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Album Review

As strange and chaotic as the journey of Germany's Faust has been since 1970, one thing has been constant: no matter what they have issued, in whatever incarnation, Faust have never sounded like anyone else. They have been a myth since the very beginning, and a mystery to all but one another. C'est Com...Com...Compliqué, issued in early 2009, was recorded by the studio incarnation of Faust: original members Jean Hervé Peron and Werner "Zappi" Diermaier along with Amaury Cambuzat of French vanguard rock outfit Ulan Bator. (There is also an expanded live version of the band with former Henry Cow reed and woodwind man Geoff Leigh, singer Lucianne Lassalle, British poet Zoë Skoulding, and members of Welsh experimentalist band Ectogram.) The album was recorded at the now legendary Electric Avenue Studio in Hamburg by Tobias Levin. The music on this set is much less anarchic than some previous Faust releases, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable or adventurous. Rhythmically, Dermaier's drumming is as trancelike as ever, whether he's using his kit or various other percussion instruments (or those adopted as such); Peron's basslines are throbbing, pulsing and incantatory; and Cambuzat's wildly original use of guitars, various primitive keyboards, toy instruments, and household elements fills out a sound that is more speculative than aggressive, though there is no lack of drama in these proceedings. A listen to the nine-plus-minute mantra-like "Kundalini Tremolos," which is Krautrock to its very core, is example enough. But there are much stranger things on offer here as well, such as "Petits Sons Appétissants," with its strummed nylon-string guitars; lunatic-fringe French poetry; Wurlitzer piano; bass drums; tom-toms; and crashing, thunder-like sheets of metal percussion. The guitar and bass freakout that introduces "Bonjour Gioacchino" is the most "rockist" thing here; its sense of power and overdrive with shimmering reverb and clattering cymbals and feedback creates tension and drama that feel apocalyptic. The title track, which closes the album, is more improvisational. It consists of various musical statements woven together with pasted bits of industrial and ambient sound, theater, poetry, and noise. It goes on a bit too long perhaps, but then, this is Faust. And this track, more than any other on the set, reminds the listener that these cats remain pioneers for whom nothing is off limits when it comes to exploration. C'est Com...Com...Compliqué is better than anything Faust have issued since 1999's Ravvivando — which is saying plenty — writing another elliptical chapter in one of the most fascinating sagas in the history of rock.


Formed: 1971 in Wumme, Germany

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '90s, '00s, '10s

"There is no group more mythical than Faust," wrote Julian Cope in his book Krautrocksampler, which detailed the pivotal influence the German band exerted over the development of ambient and industrial textures. Producer/overseer Uwe Nettelbeck, a onetime music journalist, formed Faust in Wumme, Germany, in 1971 with founding members Hans Joachim Irmler, Jean Hervé Péron, Werner "Zappi" Diermaier, Rudolf Sosna, Gunther Wusthoff, and Armulf Meifert. Upon receiving advance money from their label, Nettelbeck...
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C'esté, Faust
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