David Illic

The Wire, Feb 1996

Review in The Wire #144

Rien : Table of the Elements 24 CD

The packaging for Faust's first fully-fledged studio recordings since reforming five years ago is artfully cryptic: no credits save for those on a spine card and a business card carrying the tell-tale x-ray motif (both easily lost!), and the album title is burnished grey on the matt silver CD. With Rien, Faust, the German avant-rock legend of the 70s whose savage Rienelectroacoustic forays helped sharpen Euro-rocks cutting edge and paved the way for post-punk experimentalists, 80s Industrialists and 90s Ambient artists around the globe, have rediscovered the mystique that was an essential part of their creative being; a Dadaist bent that manifested itself in both performance and packaging alike. (Remember that intriguing transparent package that was their debut album?)

Anyone listening to the raw documentary footage of Faust's 1993 London comeback gigs (both rather ho-hum performances, if the truth be told) released as The Faust Concerts 1 & The Faust Concerts 2 (Table of The Elements), would have been hard pushed to discover what all the fuss was about. Never mind that the antics with jackhammers and chainsaws were now run of the mill fare; what irked was Faust's apparent air of nostalgic importance, something which ran counter to the searching, iconoclastic forays of yore.

Rien, however, is rattlingly contemporary, thanks to the production hand of Jim O'Rourke, who has taken the rudiments of Faust's adventurous spirit and transplanted it into a wholly modern context. The influence of this most exacting sound sculptor has effectively created something akin to a dialogue between the contrasting experimental apparel of 70s Prog rock and 90s purveyors of the Ambient aesthetic There are Industrial mantras of almost crushing intensity, neo-psychedelic jams, concrete interludes, even a passage of bitter-sweet irony in the plundering of Gorecki's Third Symphony (the additional chorale of Industrial noise serving only to heighten the tragic air of Gorecki's original) This is Faust resharpened and revitalised; no longer part of rock's dinosaur parade, but a reshaped, refreshing, challenging voice in 90s experimentalism.

David Illic, "Rien", The Wire 1996, © The Wire

ref: The Wire Archive

ref: The Wire