Krautrock legends Faust toured the United States in 2016, working with different guest musicians at each location. To be specific, this is the Jean-Hervé Peron and Werner Diermaier lineup of Faust (the other lineup, headed by additional co-founder Hans Joachim Irmler, doesn't appear to be as active, and may have ceased activity), along with Maxime Manac'h. Additionally, they now prefer the spelling faUSt, similar to their 2014 album jUSt (Just Us). The opening and closing tracks on the album were recorded live at Jersey City free-form radio station WFMU, but it's not necessarily a live album, as other pieces were recorded at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and Nico Studios in Austin, and include some overdubbing. It's hard to tell how much of the material was composed and how much was improvised, but it all seems to be of a very spontaneous nature. The album opens with a mammoth 17-minute title track filled with spoken recitations, operatic vocals, and droning strings. After a long, slow build, a steady rhythm emerges, along with twangy distorted guitar. There is an urgent call for fresh air across the world, and it sounds like a glorious cry for freedom. Following a pair of shorter experiments (including a 22-second vocal piece titled "Partitur," which sounds like a brief Dadaist interpretation of a circus), the group locks back into motorik rhythms for tracks like "La Poulie," which is filled with spiraling guitars, buzzing synths, and exuberant French vocals. Barbara Manning provides English counterpoint to Péron's French poetry on "Chlorophyl," then takes control on the frantic "Lights Flicker." Rusty, skronky saxophone wails over a racing rhythm while Manning blurts out a manic prose verse with a gruesome conclusion, returning to the line "lights flicker as I blink my eyes." The 11-minute closing track, "Fish," is slower and calmer, but its lyrics are still turbulent, touching on social disenchantment, environmental issues, and politics: "[the sea] doesn't mind all the corpses of the refugees, slowly sinking down in the Mediterranean Sea." The collaborators seem perfectly in tune with what faUSt are doing, so the album feels like a coherent work rather than something assembled in different locations by a disparate cast of individuals. It also demonstrates that Péron and Diermaier remain fearless and vital, over 45 years after co-founding the band's original incarnation.
Fresh Air Review
by Paul Simpson