Faust – So Far Polydor 2310 196 (1972)
Faust’s second album is quite different from their debut. The first had only three songs, each long, abstract soundscapes with much processing by engineer Kurt Graupner. Now there were definite “songs”. If this makes it sound like So Far is more conventional, that is perhaps misleading. Every song seems to adopt completely different styles, often multiple different styles. The opener “It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl” is driving primitive rock. The drums are rudimentary and there is a sax solo that is non-virtuoso. Then the second track is a delicate Euro-classical guitar piece. The abrupt transition between opposites is what to expect throughout the remainder of the album.
What makes the album so unique is that everything is treated equally. That is to say that when “On the Way to Abamae” incorporates Euro-classical music, “I’ve Got Mr Car and My TV” is anarchic hippie sarcasm (compare God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It), then “Me Lack Space…” delves into free jazz and then “…In the Spirit” features comical vaudeville style jazz, they are all treated as equally valid. There is no sort of weighting of one over another. That is pretty radical. As recounted in his obituary, producer Uwe Nettelbeck took left-wing stances (like writing about the Red Army Faction/Baader-Meinhof Gang) to “force the other side to show its true colors; they won’t react in a liberal way as they would like, but in an authoritarian way as they must when things get serious”. Faust’s music is kind of confrontational in the same way. Either you love the open-arms radicalism, or you probably find it grating — probably because it chafes against privileging one things over others that has pretty direct analogs in the “real world” outside of music. This, certainly, won’t be the sort of music that just drifts by in the background. So Far is Faust at their best.