Faust IV (Virgin)
All you end up doing when talking about so much Seventies music is butting your head against the fact that things just can’t sound this charged with naive wonder and innovative reach any more. It ain’t just that rock is getting explored or expanded here, it’s more that its essential limitations are being mapped out so thoroughly, and within songs that are so untutoredly unhinged in content and construction that current rock ‘experimentation’ can’t help sounding like the spoddish trailchasing it usually is. Faust, Neu!, Can, La Dusseldorf, Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Harmonia, Cluster – these bands are stars, events in the firmament seemingly as freewheeling and chaotic as a supernova, yet with an chemical and astrophysical coherence you could spend a lifetime decoding.
So as ever, listening to Faust, especially on this beautifully remastered reissue of their 1973 swansong, is entirely inspirational, but only in that one would hope music could still be made with this generous vanguard spirit. I never wanna hear a record try and sound like this ever again. I hope this is heard by hip hop producers, grime MCs and doom-metal bands. And I hope post-rock pootlers only hear it to be reminded of why they should have given up a decade before most of them were born. Faust were there, more beautifully, more melodically, more soulfully and sweetly than anyone since.
The original album sounds startlingly fresh.‘Krautrock’ is pure magic enacted on the brain. But I’d forgotten just what a great rubbery skank ‘The Sad Skinhead’ is, and just what a gorgeous weft of wonder ‘Jennifer’ is, how it stands up to anything off Neu! 75, how it destroys its legion of copyists in subtlety and that headwreckin’ warpyweft of overdriven drone. And we haven’t even got time here to go into the lurid Herzog psychodrama of ‘Just A Second/Picnic/Deuxieme Tableaux’, the Monks-style rattle and belief of ‘Giggly Smile’, or the gorgeous Cantebury cosmonautics of ‘Lauft’ and ‘It’s A Bit Of A Pain’. Just hear them.
The extra CD pulls together three of the Peel Session tracks (the mindblowing delay-funk of ‘Lurcher’ sits uncannily well with those Miles’ ‘Cellar Door’ sessions currently threatening to swallow up the year, while ‘Do So’ sounds like the fucking Zombies!) and six unreleased tracks recorded by Uwe Nettelbeck. The alternate takes of the bulk of IV are intriguing (and in the case of ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Just A Second’ debatably even better than the originals) but the never-before-heard ‘Piano Piece’ is a shimmering breeze that’s redolent of that heartstopping last minute of the Stones ‘Moonlight Mile’ and prefigures Eno/Fripp’s ‘Evening Star’ by a good couple of years. Ever ahead but crucially taking your hand tenderly every step of the way. Make a pact with all of this soon.