Faust, The Faust Tapes

Mark Paytress

By Mark Paytress

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The best-selling Krautrock cut-and-paste masterpiece.

The Krautrock bands were a peculiar progressive-era breed. While Britain's prog behemoths drew inspiration from the high romanticism of the 19th century composers, the German post-psych scene was far more impressed by new music that emphasized both rhythmic repetition (Steve Reich, Velvet Underground) and abstract sounds (Stockhausen). Thanks to an initiative by Virgin, who released The Faust Tapes in 1973 for the price of a single, Faust were the best known and, due to the 26 disjointed fragments that made up the set, the most notorious. But The Faust Tapes is not all impenetrable experimentalism. "Flashback Caruso" is an elegant, piano-enhanced piece of post-psych folk, while the seven-minute-plus groove of "J'ai Mal Aux Dents" sounds like an unholy collision of Zappa and James Brown. Much else (usually titled "Exercise" or "Untitled") sounds like work-in-progress — itself a demystification of prog's perfectionism — utilizing multiple pianos, radio chatter and cavernous echo effects.