Review Summary: Daddy! Take the banana!! Tomorrow is sundaaaayyy!!! Eccentric Krautrockers Faust's "streamlined" second album.INTRODUCTION
It’s hard to describe what German 70’s Krautrockers Faust are all about in words to a person who’s never heard any of their output. You gotta listen to understand. But even if you do listen, you probably won’t understand anyway.
Take the Velvet Underground’s ugly distortion experiments, the primitive rhythms and burned-out ambience of German-American garage freaks The Monks and the chaos of early avant rockers like The Godz and throw in some one-chord piano figures, guitars that sound like they were recorded inside a trashcan and some of the most clunky, amateurish-sounding tape manipulations ever to grace human ears and you’re about halfway there. Sounds ***ing terrible, right? Well, it probably is, but I like it anyway.
Whereas the five-piece-plus-producer’s self-titled 1971 debut sounded more like a musique concrete sound collage with occasional bursts of what might be roughly described as “rock” music, their sophomore effort called Faust So Far (with a cover artwork bearing striking resemblance to the VU’s White Light/White Heat), recorded in 1972 again in their own studio in the rural village of Wümme with basically-part-of-the-band producer Uwe Nettelbeck, takes a more rhythmical, accessible and “rocking” approach to the whole thing. With all its thumping drums and wild, noisy guitar playing So Far sounds like a bit like heavier version the later, more well-known record Faust IV.
It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl kicks off the album with the most primitive thump-thump 4/4 drumbeat you can imagine, which is soon accompanied by a minimal two-chord pattern played on a piano and an obviously manipulated, garbled-sounding guitar. The vocals (lyrics consist mainly of the title phrase, plus some caveman-like “oaah!” grunts) sound extremely lethargic and give the whole thing a very depressed feel. A droning organ-sounding instrument finally adds some air into the song and makes for some otherworldly textures. There’s even some weird wind noises as well as a mouthharp (!!) and sax solo toward the end, but the song never steers away from its primitive drum/piano base.
This eccentric minimalism is heavily contrasted by track two, On The Way To Abamäe, a pretty-sounding acoustic guitar instrumental probably just put there by the Fausts to disorient and confuse you. Seriously, it sounds just like the acoustic intro to Metallica’s Fight Fire With Fire! Listen to it! Irritating, not much else.
The intro to the next song, the 10 minute No Harm, the clear album highlight, continues in a similar way, with some beautiful playing by organist Hans-Joachim Irmler and some military-like drumming by skinsman Werner “Zappi” Diermaier. After 2 minutes, the two are joined by Rudolf Sosna’s (surprisingly pretty) guitar and the whole thing sounds a lot like Pink Floyd for some time, until the guitar takes on a more familiar ragged sound, and drums and bass (accompanied by some indescribably odd percussion) play a solid rock groove, as several singers (no idea who it is) passionately intonate the words “Daddy! Take the banana! Tomorrow is sundaaaaay!!” over and over again. It sounds a lot like the aforementioned Monks now and gets progressively wilder and heavier, with treated guitar solos and the like. This as untamed and wild as anything their countrymen Can recorded around that time, hands down. An ugly, distorted piece of free-garage-rock. No Harm ends appropriately with screams and a huge power chord.
The next track, So Far, has the amateurish tape manipulations I talked about earlier right at the beginning, but soon settles into a repetitive, laid-back faux-jazz-funk groove that’s used as an excuse for band member Gunther Wüsthoff to lay some cool synth noises over it. Not the most remarkable track, but good anyway.
So Far seamlessly flows into the forbidding, proto-industrial thumps (treated drums?) and what sounds almost like the buzzing noise a guitar amp makes that start Mamie Blue (“Mommy is blue/ and daddy is blue/ and mommy is you”). The most “experimental” track on the album even develops some kind of “melody” at some point and then diminishes into a hazy fog of distortion and indescribable noise, to end with a droning organ.
I’ve Got My Car And My TV (“…what should I care about you?”) makes me laugh each time it comes around. The song sounds kinda like a cross between show tune and free jazz, with its bell-like keyboards and cool sax/guitar soloing and has some hilarious lyrics (see above).
After two short, collagey instrumentals, called Picnic On A Frozen River and Me Lack Space…, follows the albums last track, …In The Spirit, which sounds cheesy and music hall-ish, but is probably the perfect outro for this strange, strange mind trip of an album.
But this review only scratches the surface, really. As I said in the intro, you gotta listen for yourself, because this music is much more than the sum of its odd little parts.
It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl
I've Got My Car And My TV