LIVE: Faust @ Union Chapel, London

Playing their seminal album IV in full, the German pioneers produced a sermon-like show of mesmerising sound collages, the kind that crowned them as the improvisational krautrock icons in the first place.
Posted: 17 November 2021 Words: Georgia Spanos

On Monday evening, London's Union Chapel welcomed original German jammers, Faust, into their halls, as they filled the chambers with ambient landscapes, tape loops, shortwave radios, and other mesmerising sound collages and noise techniques that crowned Faust the as improvisational krautrock legends they are today.

The band performed their masterpiece album, IV, from start to finish, which was first recorded in 1973 in Oxfordshire. It was around this time that the British press coined the term “krautrock”, encapsulating the experimental music coming out of Germany at the time. And although krautrock spanned across an array of genres, Faust sat at the movement’s fore, having influenced a huge amount of ambient and industrial music today.

The crowd quickly filled the chapel amidst green and blue lights, as we waited in anticipation for the band’s presence. Some fans refused to sit, standing and waiting for the band to appear. It was clear that we had ourselves a cult-following crowd. We then heard the sounds of birds, winds and nature. “Dream me a name, and I’ll answer to it”, were the words that played over the crowd, and the band (Jean-Hervé Péron, Amaury Cambuzat, Pierre Chevalier and a strong armour of session musicians) walked through the haze and to their instruments.

The track ‘Krautrock’ defines the genre in an over twelve-minute compilation of regular and not-so-regular sounds, feeling joyous with its open, free-spirited vibrations, yet holding structure with a catchy beat held down by the 18-year-old drummer. Then came ‘The Sad Skinhead’ with its ska rhythm, wacky springs and guitar fills that help heads bop away in its undefined parameters. ‘Jennifer’ is the band’s most celebrated track, which was evident in the crowd when the melody erupted -- they roared and screamed. The song’s beating bassline and psych ballad forever have our hearts.

Péron and his band then led us in a series of flamenco hand claps which helped them keep time through ‘Giggy Smile’, an odd but catchy creation with acoustic guitar and gentle electronics. We again joined the band by singing “ooo” in ‘It's a Bit of a Pain’; its humble guitar buzz and melodies being a favourite composition of the evening. 

When the band finally concluded, we’d forgotten we were at a gig all together and soon realised we were sitting in Union Chapel in what ironically felt like a service as it transpired to the audience. The crowd left feeling soft and blessed. Blessed not only that IV was born, but that Faust were able to come together, to recreate the music that defined a genre, and the music we all enjoy today. 

To hear more from Faust, click here.

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