The Faust Tapes

Ian MacDonald

NME, 1973

More unorthodoxies from the Faust people. This time around it's a holding-operation - Faust Volume Two-and-a-half, an album of material recorded informally and originally intended only for the pleasure of the group and their friends. They used to refer to it as The Faust Party Tapes; now, with British audiences curious to discover more about why they make those funny noises, it's become The Faust Tapes and Virgin are offering it to us for the price of a single.

Does that mean it's a load of rubbish? No way. For me, it's at least as good as So Far and contains two or three passages that hark back to the group's main achievement, the first side of the transparent album - and that's very good. Newcomers will have to get used to the thin, sizzly sound of the band and to the eccentric concept of drums that Werner Dierrnaier propounds. Once that's assimilated they should begin to enjoy the songs (of which there are more than on either side of the official albums) and in particular the extended sonomontage "Finnish Autumn" which occupies the opening two-thirds of side Two. Here, various ideas are cut up and laid next to - sometimes over - each other: brooding piano chords plonk about in their own time under Zappa-style guitar in free-tempo and occasional bursts of regular rhythm from drums and bass; an unlikely interlude of ersatz electric Gil Evans follows with Jean-Hervé Péron giving a desultory impersonation of Miles Davis; then the sound of thunder and chimes and back comes the doodling guitar. It goes on like this for nearly fifteen minutes and I love it I tell you!

The Faust Tapes is a must if you want an offbeat chuckle and dont mind having your mind bent a little. For an album that was never meant for general release it's excellent - and for 48p it's ridiculous.

Ian MacDonald, "The Faust Tapes", NME 1973, © New Musical Express