14 June 2005

Faustian Tat

The post at One Faint Deluded Smile (loads of MP3s there) rightly suggests that, in the rock pantheon (does this actually exist beyond Hall of Fame TV shows, Zeitgeist summaries and neon Planet Hollywood detritus? I mean is it somewhere you could go?), Faust "are often seen, ridiculously, as 2nd tier in comparison (to Can and Neu)". It suggests that the problem may lie in Faust's lack of 'songs' but I reckon it's more to do with the name.

Faust. Where do you go with that?

I've seen Neu-ish used a number of times in reviews as a metaphor for motorik rock music and as such it's a convenient simile for journalists describing new music - 'post rock' might never have got off the ground if it wasn't for phrases like that.

It's often banal and repetive but Neu-ish has at least an echo of meaning, even if it's often (over)used in wildly inappropriate ways (i.e. in the same way that anything which goes on a bit can be described as psychedelic). You buy something that's been compared to Neu and you've at least got a semblence of an idea what it might sound like...

And as for Can, well there's no Can-ish or Can-like in common usage but instead their sound has been co-opted by the term "kraut", although when new music is paralleled with krautrock often it seems the writer is referring to Tago Mago, Monster Movie, Ege Bamyasi drumming rather than Can's sound as a whole (cf; most of the reviews for Caribou's new album)

Faustian? No; means something else entirely.
Faustesque? Mmmm

But the name and its inherent uselessness to lazy journalists (i count myself among them, at least the first bit) isn't the only problem...

Faust are undoubtedly innovators and they have been undoubtedly influential but this influence has seldom elicited outright copy-catting; no one has attempted to reproduce even a part of their sound because, well, they don't really have one. Faust's sound is relatively distinctive, in the sense that you can often tell a Faust track is playing, but it is not definitive.

Oh Yeah by Can has the elements you need for a Can schema - that drumming, the out-there otherworldly vocals, the the repetitive pop of the guitars... - but there's no single Faust track that helps people grasp the essence; the nearest you get is someone naming a favourite album - normally The Faust Tapes or Faust IV - and that's not the same thing at all.


UPDATE: Just noticed that Gutterbreakz has also been on a Faust, er, tip tonight... making a much better go of it as well... damn!

3 comments:

GTTRBRKZ said...

wow..that's pretty trippy. and to think I considered posting my Faust piece here at the Idiot's Guide - now that would've been funny!

Psychbloke said...

Well....I'm not sure funny is the word I'd use.....

Phil said...

turning their name back into english : fist-like, maybe. but that still sounds daft.

i agree that their sound is hard to pin down and i also agree on the drumming thing. that seems to be the most obvious reference point for all the recent bands who've grabbed the sound somehow. but zappi's drumming and drum sound (thanks kurt) are as wonderfull and easily identifiable as the others.

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