(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
After a couple of years on this particular site, I always what the big deal about the German "krautrock" band Faust?
I recently purchased Faust's eponymously named debut album, and within the first five minutes, I knew that my money was well invested!
The very first song, "Why Don't You Eat Carrots", is one of those songs that need to be heard to be believed. Enough sonic tidbits, make you swear you were listening to Hawkwind, spoken dialogue like Frank Zappa, and a brief sample of The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love", you swear you were going to hear some one rapping over the song.....NOT!
Although there were many great krautrock groups at the time as Faust, all being on the cutting edge, I have heard more great things about this band, and asides for Can, no other kraut rock band had endured itself to fans of progressive rock than Faust.
This is one great debut, and a legendary recording from the country that produced some of the greatest and influential bands that Rock music has ever known.
Album Rating: FIVE STARS!
Faust’s amazing debut album begins with the line (taken from a song you may know), “I can’t get no satisfaction.” I can only assume that Faust were not being serious, since very little about their music is serious (except, of course, for the quality of it). On the off chance that they really mean what they said (er, stole), however, they were dead wrong. Or, at least, what they said does not apply to the legions of fans who love this album, because it brings satisfaction home like few other albums.
It’s composed of three long songs – each one a masterpiece on its own – that all come together to form one large (if short) masterpiece of epic worth. Faust’s self-titled debut remains one of the most inventive (not to mention wacky) albums ever to have been released. The result of spending six months holed up together in their Wümme recording studio, Faust manages to make industrial music (which did not exist yet) fit together with classical music, Rock In Opposition (again, did not exist yet), minimalist poetry, and, most importantly, pure rock. Faust (the band) feels equally at home lumped with the bands of Henry Cow’s Rock In Opposition movement and with the free form rock of Krautrock. This does not work in reverse, however. The bands of Rock In Opposition and Krautrock would be totally lost attempting to compete with Faust at their own game.
Faust (both the album and band, but particularly the album in this case) is a perfect example of the saying, “you have to know the rules of the game before you can break them.” The members of Faust clearly know the rules of music, understand the rules of music, and feel no need whatsoever to abide by the rules of music. On “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots,” they start with a minute of feedback, develop a brief avant-classical theme, and then launch into an amazing section of pure Faust, where everything is purposely “off” in some form or another (I don’t have the technical musical knowledge to tell exactly how it’s “off”). For the rest of the album, this is basically what you will experience: pure Faust of the style I just described.
And then, once you’ve finally digested the music (which will take many listens, I guarantee you), there are the lyrics. The music may be weird, but the lyrics take things to a whole new level. “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots” is just pure nonsense, but on “Meadow Meal…” well, on “Meadow Meal” it’s still pure nonsense. We are treated to such lyrics as “me is the meadow meal,” “line up, you lose your head to understand the accident is red,” and “a wonderful wooden reason.” And then, of all things, Faust choose to enter a blazing section of pure energy (musically, not lyrically). It sounds bizarre, and it is, but it works. Oh man does it work.
After the rainstorm comes in and breaks up “Meadow Meal” with some great organ work by Hans-Joachim Irmler, we arrive at the “epic” of the album, the sixteen minute “Miss Fortune.” After five minutes of pioneering electronic madness, we traipse through rugged terrain of all sorts of styles before ending with the most pretentious, falsely philosophical (purposely so, of course) lyrical section I’ve ever heard. And, of course, we get some more great Faust one-liners, including my favorite of them all, “He told you to be free, and you obeyed.”
This CD is certainly not for everyone. It is one of the most bizarre CDs I own, perhaps even taking that crown. But it’s also one of the best. No prog collection is truly complete without this album, but unless you already like Krautrock or enjoy some of the outer fringes of avant-prog, Faust IV is probably the place to start with Faust, as it’s still very good and much more accessible. Ultimately, however, I can’t ignore that this is one of my favorite albums of all time. The fact that it’s also one of the most influential albums of all time doesn’t hurt its rating the slightest bit, and I can unhesitatingly award it an A+ rating, which, for me, roughly equates to six stars on a five start scale.
I began this review by mentioning the opening lyric, and I will end by mentioning the closing lyric, from the aforementioned monologue on “Miss Fortune.” The last line is, “nobody knows if it really happened” (falsely philosophical, I told you). Once again, Faust, had they been serious, would have been quite wrong. After hearing this album, you will never forget that it happened, so unique is the experience. However, you will almost certainly be left wondering, “what the hell was that.” And that is the joy of Faust’s brilliant debut.