Faust

Something Dirty

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The saga continues on 2011's Something Dirty, the fourth offering from the Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi Diermaier version of Faust. (The other group using the name contains original member Hans Joachim Irmler.) As is typical of this unit, there are lineup changes. 2009's C'es Com ... Com ... Compliqué -- recorded in 2007 -- contained Amaury Cambuzat (a member since 1999) who left shortly thereafter. This new lineup features guitarist James Johnston, founder of the brutish British blues-rockers Gallon Drunk, and the English painter, filmmaker, author, and musician Geraldine Swayne on keyboards. Following the footsteps of C'es Com ... Com ... Compliqué, Something Dirty underscores Faust's reputation as a never-say-die band of avant-rock provocateurs. The sounds are basic, often repetitive, anchored by Diermaier's primitive, tribalistic drumming (heavy with tom-toms and kick drums), and Péron's single- and double-note bassing in the rhythm section; Johnston and Swayne are left to color the sound texturally with everything from noise and feedback to full-on chordal riffs to open, ringing drones: check the opener "Tell the Bitch to Go Home" (with a bassline straight from Joy Division's "Shadowplay") and the title track for ample evidence. Things get more abstract on the beautiful, haunted "Herbstimmung," with shimmering racket and distorted slide guitar. They move toward pure art terrorism on the tense, skeletal ambience that decorates the poetry of Péron and Swayne on "Thoughts of the Dead," and the subdued, elegiac darkness in the set's longest number "Lost the Signal," sung airily by Swayne: comparisons to the Velvet Underground with Nico are inevitable. The two-part "Dampfauslass," feels utterly improvised but its atmospherics are tempered by the raucous, primitive rock on "Pythagoras." The album closes with "La Sole Dorée." It commences as a sparsely decorated ballad but gains in tempo, density, and intensity with Swayne doing her best Patti Smith spoken word on the lyric. It shifts into high gear becoming a primal tidal wave of hypnotic rockist squall and stops suddenly, leaving the listener in stunned silence. Something Dirty is a powerful recording; let's hope this version of Faust remains together awhile: their collective focus is sharp and their execution nearly flawless even at their most delightfully excessive.

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