Rock Aktion Party : Faust at the Garage 1st-2nd Dec 1996

Andy Wilson

The Faust Pages, 2 Dec 1996

There exists a bootleg recording of this concert, and also an official release available on cassette.

Faust played two nights at the Garage earlier this month. The first night, Sunday 1st December, was amazing anyway - lots of old and new music, Jean Hervé got naked to action-paint the sleeves of the Peel Sessions on sale that night, and an amazing sculpture was built in metal front of the stage, with grinders and torches adding to the overall sound.

But if Sunday was brilliant, Monday night was something else again. The first amazing thing about the night was that the best music was from the new album, you know faUSt - I hadn't heard the tracks before that night Zappi, Jean-Hervé and Jochenso I don't know all the titles, but watch out for Hurricane, Liebeswehen, Na Sowas and, a sort of updated Krautrock, Teutonentango.

If you are thinking of seeing Faust, or buying their new record, for reasons merely of loyalty, curiosity or nostalgia then forget about it - on Monday they showed that they are still right up there with anyone making music today. As you might expect with Faust, the sound shifted and changed throught the night. Jean Hervé read a Max Ernst poem, and there were AMM-moments of pure, sculpted noise. But the best of the night came with the new tracks, and here the sound fell somewhere into a space triangulated by Caspar Brotzman, Sonic Youth, and Jimi Hendrix. I know that the LMC were recording the Sunday show (plus I counted at least 5 people making videos), but if they recorded Monday too then everyone out there is in for a real treat.

I bought my first Faust record in the late 70's, and in all that time I had never seen them live. I expected confusion, mixed parts of enmity, abuse and adulation from the audience. Instead, by the end of the night people were just baying for more. Having heard Faust live I can only say that, as much as I love them, their records have rarely done them justice (the exceptions might be the first LP, It's a Rainy Day, Mamie is Blue, Jennifer, Picnic on a Frozen River, maybe a few other things, some of the Party Tapes, perhaps). Certainly, the Table of the Elements CD's fail to capture anything like the experience. One of the highpoints of the night was Steven Wray Lobdell on guitar, playing sheets of flanged noise across the rest of the sound (I don't know if Lobdell is only playing the concerts - he certainly isn't on the new CD), I hope he gets to play more in future.

The long and short of it is that Faust, twenty odd years down the line, are every bit as contemporary as they ever were. All those new groups you love, generally getting far more attention than these old hands, have alot of catching up to do. Thanks to Jean Hervé, Zappi, Joachim and Steven for, what was for me, the highpoint of twenty five years of listening to music.

Andy Wilson, "Rock Aktion Party", The Faust Pages 1996