so long but it’s not exactly essential. If you have a decent copy on vinyl then you don’t have to worry too much about this.

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