Way back in 1971, the young lads who called themselves Faust were charter members of an avant-garde German music scene which was eventually dubbed "Krautrock." Incredible as it may seem, 38 years later they have released one of the most intoxicating records of their career with C’est Com…Com…Complique.
Opening with the nine minute "Kundalini Tremolos" the band have clearly remained true to their original ideals. This absorbing instrumental immediately sucks the listener into a virtual maelstrom of guitar effects, yet never overwhelms with simple noise. The same holds true with “Ce Chemin Est Le Bon” or as I call it, track three.
Have Faust spent way too much time in Paris lately, or what? All of the song titles, and lyrics are in the French language. To the band’s credit though, words have never really been a part of their music. Vocals are rarely used, and when they are, it is generally just as an extension of Faust’s always enveloping musical content.
The track on C’est Com utilizing the most vocals is “Petits Sons Appetissants.” This is apparently Faust’s pop song, a bid for their moment in the sun alongside The Jonas Brothers. It is actually a very nice tune, with some offbeat keyboard work and melodic singing. I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but again, it does not really matter in context.
Although nobody has ever really liked the term Krautrock, it has stuck as shorthand for a definitive period in early 1970‘s German rock. Artists such as Kraftwerk, Amon Duul, Neu! and Can were Faust’s contemporaries in 1971. The musical legacy of these bands is imposing, to say the least. Faust never reached the global audience that Kraftwerk did, but their influence on future generations is undeniable.
The 13 minute title track of C’est Com bears this out in spades. Founding member and drummer Werner “Zappi” Diermaier takes charge of this song in no uncertain terms. His insistent drum beats gave rise to a term often applied to Krautrock music: “Motorik.” On “C’est Com” he shows what the kudos have always been about. In a subtle, yet insistent manner, Zappi’s drums become the lead instrument, driving the song home in an incredible manner.
The final four minutes of “C’est Com” hearken back to an obvious Faust influence, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz." Honking saxophones abound, and cap this record off in a perfect way. The Faust Tapes album is always cited as their masterpiece, and I understand why. But C’est Com…Com…Complique is right up there with their best work, no question about it.
38 years after their inception, Faust are still experimental as ever. Their genius has always been to walk the thin line between avant-garde, and producing music you actually want to listen to. There is not a bad track on C’est Com. It is one of the most adventurous, yet accessible records I have heard this year.