Faust Concerts 1 / 2

The Wire, Oct 1994

Faust's first concert in the UK for nearly 20 years took place at London's Marquee in 1992. Some of the show is on the second volume of these limited edition CD releases, and it's an accurate documentation of their tentative approach that night. A snatch of taped saxes, a bit of talking, some clanking metal - they were in no hurry to make an impact. When the set got underway, the stops were occasionally pulled out for a jackhammer onslaught which brought a new slant to musique concrète and drove those who were expecting a wide-screen version of 'Krautrock' back to the bar.

The CD is fascinating, although the band often wander into frustratingly vague territories with their skeletal improvisations. But Faust always were the most wilfully idiosyncratic of the early 70's German rock groups and here they sound as out of time as ever, happy to bring a drum, a pile of scrap metal, a guitar or two and a bank of malfunctioning homemade keyboards along to make their sound. Stadtluft leads from a vocal mantra into a motorik riff with Johann (sic) Irmler's keyboards adding clouds of noise. Jean-Hervé Péron leaves the best until last, carving up his stage backdrops with a chainsaw. Nothing new nowadays, perhaps, but they did it first and it still sounds great. (The downside to all this is that the CD's are only available as expensive imports and this one sounds like an average bootleg recording.)

Volume One documents the group's first reunion gig at the Prinzebar, Hamburg in 1990, and is better recorded, the sound more physical and the playing more concentrated, with recognisable sounds from their back catalogue. As on Volume Two, Irmler is ultra-low profile, inaudible for long periods and then popping up to play, for example, a long taped segment from Goréki's "Third Symphony" over an improvisation. That may be a statement of sorts but it sounds too easy. A lot of what's produced here sounds like rough sketches; but even now no one scribbles them quite like Faust.

"Faust Concerts 1 / 2", The Wire 1994, © The Wire

ref: The Wire