Faust: Faust

Vinyl reissue of Krautrock legends’ 1971 debut album.

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When Polydor signed Hamburg group Faust, it was on the understanding that they would be the “German Beatles”, a composite, hand-picked group who would light up the 70s the way the Fab Four did the 60s.

They were given the freedom of a converted studio complex in Wümme and the assistance of seasoned producer Kurt Graupner. When the album appeared, studio executives’ jaws dropped like anvils. The opening to Why Don’t You Eat Carrots features two short snippets of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and All You Need Is Love going up in flames in a burst of electronic crackle.

Faust were very much less than the New Beatles, but way more than that. A mixture of studio free-form improvisation, barrages of electronics, Dadaist sound collage and Surrealist lyrical methods, Faust were part of the Krautrock wave whose main preoccupation was with rejecting the Anglo-American music on which West Germany had shamefully subsisted in the 60s.

Meadow Meal, lurching from pastoral guitar to barrages of black noise to modified, drenching organ tones and the free-ranging Miss Fortune, which takes up all of side two, still sound astonishing today; anyone who thinks Krautrock is merely about the 44 Dingerbeat should be whacked over the head with a copy of this album. They were allowed to make one more by Polydor before being dropped; they were picked up by Virgin, who after two more magnificent albums dropped them too.

Faust are an object lesson in squandering commercial opportunities to make music for the ages instead./o:p

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.