Munic Pop Thrill : Mephisto Calling

Biba Kopf

NME, Jan 1987

review of Munic & Elsewhere

Good news - Faust are back. Released from a devil's pact with silence, they're noisily celebrating the repossession of their souls. A new LP Return of a Legend: Munic & Elsewhere commemorates their comeback.

Featuring material recorded before and after their 10 year disappearance it proves to be as ageless as the Faust legend itself. Their music is as restless as it ever was. Nomadic in their defiance of borders on time and space, their mostly improvised pieces move like sandstorm drifts across the broad span of rock. They occasionally settle on a familiar landmark, only to distort or blanket its shape completely under wave upon wave of crackling electronics and treated guitar.

Their ever shifting moods confirm their nomadic character. Single-mindedly devoted to ruthiess rhythm one moment, spacier than the spaciest of their Krautrock contemporaries the next, they cross from serious to light, aggressive to sweet, noise to melody with the nonchalance of non-aligned travellers passing between two hostile states.

So Faust are back and they're on the other end of the phone line to say why they left in the first place. Five Germans from that exemplary generation of '68, they formed Faust in '71 in response to seeing the spirit of freedom's first flush. "That was a very good feeling, that sense of freedom you had after '68," recalls Jean-Hervé Péron, speaking from Hamburg. "But in a way freedom can be exhausting. It can be very hard to be left alone, making your own decisions. After a while people (in Germany) got tired of this feeling. No one wanted to create their own values any more. After '73 it was easier to be guided thar to think for yourself."

"Something I heard Foreign Minister Genscher say on TV summed it up," adds Joachim Irmler. "He said, 'we have everything in the hand now'. Evrything's under control."

Resisting the accelerating middleground spread, Faust pitched tents at the outskirts of rock. Somewhere near Münich they set up a commune, began doing things their way. Their way was difference. A first record came out in a transparent sleeve, starkly adorned with an X Ray fist. Contracts with Virgin and Polydor followed. Inevitably they were frozen out by rock's merger with big business.

Herr Irmler: "It's a big problem making money and music. Virgin were interested in making money. On the other side we did not like to be directed. So we decided to quit that job, let things go for a while." Upon giving notice they threatened to return 10 years hence and they've made good their promise. They re-enter a world further shrunken by small-minded business thinking. Escape it with Faust's nomadic solution. "Music has to open you, stimulate you. Most modern music likes to bottle or box you. We never like to see people in a box," concludes Herr Imler.

Biba Kopf, "Munic Pop Thrill", NME 1987, © New Musical Express