The only thing more surprising than the fact that Faust has, more or less, been around since the early 70’s is the fact that their newest album, Something Dirty, has the impatience and frustrating inconsistency of a group that formed yesterday. It’s hard to say exactly what number album Something Dirty is in Faust’s catalogue, because there is a whole ordeal about the group splitting into two bands with the same name, both releasing albums that fans debate whether which if any are released by the Faust of kraut-rock yore. And if this creative fissure had any effect on the music that this version of Faust has created, it’s pretty obvious. Something Dirty is a hodgepodge of disparate guitar squawks, jaunting atmospherics and foreign voices so ripe with youthful vigor it often collapses under the weight of its own lunacy.
The reason why I see Something Dirty’s chaos as more or less endearing is because, when I listen to the album, I cannot help but have glimmers of hope that Faust will tout out something cohesive when really cool ideas keep popping up. Regardless of how misguided the songs of Something Dirty are, their components are great in their own right, and, when thrown into a complete package as opposed to an aimless void, the results are astonishing. “Lost the Signal” ebbs and flows beautifully as a ballad sung by a whispery female voice. The chugging guitars and determined percussion of “Dampfauslass II” could be turned into great post-punk. But “Damfauslass II” simply peters out in two and a half minutes, its concept dashed away to make room for the next musical hiccup. Unfortunately, such is the story of the tracks that precede it.
So make a mixtape of melodic sound bytes interspersed with intriguing but ultimately pointless tape fuzz and recorded machinery and you have Something Dirty, an album that would be pretty good if it could stand to pause and focus before thrusting itself into seven-minute ambient odysseys and minute-long affronts to tonality. Something Dirty isn’t an album to be enjoyed, but to be referenced. Through it, we see both how Faust has evolved in the past forty years and what they might think of next. Do groups this old make transitional records? If not, then kudos to Faust for setting the standard.