Celebrating fifty years since they formed, German experimental pioneers Faust have released a seven album compilation of their recordings between 1971-74. This includes the mythical long lost fifth album ‘Punkt’ recorded in 1971 but never released until this box set. They were recording it for Virgin Records but having not consulted the label first, spent a shedload on recording, then rumour has it they had to do a runner when the label wouldn’t pay the bills! Many years after, it’s all been sorted, and it finally sees the light of day.

Faust are one of those bands that were at the forefront of a new musical movement in Germany in the early seventies, along with Can, Neu and others they helped push the musical boundaries of what was possible or even acceptable, as modern music in those days. Sometimes completely out there in terms of sonic experimentation and at other times as tuneful as a jangly pop hit, Faust seemed to incorporate both elements which often served to baffle listeners and their record label alike. “There is no group more mythical than Faust” stated music legend Julian Cope in his book ‘Krautrocksampler’ and he’s got a point. For many years they recorded music in their own studio commune called ‘Wumme’ and without modern gadgets such as tvs, radios, record players, they were able to create their own world of sound, a bold two fingers up to the prevailing pop culture of the day, and invent a new style of music, whose influence can still be heard today.

The first self titled album is a three track dive into a world of sonic exploration with each piece having electronics, cut up snippets, and far out psych guitar riffs. Second album ‘So Far’ is the more melodic side to Faust with the pop meets psych experiment of ‘It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl’ being one of the most accessible tunes they’ve done, but there’s still plenty of far out experimentation to be had too, with sound snippets interspersed between some tracks, and ‘In The Spirit’ being almost a New Orleans jazz meets psych rock album closer. Apparently at one point Faust were going to be marketed as the German equivalent of The Beatles, as their label wanted to sign a band to try and emulate the fab four’s success unsurprisingly, this idea was soon dropped once the label realised what they’d actually signed! 

Unhappy with the band’s experimentation, they found themselves dropped by their first label in 1973, so third album ‘The Faust Tapes’ was released on the newly founded Virgin Records. It saw the band try establish themselves as pioneers of a new type of German music, hailed critically and sold well commercially, it is still regarded as one of their finest. It contains the folk rock meets psych of ‘Flashback Caruso’ which sounds a bit like early Pink Floyd, then ‘Voices And Trumpet And All’ is another other worldly musical adventure with trumpets wailing, vocals and some kind of harmonium all adding to the chaos whereas ‘J’ai Mal Aux Dents’ sounds like Captain Beefheart meets the circus, it’s weirdly wonderful. 

For the next one, Virgin took the band to the label’s own studio, The Manor, in Oxfordshire where the band laid down the sonic experimentation of ‘Faust IV’. Opening with the legendary tune ‘Krautrock’ which has a swirling drone to its lengthy soundscape, there’s also the slow melodic haze of ‘Jennifer’ and the folk meets noise blast of ‘A Bit Of Pain’.’ 

Then there’s the long lost Munich album ‘Punkt’ recorded not at their own Wumme Studio but at disco legend, Georgia Moroder’s Musicland studio in Munich. There’s no dancefloor vibes on here unless you can groove on down to the motorik rhythms and psych noise of ‘Morning’ or the brass and synth led sounds of ‘Knochentanz’. The two other albums on here are ‘Momentaufnahme I’ and Momentaufnahme II’ both offer a glimpse into the workings of the band, with unreleased material and demos, and are treasure troves of Faust’s unique musical vision.

Although the members have gone their separate ways, and sadly Faust member Rudolf Sosna is no longer with us, Faust’s legacy lives on with various members reigniting the flame to tour independently. This box set serves as a reminder of how radical, pioneering and creative this lot were, and is one for both the obsessives and the musically curious to get stuck into and enjoy.

Faust: 1971-1974 50 Jahre Faust: Out Now (Bureau B Records)

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.