Patchwork Sleevenotes


Klangbad, Oct 2002

"Six months of preparation for a musical experiment and the result is a disaster - for the musicians, naturally. Deutsch Grammaphon got out of it ok. They will refund their investments from advertising and development budgets and so the whole adventure will soon be headlined 'once upon a time...' Uwe Nettelbeck, Faust's 'spiritual father', has neglected his a-musical children - children, who thought they could play the game of the entertainment business and didn't realise that the business played with them." (Walter Adler, 'Gallerie der Entertainer', WDR television, 1971)

Walter Adler's devastating judgement of Faust's live debut (which, compared to the standards of the day, was indeed disastrous - the technology broke down completely) bears witness to the hostility which the group has received in Germany since it's formation. "After a lousy album and much protection on the part of their 'patrons' and their record company, astonishingly they still mustered the courage to produce a second album which proved to be almost as dreadful as the first one," was the verdict the German 'Sounds' music magazine pronounced in their review of Faust's second album So Far (ironically, this album never did get a German release and was only available as an import). Envy, malevolence but probably also a good deal of schadenfraude could have been the drive behind these reactions, since journalist Uwe Nettelbeck, the band's mentor and manager, had closed a sensational deal, which guaranteed Faust a high advance payment plus a complete studio including custom-made equipment for ca. 300,000 Deutschmarks. That they did not deliver an 'acceptable' musical equivalent in answer to these dream-like production circumstances was just too much for many. Faust declined to fulfil the hopes and expectations, that people put in them. The above mentioned concert at the Musichalle in Hamburg was just an extreme example of that attitude.

"We've always liked the idea of releasing records which lacked conventional 'finish' in terms of production... the music should sound like bootlegs, as if recorded by someone who passed a group rehearsing or jamming and then cut the recorded material wildly together." (Uwe Nettelbeck in a statement for the New Musical Express, 1972).

When Richard Branson's newly-founded Virgin label release The Faust Tapes in 1973, listeners for the first time got a true impression of the group's actual potential and what had happened in Wümme musically. In their rural isolation, where the only focus was on themselves, the group went through a complex process of internal structuring and restructuring. Communal living and working had been inseperable for almost three years. During the recording sessions (which were often conducted at night), the band's sound engineer Kurt Graupner had recorded several hundred hours of music. The Faust Tapes were nothing more and nothing less than a hastily compiled sampler drawn from this vast archive of tapes. This was the most 'intentionless' release of the group so far (excuse the pun), and it bore witness of how simultaneously radical and fragile the process of experimentation the group had initiated was. For the first time it became clear that Faust had to be seen not so much as a band but as a process, their music as an incessant flow of form, which could only partly be confined within the borders of an album. Or, as Julian Cope put it: "It was their persistence in the entirety of their trip that makes them so legendary now."

The marketing strategem the up-and-coming Virgin manager Richard Branson had devised to launch Faust (and with it Virgin) fully paid off: The album, available at a dumping price of 49 pence, sold 100,000 copies and led Faust to the top ten of the British album charts. The public was impressed: "The Faust Tapes was the social phenomenon of 1973", wrote Cope in his Krautrocksampler.

But Faust were not able to enjoy the soothing recognition of their music in 'the mother country of pop' for long. A short time before the release of their follow-up Faust IV in 1973, the band fell out with Uwe Nettelbeck who, under pressure from Branson, had sanctioned the semi-finished album for release without asking the band's consent. As a result, Nettelbeck threw in the towel and the band underwent a slow process of fragmentation, during which the individual members returned to Germany one after the other. In 1975, Faust tried one last time to conjure up the spirit of Wümme. During a fortnight of intensive recording at Giorgio Moroder's Musicland studios in Münich, they created their fifth album, Munic and Elsewhere. But Virgin refused to publish the album and so the band was stuck with the costs for the recording. End of first chapter, or: That was the seventies.

At the beginning of the eighties, core members Werner Diermaier, Hans Joachim Irmler and Jean-Hervé Péron picked up the thread again in a little chamber in Helmstorf near Hamburg. It took a while until the machine was running smoothly again, but the spirit of Faust was still there; its members still enjoyed this musical and social experiment. The urge to push the boundaries led to the involvement of younger musicians with the by now remaining original members Irmler and Diermaier.

"In the midst of Faust-muzik time ticks like a bomb." (excerpt from Faust's 1973 tour program).

Like The Faust Tapes, Patchwork documents the flow of Faust's music. But this album is not confined to the usual three years, but stretches over the entirety of Faust's history, from 1971 to 2002. A collage from recordings of all periods discloses the creative energy within Faust. This energy has led them to take in all musical genres like Beat, Free Jazz, Folk and, naturally, Krautrock, digest them and put them together in a unique combination.

Stretch Over All Times quotes thirty years of Faust in less than two minutes. Drums, sounds, piano snippets; their 'hit' It's a Rainy Day even gallops past our ears twice. A longterm snapshot. This is followed by an extract from A Seventies Event, better known as Krautrock from Faust IV. Rittersleut und anderes stems from one of those typical early Wümme sessions. zer:aus comes from the same sessions and documents the band's naive probing of the effects of extreme distortion. Psalter and Stretch Out are familiar tracks in unknown arrangements, while Out of Our Prison weaves almost all recordings from the sessions at Virgin's Manor Studios into a miniature patchwork.

Time, places and individuals dissolve in this 'patchwork'. What remains is Faust.

Faust, "Patchwork Sleevenotes", Klangbad 2002

ref: Staubgold