In the early seventies, Germany’s progressive music scene became known in Europe and the US as ‘Krautrock’, a faintly pejorative tag coined by the British press after Virgin and United Artists began to licence and sign German acts.
The genre was established as a profitable trend, but rapidly became associated with acts sadly lacking the European avant-garde sense of rock established by the first wave of Krautrockers.
Faust formed in 1971 from a left-wing students’ commune. Their coalescence of San Francisco politics and electro-acoustic sound trips was championed by Uwe Netlebeck, a music journalist who became their producer and mentor.
Each Faust LP was distinctively different, offering a kaleidoscope of musical possibilities, often challenging, frequently euphoric and sometimes quite beautiful.
The Faust Tapes (1972) – a collection of home recordings – was released by Virgin at the low, low price of 48p as a publicity exercise to draw attention to the group, who were virtually unknown in the UK at the time. The plan went awry when the album sold 60,000 copies in next to no time, with orders continuing to pour in.
On the verge of 100,000 sales, Virgin pulled the album on 20 July 1973, having lost 2p on the sale of each and every copy of the LP but won underground popularity for the band.
A British tour followed, and Faust was signed to record their first British album, Faust IV (1973).
Faust IV stands as their most accessible album, containing inspired pieces such as the quirkily charming reggae dub love song Jennifer; the (possibly ironic) relentlessly churning 12-minute Can-like opus Krautrock, and the ominous It’s A Bit Of A Pain where acoustic folk meets feedback rock.
The album was recorded at the Manor Studios in England. As sessions took too long to complete, producer Netlebeck opted to complete the album with material that was recorded at previous sessions in Wümme, Germany.
Hans Joachim Irmler
Jean Herve Peron
Guitar, clarinet, vocals