Rock and Roll is Not Enough: an introduction to the music of faUSt by Enrique Mendia

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On July 17th, SPACE will be opening our doors to the German krautrock band faUSt. We thought it was only appropriate to provide a brief introduction into their storied history, showing you why no one in their right mind should miss this show.

Faust (today stylized as faUSt) is named after a classic German legend that tells the story of a man who makes a pact with the devil for infinite knowledge and worldly pleasures.  The band couldn’t have picked a more fitting name; as British musician and writer Julian Cope said “there is no group more mythical than faUSt”. They have always defied categorization, and are still challenging conventions as much as they did in the early days of the band. Though they are often associated with other world-renowned krautrock bands such as Kraftwerk, CAN, and Neu!, their approach to music is singular; they pioneered droning guitar sounds and pulsating grooves that are ever-present in music today.  Pure experimentation became the core of their artistic mission, influencing genres as diverse as techno, post-punk, ambient, and post-rock. On the brink of becoming Europe’s next musical obsession in the early 70’s, they were called “the German Beatles”. As faUSt bandleader Jean-Herve Pèron said in a 2009 interview with the BBC, “artists are just mirrors to the societies they live in…. and rock and roll just wasn’t enough”.

The myth of faUSt begins in a rural town in Germany in 1971, where they turned a former school into their creative headquarters and signed to major record label Polydor.  Those next few years would come to be known as the “Wümme Years”— faUSt’s first attempt to come up with something completely new, something that they thought the music world was missing, something after rock and roll. faUSt’s self-titled debut put them on the map, garnering critical acclaim and a cult following of music-lovers.  After the 2001 reissue of Faust, Pitchfork retrospectively praised it as having presented the “new solution for music”. faUSt was up to something special, and by the release of their sophomore album, So Far, they were at the forefront of the burgeoning krautrock scene, a forward-thinking movement emerging in German rock and pop.  Their record label hoped that their critical and cult success would translate to greater commercial success, but this was of no concern for faUSt. They were interested in innovation and experimentation; marketability was not a priority.


The next few years saw the release of two more albums, The Faust Tapes and Faust IV, both continuing to grow their loyal following with the former selling over 100,000 copies.  These early years are indicative of the faUSt that is still present today: a band taking an uncompromising approach to art while incidentally finding cult success. Pèron says it perfectly when he speaks of the early years as “pure joy. pure nonsense…sincere friends making music”.  Such an approach allowed the band to master a radical mix of the art-collage sensibilities of musique concrète, the tape experiments of experimental composer Stockhausen, and the proto-punk energy of The Velvet Underground and create “moments of almost pastoral beauty” (NME).

After the release of Faust IV in 1974 and while working toward a fifth record, the band disappeared. While for most bands one would simply say they broke up, a “disappearance” is far more accurate description of faUSt’s next period. Little is known about the band members’ whereabouts and creative pursuits over this decade and a half, but in 1990, they reformed and returned to the stage. faUSt left their mark in those few early years of prolific genius, but to many’s surprise they hadn't lost a beat upon their return. They’ve been in a near constant state of activity since. “faUSt isn’t avant-garde. We’re not trying to be ahead of our time or beyond our time – we’re just trying to be here and now.” says Pèron. And here and now they are, coming off their 2017 release of Fresh Air.  faUSt is as innovative as ever, leaving no question that their creative flame has a lot of life left. The world isn't nearly done with faUSt and SPACE couldn’t be more excited to see what’s next.



By intern
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