Faust IV Review

Dominique Leone

Ground and Sky, 2003

Faust's final proper release of the 70s finds the band streamlining their sound a bit, though retaining thier maverick spirit. Today, Faust IV is a favorite of many Faust fans, but at the time it was seen as major step downwards from the frenetic whimsy of the band's early releases. The album largely eschews the cut-and-paste aesthetic of Tapes for a kind of off-center pop sensibility. This isn't exactly radio fare, but is doubtlessly less likely to drive your straight roommate insane than the earlier stuff.

Krautrock is a churning, tumbling trance rock honoring the term that was henceforth applied (with gross generalization) to a wave of experimental German bands from the early and mid-70s. This one clocks in at around 12 minutes, and mines similar territory as countrymen Can, with washes of electronic sound thrown into a rhythmic blender, set to a repetitive spin cycle. However, this isn't quite the ambient funk of the other band, but rather a boisterous, almost punkish rock mantra. Julian Cope calls it 'fuzzy', and that about sums it up.

Picnic on a Frozen River, Deuxieme Tableaux is actually Giggy Smile, mistitled on the CD jacket. Faux-blues shuffle that is very reminiscent of early Zappa - almost sincerely jamming down to some pretty ridiculous lyrics. Is it a parody? Can they really play? Do they really want to be Germany's ZZ Top? Anyways, midway through, the whole thing turns into a bouncy, synth-led pop vamp for no other reason than to show you they're still Faust.

The group abandoned their fabled schoolhouse in Wümme for the major league treatment at Virgin's Manor Studios. Ironically, the quality of the recording is affected very little. It could be that the reaction to this record at the time of its release was due as much to a perceived loss of credibility than to any compromise of the band's sound.

Dominique Leone, "Faust IV Review", Ground and Sky 2003

ref: Ground and Sky