Faust IV Reissue

Jennifer Hor

Sound Projector, Jan 2005

Thanks to Jim Donnelly for scanning this review

Black sheep in an otherwise distinguished lineage this album may be (yeah - but only if you don't bother to listen to it - ed), and many tracks admittedly aren't good, but this last original Faust 70s recording has survived the ravages of time pretty well compared to some of its 1973 contemporaries - I mean, apart from tragic UK music monthlies like Q and Mojo, who remembers that Tubular Bells recording (Well I do I suppose, since I mentioned it.) And after three albums which many consider landmarks in the history of experimental rock / pop, Faust were entitled to, er, relax and have a bit of fun with the fourth - advice they apparently took too much to heart, since it was probably during the Faust lV recording sessions that they spent a night in the slammer for running up a debt. Some of that carefree spirit breezes through this album which is lacking in more recent releases and reissues, some of which also carry the stench of someone trying to cash in on the Faust reputation.

Without a doubt, the highlight is Krautrock, certainly the first and last and only word in combining shimmering guitar noise textures and a hypnotic rhythm and the track that, in the manner of Helen of Troy, launched a thousand careers in avant-garde music. Of the other pieces, the standard falls away - Jennifer has a hint of glorious showering guitar debauchery which ends all too quickly (I have heard Mike Morley's (Gate) version of this song by the way and apart from the honky-tonk piano coda I remember it as a mostly heavy-handed demolition job); Picnic on a Frozen River, Deuxieme Tableux, a reworking of a piece from Faust So Far, is a three-parter where the first movement is not bad, the second jazzy movement is good but the third movement (the reworked piece) disappoints due to a mundane guitar improvisation after we've just heard Krautrock and Jennifer; and Just a Second (Starts like That) is a stream-of-consciousness track that becomes quite unhinged with near-deranged piano and searing guitar blasts in the background amid other unsettling effects.

Missing from the CD is a lyric sheet and English language translations of the French lyrics on a couple of tracks which would have helped to gauge how much of Faust's preoccupation with the alienation of modern industrial life actually made it onto the record under Richard Branson's regime. (Virgin Records is well-named, that's for sure!)

The album points in a more commercially acceptable if slightly dissident direction (a path well-trodden by others) for Faust had they continued past 1975 and in that sense could be considered historically important despite its patchy quality. Those of you who already have The Wumme Years set and want TWO CDs with Krautrock (the track features on one disc in the set) are certainly welcome to Faust lV as are first-time visitors - a thousand more (hopefully good) careers in avant-garde music are certainly needed.

Jennifer Hor, "Faust IV Reissue", Sound Projector 2005