We're Just Trying To Be Here Now

Ian MacDonald

NME, Mar 1973

This piece was followed later in the year by another review by MacDonald

As the current Faust tour of Britain rambles erratically to a conclusion, one has to own up that, far from progressively clarifying themselves and their music to their audience, Faust breed confusion and controversy wherever they go.

But that's only natural. Faust are, in a sense, professional confusers - both of their listeners and of themselves. They thrive on not knowing what they're doing. They don't lead the way so much as stumble on something new and then chase after it, tripping over each other's imaginations.

If they catch the idea they quickly get bored with it. If it outruns them and disappears over the horizon, they're left milling about in Faust in Covent Garden, London, 1972: Jean, Peter Blegvad, Zappi, Gunther, Uli Trepteunmapped country and sometimes solve the situation by going to sleep until the official cartographer turns up.

Thus, their recent appearance at London's Rainbow started out strongly, striding swiftly through the areas Faust have previously explored into new peripheral lands for the existence of which the listener must sometimes accept only the group's word.

Then, about a quarter of an hour in, the general concensus appeared to be that they needed more sandwiches or graph paper or whatever. and the charactenstic Faustian sit-down ensued.

Considering that Faust are visiting the frontiers far more frequently than most, it seems churlish to chide them for the moments in which their imagination gets tired. However, a rock audience at the very least wants to enjoy itself - and, in any case, even the front-runners of the avant-garde owe some responsihility to coherence and communication.

Jean-Hervé Péron, bass / trumpet / vocals / pinball machine, has been listening to all this and would like to interject. "What is this avant-garde? We're not avant-garde. We're not trying to be ahead, to be beyond our time. We're just trying to be here now." Or, in the time-honoured words of experimental composer Edgar Varese - "An artist is never ahead of his time, it is his audience who are behind theirs." Possibly a fairer picture of the situation but in this context too close to word-play to be illuminating.

Jean again: "We're not conscious experimenters. We simply try to reflect our group dynamism. The way we live. Because we're very confused people and we've lived in a very confused situation since the group started.

You see, we were cloistered away at Wümme, put outside the world for two years. And then the tours also have been very strange. So confusion reigns."

There follows a long speech in German from Hans-Joachim Irmler. keyboards/synthesizer, the gist of which is that he'd prefer "live" playing to reflect his temperament, i.e., a few fast freaky gigs followed by a long period of lethargy.....

Ian MacDonald, "We're Just Trying To Be Here Now", NME 1973, © New Musical Express