Peter Marsh

BBC Music Online, Nov 2003

Hans Joachim Irmler has spent a fair proportion of the last thirty three years playing keyboards in the mighty Faust. As far as I know this is his first solo record, and in fact it's the only Faust related solo effort I know of. Maybe that's no surprise; Faust (despite their shifting lineups) have always been governed by a communal spirit, and one where it's hard (or even beside the point) to pick out individual contributions.

What characterised Faust was their approach to studio technology; building their own bits of equipment or abusing others, they created a fantastically rich and entirely original noise. Irmler's solo music shows a similar level of invention, though the results are much different.

This music was originally recorded for a museum exhibition which recreated the lives of Roman soldiers based in Germany around the dawn of the 1st century AD. Irmler's re-ordered and reworked the tracks, and describes the resulting album as a 'fictional aural biography'.

While there are moments that could come straight off Faust IV (check the dirty gobs of distorted organ on Trepido), most of Lifelike is a bit more like the more pastoral landscapes explored by Cluster or Hans Joachim Roedelius. Even at its most delicate, Irmler's music never descends to the level of mere prettiness; hushed, fragile piano figures are interrupted by what sounds like someone hammering on the hull of a spaceship. Dirty spumes of noise are flecked with distant whipcracks, while the sound of thunder threatens a gently meandering organ passage (shades of Faust here too).

It's a highly individual, warm, glowing soundworld, and Irmler stitches it all together with a grace and organic continuity that makes you feel like you're being told a story. Or maybe even a fictional aural biography. Beautiful.

Peter Marsh, "Lifelike", BBC Music Online 2003

ref: BBC Music Online