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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faust's Finest, 11 Mar. 2005
By 
M. Knox "martynipknox2" (Reading, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Faust IV (Audio CD)
Krautrock gave birth to some bands that were pretty out there, but Faust are generally regarded as the most extreme of the lot. This is probably down to their fondness for testing musical arrangements (the lengthy, sparse 'It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl' from So Far for instance) and an unconventional approach to live shows (attacking a concrete block with an elctric Kango hammer on stage, or putting down your instrument mid-song to play pinball, that kind of thing). This though, is generally regarded as their most accessible set, featuring as it does, some almost conventional moments. It might not be the best place to start any exploration of Krautrock - Can or Kraftwerk would be better options - but it's the best place to start exploring Faust.
With a lot of Krautrock, it's hard to cite obvious musical reference points, and I suppose that's to be expected in a genre where many acts are trying to push the musical form as far as they can before it stops being music any more ('Aumgm' from Can's Tago Mago or the whole of Faust Clear), but on parts of this album, and on 'Picnic On A Frozen River: Deuxieme Tableux' in particular, there is a distinct Frank Zappa influence on Faust, to such an extent that even the tone of the guitar on the third section of this track sounds Zappa-esque.
To try and explain the album as a whole is almost impossible as it covers such a broad range of musical styles, none of which is easily categorisable. The first track, drolly titled 'Krautrock', is twelve minutes of sinister, slow-burning electronic noise, but is immediately followed by the (almost) comedy reggae of 'The Sad Skinhead' ("Apart from all the bad times you gave me, I always felt good with you"). This, in turn, is followed by the bassy throb and moody guitar figure of 'Jennifer', and even this is subsumed in a lengthy squall of electronic noise, before the song reaches its conclusion (played, unaccompanied, on a badly tuned upright piano).
'Just A Minute (Starts Like That!)' kicks off with an almost rolling groove, but soon dissolves into more electronic beeping and fizzing before the album's centrepiece 'Picnic On A Frozen River: Deuxieme Tableux' slides in. This is truly a work of barmy genius; even on an album as madly multi-faceted as this one, this track stands out (incidentally, contrary to the album cover, this track includes versions of both 'Giggy Smile' and 'Picnic On A Frozen River'. The track that follows 'Läuft...Heisst Das es Läuft Oder es Kommt Bald...Läuft' is called 'Run'). In true Progressive Rock fashion it moves through three distinct phases, sometimes evoking memories of The Mothers Of Invention circa Freak Out or Absolutely Free, but always fed through the Faust musical mincer. There are moments of outrageous catchiness, (the final, almost danceable, section), surpassing loveliness (the segue into the second phase of the song), and even some Ian Underwood-ish sax honking. It's a song that sounds as fresh today as it must have thirty years ago. Because it's a song so unlike anything else, there's nothing about it that can really date it, and it really showcases everything great about Faust.
That's not to dismiss the remainder of the album lightly, 'Läuft...Heisst Das Es Läuft Oder Es Kommt Bald...Läuft' is much more elegant than its rather unwieldy title might suggest, and the intro to 'Run' could almost come from fellow Krautrock pioneers Tangerine Dream. But 'Picnic...' is the undoubted high point.
The more I listen to Krautrock, the more I begin to understand its similarities to Progressive Rock, but at the same time I also become more aware of its differences. Where British Prog came from the tail end of psychedelia and was founded in a desire to stretch and re-shape the conventional Pop/Rock song, Krautrock came from a country that felt - to the generation of people making and listening to this music, at least - culturally barren. Consequently I think, British Progressive Rock is heavily influenced by the country's musical heritage and a desire to forge something new by combining classical and contemporary forms, whereas the German equivalent doesn't (possibly daren't) look back. Instead, it is informed by nothing but the desire to destroy traditional ideas and make something truly revolutionary. The fact that the two are somehow structurally similar because of this is probably deeply ironic.
The ideals of Krautrock are probably as well reflected in this album as in any of the genre. Consequently, it's not an album you'll necessarily fall in love with at once, but if you give it time, it might just change your life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hey, hey they're the alt Monkees, 16 Sept. 2014
By 
Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Faust IV (Audio CD)
Like an alt Monkees, Faust were assembled by ambitious record exec's in Hamburgh keen to capitalise on the boom in music sales following the Beatles, Stones etc.. Ironically they created something about as far from the Monkees as it is possible to imagine and as far from commercial as it is possible to be. This is their most accessible recording. The standout is obviously 'Krautrock', showing a wry sensibility in using a term these Kosmische groups loathed. It is a 11 minutes plus blast of guitar sounding like a foghorn mated with a hoover and oddly inspiring; the rest of the disc alternates between often harsh, Stockhausen-influenced avant gardeism and sweet, bucolic melodies, 'Jennifer' for example. Like other of these groups they are inventive, unpredictable and clever. Unlike their eponym, they clearly have kept their soul, and 'It's a bit of a pain' and 'The Sad Skinhead' demonstrate that, serious about music as they undoubtedly were, they have a sense of humour too. They easily escape lazy stereotypes about Germany and are, in my opinion, one of the holy trinity of German pop along with Can and Amon Duul 2. Of course after enjoying this you will wish to hear the less accessible, brilliant 'Faust' and 'So Far.' Superb entertainment not for all the family. Highly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic krautrock, 16 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Faust IV (Audio CD)
The album opens with the track 'krautrock', the term used by the music papers attempting to categorise an amazing movement in West Germany in the early 70s. Bands such as 'Can','Neu!' and 'Faust' were busy largely ignoring Western rock music and creating there own Rock music seperately. 'Krautrock' is a 12 minute fuzzed up drone that never changes chord, vaguely sounding like 'sister ray' by the 'Velvet Underground'. Just in case you thought they were a bunch of dull art rockers they then give us 'the sad skinhead' a sort of German reggae skank. There is also the brilliant instrumental 'Just a second (starts like that)' this starts out as a hard powerful low droning riff and degenerates into moog chaos. There are some great songs like 'Jennifer','picnic on a frozen river' and 'its a bit of a pain' that show that they can also write great tunes inbetween getting all avant-garde on yo ass. This is the most accessible of the Faust albums.
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Faust IV
Faust IV by Faust (Audio CD - 1992)
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