Translating Faust
FAUST : Freispiel : Ravvivando Remixes (Klangbad)

Sometimes a remix is like a translation from one language to another. If it works it carries the essence of the original and adds something, another texture or layer of meaning. At the least it ought to be faithful to the spirit of its origins. The best can create something entirely new, whilst allowing us to hear the debt which is owed to the source.

If any band is ripe for some re-mixing, it is Faust. The elements that combine to form their music have already been through a process involving a stripping down, transformation and reformation both in the studio and in ´live' performance. To offer these elements to those who are influenced by and in sympathy with Faust's working methods seems an ideal situation for both translation and homage.

These remixes of some of the 1999 cd Ravvivando do revitalise an already powerful album and each remixer offers an idiosyncratic take which, in most cases, enhances the original. For example, there are three versions of ´T-Electronique' and all show an affinity with the original whilst delivering something fresh. Mathias Schaffhauser's remix opens the album with a sinuous bass groove stretching the rhythm and shifting the textures of the percussion. It lopes along with some dabs of keyboard to remind you of the original. But it is a relaxed and flexible version. Sofa Surfers fuse it with ´Apokalypse' and again construct a tight groove but also layer in some of the harshness of the keyboard. The Residents have an entirely different approach to the track and take it to places which obviously the band approve of.

Another popular choice, ´Carousel II', doesn't offer any great shift of perspective on Irmler's original giddy organ construction. All three versions are fine but I wondered why they hadn't chosen, perhaps, ´Ein Neuer Tag' to work on instead.

´Four Plus Seven Means Eleven' in its 1999 form featured not only the guitar and keyboards' monstrous walls of fuzz and distortion but also Zappi Diermeier's trademark titanic drumming. In the Howie B remix Zappi is absent. However, this is a sublime piece of radical restructuring. In place of the storm there is a drone over which shreds of keyboard are injected. There is a limpid, bell-like texture that sometimes becomes stretched out into shimmering threads. It offers a complete contrast to the original. The Dax & Pieper version, however, restores some of the swaggering percussion and barbed attack of the ´The Giant Fuzz Machine' that is characteristic of Faust.

There is only one remix of ´Wir Brauchen Dich' and it's by Dave Ball and Ingo Vauk, collectively, ´Gel'. There are other versions available on a single, if you want to seek them all out. Again, the original was a glimpse into the machinery with its slabs of grinding, driven Faust-funk. The remix presents a slightly cleaned up model where the drive is even more emphatic, due to the crispness of the drum sound. The harsh, visceral layers may have been stripped down, to an extent, but they are piled back on in the final minute. This version still acknowledges its origins and is just as exciting.

With Faust apparently no longer operating as a ´live' unit and given Irmler's interest in remixes this could be the start of whole new seam of work from a band that has never really stopped evolving and exploring. I hope so.

© Paul Donnelly 2002