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29 July 2014

Faust - 'So Far' (Recommended)

I've always envisioned Faust as a bit of a 'boy band', in the sense that they were put together by Uwe Nettelbeck to capitalise on the psychedelic craze. The best line from Wikipedia's entry on the first album is definitely "In 1971, Polydor entered a deal with Uwe Nettelbeck to assemble a musical ensemble that could compete with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and Small Faces." So they're basically the Backstreet Boys of their time! Again, it's hard to decide on the pinnacle of Faust's first four albums because they're all so fucking perfect, but So Far might be the most cohesive record of them as a 'band'. It's more diverse than the debut, opening with 'It's a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl' which is typically attributed as indebted to the Velvet Underground, but I hear more of the Godz in it, plus a hint of soul. Really! That's what my soul looks like. 'No Harm' is the one I like to play when I DJ, though I never remember the name of it ("Daddy, take a banana, Tomorrow is Sunday!", yeah that one) and when turned up LOUD, it sounds absolutely goddamned fucking incredible. This is Faust almost pissing out perfect, spazzy guitar-psych just because they can, and it's somehow a bit Dada and distinctly European and yet menacing and accessible simultaneously. They also manage to sound like Throbbing Gristle on 'Mamie is Blue', and spin some delicate folk moments with 'On the Way to Abamae'. It's occasionally goofy, like when the voices all line up on 'I've Got My Car and My TV', but more often it has a haunting, challenging darkness that spins a web of associations for me. There's actually less tape manipulations and studio fuckery here than I remember - it's really an album of songs, yet it's hard to grasp what these guys are actually about. I find something quite expressive among all these confusing branches, but then they had me at the first album. This is another reissue but one that has the beautiful prints inside, though the paper slipcase holding them is so tight that I rarely take them out. It was the last of the original four to get a CD re-release (or at least it was hella difficult to find in 1999) and thus the one I came to latest, so in many ways it still sounds the freshest, and it's a beautiful, inspiring package.

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