Faust – It’s A Bit Of A Pain

• “It’s a Bit of a Pain” set to a fan-created video of a mechanical skeleton. Obviously. Thanks to nufumalangaviorel.

8.1 “Fantastic New Wave from Germany”

First out as a 7″ single (Polydor 2001-299) in 1972 and later included on their fifth album “Faust IV” (Virgin V-2004) released in 1973.

The 5th album from these modern industrial urbanites was delivered in September ’73, and easily nestled into the affections of alternative music-lovers Europe-wide, small in number as they may have been. That said, the die-hards were split as to the merits of the work; many deemed it more bland and less abrasive than previous efforts. Not having heard these I couldn’t possibly comment, but I’d have to say these pieces sound damned fine to my ears; the moody sonics are constantly inventive, and there’s rarely a dull moment across the electronic soundscapes, often to be found floating airily and throbbing without drum beat. Virgin’s press release of the time was enlightening:

“With 1973 came the arrival of what the band call their ‘sound generators’. These are black perspex boxes covered with dozens of white buttons: no one but Faust seem to know exactly how they work – they were custom-made, took two years to build and are unique. The sound generators are in part responsible for the highly individual sound of Faust – after all they are the only group in the world which have them. With these generators and other new equipment, Faust could now produce on stage effects that previously could only be achieved by lengthy adjustments to the PA inputs.”

For this set, the group decamped from Wümme to Oxfordshire for recording, where they could play in Richard Branson’s new studio. They lined up: Werner ‘Zappi’ Diermaier (drums); Hans Joachim Irmler (organ); Jean-Hervé Péron (bass); Rudolf Sosna (guitar, keyboards) and Gunter Wüsthoff (synthesiser, sax). They ran out of time though, and in the end the drone-tastic 12-minute opener “Krautrock” was re-used from the March ’73 John Peel session and the fantastic closer “It’s A Bit Of A Pain” was re-used from the 7” single recording issued in 1972. This single emerges as my own personal favourite. Although not renowned for their lyrics, Jean-Hervé Péron later revealed his thought-process:

“The lyrics try to express the way I felt being in the new situation of having money and equipment and a large house and time (very beginning of Faust, prior to and including first halfyear or so in Wümme) and being so fucking privileged and so fucking inneficient and powerless… ‘but it’s alright with, yes it’s alright with me’. Because, after all, who is REALLY satisfied and WHO would not SELL HIS MIND?”

I for one am delighted that this fantastic single was included – I might never have heard it otherwise. Curiously, a lady appears after 90 seconds and speaks in Swedish tongue:

“The simple truth is that some men are hairy, and some are not. Some women have lots of hair, and some don’t. Different races have different patterns for the distribution of hair. The most virile of all men, the tall negro male, is almost entirely lacking body hair.”

What can it all mean? I digress however… the aforementioned culling of material from outwith the album sessions was all Uwe Nettelbeck’s doing and this displeased the group immensely, so much so that founding members Hans-Joachim Irmler and Rudolf Sosna quit before the album was even released. Unfortunate background aside, for punk-minded adventurers, Germany was now well and truly on the map; Can, Neu! and Faust were trailblazing New Wave innovation in a way that was perhaps only equalled in Britain by Roxy Music. Alas, the mild reception afforded “Faust IV” further damaged the group irreparably. When the follow-up, “Faust V”, was rejected by Virgin, producer Uwe Nettlebeck finally lost interest, and they disappeared without trace for decades.

Thankfully, time’s a great healer – they’re fine now and everyone recognises they were always great. Ain’t it a shame it has to be that way?

You can check out the rest of my album reviews for 1973 here.

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