Release Date: Nov 25, 2014
Record label: Bureau B
Genre(s): Experimental, Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock, Art Rock, Kraut Rock
Insofar as they never marched to the beat of any drum other than their own, krautrock kingpins Faust still fly a flag for the turbid ideals of the counterculture. Just Us begins with Gerubelt, in which Jean-Hervé Peron sets up an insistent one-note bassline, while Zappi Diermaier provides stray rattles and rumbles of percussion. Presently, it lurches into grimy life, but still basically marches on the spot.
An almost mythical book talking about a rather mythical genre and a “mythical” band. In Julian Cope‘s out-of-print but may or may not be re-printed Krautrocksampler (fancy a mint copy? Yours for £200 from certain websites), Cope says: “There is no group more mythical than Faust… I could not tell you the names of the group members off the top of my head. And I could not tell you the names of all their songs, though I know them all better than almost everything else in my record library.
Though absolutely foundational in Krautrock circles (even arguably responsible for naming the genre with a song of the same name on their 1973 album Faust IV), Hamburg collective Faust always existed on the fringes of even Krautrock's genre-defying experimentalism. While contemporaries like Can, Amon Düül II, and Ash Ra Tempel were pushing outward expansively within the confines of what a rock band was capable of, Faust's radical manipulation of editing, production, and studio trickery combined with their "anything goes" compositional approach resulted in some of the genre's most vibrantly diverse albums and set them in a class of their own. Over 40 years later, the madcap spirit that defined the band's earliest groundbreaking material is alive and well on 2014 album jUSt, aka Just Us.
Billed as one of the pioneering groups in what would come to be known as Krautrock, Faust have long been celebrated for their undying innovation as well as their ability to create durable collaborations. On their 11th full-length, founding members Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi Diermaier have released their ultimate collaboration, j US t. Laying down a dozen (mostly) instrumentals, j US t is an album intended for the listener to use as basic tracks and samples to create their own versions.
Faust’s intentions have never been easy to discern. Over their 40-plus years of morphing, discontinuous existence, they’ve been so good at dodging expectations and confounding analysis that even when they’re playing it straight, you wonder if something else is going on. So when the press sheet for j US t (pronounced "just us") claims the band is "inviting the whole world to use [the album] as a base on which to build their own music," it’s hard not to get suspicious.
Faust will always - hopefully - remain enigmas in the world of ‘rock’ music. Their influence, much like that of fellow Teutonic godheads Neu! and Tangerine Dream, has now seeped into a realm of sonic consciousness far beyond quantitative measurement. Of course, Faust have a sound and a canon quite dissimilar from the bands that occupy the same genre as they: bands like the aforementioned Neu! and Tangerine Dream sit alongside Harmonia, Can, Amon Duul II and even Kraftwerk as being so-called ‘krautrock’ groups.
So little is as frustrating as an unfulfilled promise. Artists might have their reasons for subverting audience expectations but even at the best of times they must be aware that their readers, their viewers or their listeners can never be wholly satisfied with an experience that charted a clear trajectory only to bring them at last to a location wholly alien to the one they’d been pointed towards. Not even the most eloquent explanation can account for the fact that a kind of contract was broken and that even the most receptive of audience members will still be left feeling somehow slighted.
Having blown past its 40th anniversary, veteran German avant-garde rock outfit Faust keeps on keepin’ on with Just Us. Though pared down to the duo of original members Zappi W. Diermaier and Jean-Hervé Péron, the sound isn’t stripped down so much as efficient. Though the arrangements revolve around guitar and drums, the pair isn’t above overdubbing whatever additional instrumentation is required, giving the songs depth beyond just guitar and drum improvs.