Patchwork Review

Chris Jones

BBC Online, 18 Nov 2002

Faust were always ahead of the game. Like all the greats in the avant rock fraternity, they came complete with weird tales aplenty. Not least being writer/manager/producer Uwe Nettlebeck's success in getting the band carte blanche with Polydor in 1971 (their own studio in Wümme, engineer and a year to come up with an album) and the fact that The Faust Tapes, retailed by a fledgling Virgin label at 49 pence, has to be a contender for the most widely heard piece of musique concrete, excepting the Beatles Revolution #9.

Faust's working methods underpinned a breathtakingly fecund environment where pleasure was found in juxtaposition, distortion and naivety. Remember, these guys coined the term Krautrock, and rarely has improvisation been such an integral part of a band's raison d'etre. Yet don't be misled, none of this comes across as amateurish. It sounds as deliberate as one of Kylie's middle eights and you can't help but be struck by how listenable it all is.

So here are 20 reasons why these wayward Teutonic knights of knoise still remain essential. True to form (and similar in construction to the aforementioned Faust Tapes) Patchwork collects material from every Faustian period. In combining snippets from the early Wümme years, the Virgin Manor period and all subsequent projects, long-serving member Hans Joachim Irmler has honoured all criteria for a trip to the planet formerly known as Far Out.

Nothing is sacred; everything is divine. No track hangs around for longer than 4 minutes (though somehow you know they're undoubtedly continuing to this day in some parallel dimension). Even a song such as Duo, squeezing profundity from two chords resists the term minimalist by sounding unequivocally like a Faust recording. Much of this is down to the rough but polished engineering by ex-Deutsche Grammophon engineer Kurt Graupner and his legendary little black boxes. Instrumentation loses definition through studio alchemy to the point where Ironies sounds like the original horns tearing the walls of Jericho apart, molecule by molecule. But who can say what's really being played here? Points of recognition only occur in places where old material resurfaces, as on Stretch Over All Times which features the old chestnut It's A Rainy Day.

All styles are served here. A delicate piano mutates into free jazz territory on Jassie, yet comparisons are odious. Nervous gives Detroit garageland a run for its money but Patchwork is best heard as a fabulous whole. Like some reliable DIY krautrock fix-all, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Patched together from one of musical history's most thrilling cornucopias of taped sound; this Faust is truly a piece of work.

Chris Jones, "Patchwork Review", BBC Online 2002

ref: BBC Online

ref: BBC: Patchwork