Faust - "Faust/So Far" (reissued by Collector's Choice Music 2000, WWCCM0179x, originally released 1971/1972)
From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)
Happily, Collector's Choice Music has re-released the first two albums by legendary German group Faust, on one CD. There's nothing new here, no previously un-released tracks or anything, but these are perhaps the two finest albums Faust ever recorded (one could also include the classic Faust IV album), and this budget priced compilation is a great way to start exploring what this band has to offer, or simply getting your hands on a couple of albums that have been difficult to find until recently.
The first Faust album was so groundbreaking in its innovation that it was impossible to say what its influences were. Three lengthy tracks verged far from the standard rock paradigms of the day, bearing little resemblance to anything the genres of psychedelia, progressive rock, or space rock had yet offered. Musique concrete collided with analog synthesizer drones, freaked out electric guitars, plunking piano, tape edits, loopy marching bands, chanted and spoken vocals, reverent church organ, and soft acoustic guitars for a wildly diverting and crazy sound that still seems ahead of its time 30 years later.
So Far took a step towards a slightly more conventional song structure, but still remained firmly rooted in the experimental, though some of the pieces, such as the beautiful On the Way to Abamae, are surprisingly lyrical. Other great tracks include the title track, a jazzy and spacy rumination that slides right into the grinding Mamie is Blue, and the classic No Harm, which begins with a stately, almost orchestral feel, climaxing in gentle Elizabethan horns before breaking into a wild jam with group members yelling "Daddy take a banana, tomorrow is Sunday!" Flipped out in the extreme, but great stuff nonetheless.
Though it doesn't seem to be a re-master, the sound on the CD is good, if not entirely crisp, but captures the feel of the period well. The packaging recaptures the x-rayed hand cover of the debut album, and there are interesting liner notes by Jason Gross. Faust/So Far is a terrific, and affordable, way to get a big taste of one of the lesser known, but most influential of the 70's Krautrock bands.
For more information you can visit the Collector's Choice Music web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Collector's Choice Music; PO Box 838; Itasca, IL 60143-0838, or by phone at 1-800-923-1122.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald