Faust IV Review

Gerald Hammill

Other Music, Jul 2006

Thanks to Robert Jaz for finding this review.

I'm sure many of you reading this already own a copy of Faust's legendary fourth album; suffice to say this newly re-mastered reissue sounds far superior, reason alone for picking it up, not to mention the bonus disc. Originally released in 1974, Faust IV would be the German avant-rockers' last proper album for almost two decades. Though only releasing a handful of records over the course of four years, they would leave an indelible impression on music. Faust's adventurous studio explorations - from music improvisations to their experiments with tape collage and electronics - would go on to influence generations of musicians to come (e.g. the Fall, 23 Skidoo, Nurse With Wound, Stereolab, Olivia Tremor Control, Liars, etc.).

Compared to their earlier works, Faust IV is somewhat tempered, especially considering the cut-n-paste mayhem of its predecessor, Faust Tapes , but it's far from a straight-ahead record. The 12-minute instrumental opening track Krautrock is as sprawling as the title implies (surely the group was taking a playful piss on contemporaries like Can and Neu!), while Just a Second unexpectedly turns a bluesy, stoner rock jam into a strange, musique concr̬te-influenced workout - think Black Sabbath meets Ash Ra Tempel meets Luc Ferrari. In contrast, the The Sad Skinhead is given a Teutonic reggae workout, seemingly plotting a course which post-punk bands like Scritti Politi would follow a half-a-decade later, and I wouldn't be surprised to find the Beta Band citing the whimsical It's a Bit of a Pain as an inspiration for any number of songs from their Three EPs era. And I haven't even touched upon Giggy Smile yet, but let's just say that its rollicking Zappa/Beefheart-esque and proggy Canterbury-styled jamming effortlessly twists through jazzy interludes, and is a Faust masterpiece.

Those of you who bought the Wumme Years box set a LURCHER back will find the overlapping Peel Session tracks Lurcher, Krautrock, and Do So a bit of a redux, but there are also several great alternate mixes including an extended version of Just a Second as well as the ambient Piano Piece, which never made the initial cut. Needless to say, Faust IV is an absolute touchstone in '70s German experimental rock (ahem - Krautrock), and still, in the year 2006, sounds ahead of its time.

Gerald Hammill, "Faust IV Review", Other Music 2006, © Other Music

ref: Other Music