Sunday, November 8, 2009

Faust-71 Minutes (1973-75)

"71 Minutes Of...
compiles from two unreleased albums' worth of material from Faust. Unfortunately, this is a band that I've never really warmed up to all that much. I am able to muster up some amount of words of praise when writing about their music, but I really have to work to come up with them, like Spencer Tracy reeling in the fish in The Old Man and the Sea. When it comes down to it, there simply is little about the lo-fi aesthetic of this band that doesn't leave me cold.

The first half of the CD centers around two lengthy jams entitled "Munic." The first one, "Munic A," grooves along nicely with a solid metronomic beat and mumbled vocals, though I already get my fix with this sort of thing from Can, and for me they deal a purer product. "Don't Take Roots" is a strange type of psychedelic soul, not of the "Strawberry Letter 23" sort, but more like Malcolm Mooney sitting in with the Velvet Underground (the back-up vocals even have a vintage Cale-Morrisson quality to them). Unfortunately, the lead vocalist sounds like he's in mid-hernia, which essentially ruins the song for me. The chant of "Party 5" is also pretty abrasive and painful to listen to.

There are brief moments that I marginally enjoy, and I tend to stomach better here when they are playing acoustically, like the distant piano and deep rumbling drums of "Meer," or the gentle acoustic guitar and violin in "Psalter." As typified on other tracks, like "Baby" or "Party 8," much of the rest, frankly speaking, sounds unfocused at best and amateurish at worst. After a while, it grows tiresome, sounds simply like guys puttering around in their garage at some point during the early 70s, and just because it's a garage somewhere in Germany doesn't make the result all that more exciting to listen to. And, as I've already indicated, the vocals really suck; it's a big drawback for me.

I react to Faust in exactly the same way I do to the music of Henry Cow, despite the differences between the two bands. Of course, they're not exactly from different worlds, with both championing a sense of experimentation and improvisation, and Chris Cutler is obviously a fan, this being carried on his ReR label. But for me, Faust's music has a similar arid intellectualism to it: experimentalism that dances around the bases rather than makes a solid dive into home plate. Adventurous, sure, but I still get no lasting pleasure in listening to it. The good news if you are a Faust fan, of course, is that if you are into the other early albums, you should love this one just about as much."

This has been non-stop listening for me the past month or so. From that "Munic/Yesterday" trance to the fucked out off kilter groove of "Don't Take Roots," "J'ai Mal Aux Dents" funk into "Chromatic" drone, this is a bad ass collection of material. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious recommended.

Don't Take Roots


dtbucher said...

Thank you...I always feel like I "should" like Faust, but am turned off by one thing or another. Great blog!

Zoltar said...

Hey thanks man. I appreciate it.