Faust – Something Dirty

written by: March 4, 2011
Faust Something Dirty Album Cover Release Date: February 1, 2011


It’s hard to review Faust, because the album form means nothing to Something Dirty, the experimental pioneers’ latest effort. To call it an album is to call a mixtape the same. But an album implies more, doesn’t it? It implies a cohesive whole, something that manages to convey a theme through its similar and disparate moments.

While Faust certainly got the title of the “album” right, Something Dirty has less to do with sitting down and absorbing music than marveling at the craftsmanship and effort that such a collection of songs takes to put together. In this way, Something Dirty is actually remarkably egotistical, as it forces its listeners to absorb sounds that they aren’t used to and process them as a reflection of Faust’s true brilliance and dedication to their craft.

But, in a way, Faust’s egotistical turn, the turn that led them to create such a scattershot album, is one of Something Dirty’s biggest strengths.

Because they are mostly instrumental, Faust can be grouped with some of the more important post-rock bands of the last decade with its frantic sonic shifting. The opening track greatly resembles Mogwai, while the second could be a more steel-plated Sigur Ros. When listening to Something Dirty, one gets the feeling that they’re listening to a grab bag, almost a odds ‘n’ sods collection of Faust’s ideas that never quite made it past the cutting room table.

Just so, the record reveals itself to be a “pick a few, leave the rest” treasure trove, providing instant gratification to those fans who love Faust’s shorter bursts, the turns toward French spoken word poetry, or even the attempts to make melody out of brutal guitar slices. Because Faust helped invent Krautrock, it’s also fun to know how backwardly referential Something Dirty sounds–Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born was birthed from Jeff Tweedy listening a bit too closely to songs like this.

So Something Dirty is less about itself as a whole and more about what it means to others and what individual tracks mean to listeners.

From the chopped and screwed Explosions in the Sky remix on the title track, there are points at which Faust seem almost ready to burst into the room with an anthem, defying even the band’s own formula. Of course that moment never comes, and whatever anthem is to be gleaned from Something Dirty can be found in the repeated, mumbled phrases under a tunnel of reverb as the album closes.There are non-starter tracks, most of which come from the more finely diced second half (a prime example is “Whet,” which seems like a failed experiment gone too far, if Faust are capable of such a thing).

“Invisible Mending” flirts with actual harmony, melody and hook, but ends up detracting from the album in its distracting popiness. It would be a highlight on any other album, but here the comfortable interplay between vocals and bass seems ugly. When living in the world of Faust, pretty is a machete and ugly is a glass of scotch in a lounge bar. Ultimately, each successive song detracts more from its previous one, leading to a fairly unsatisfactory and empty experience when all is said and done. After “La Sole Doree,” it’s hard to imagine the platform Krautrock pulse that was “Tell the Bitch to Go Home.” “Dampfauslass 1” and “Dampfauslass 2” asked to be viewed together, yet when actually done, neither seems particularly noteworthy because they are both so disparate.

In the end, Something Dirty is, unsurprisingly, a cold experience that leaves a listener as such. It’s a wonder to behold in its more technical achievements—the ways Faust get some of the sounds they do would make Jonny Greenwood go slack-jawed. But technical achievements mean little to music nowadays. Clapton is a technical genius, but people figured out long ago that he’s actually quite boring to listen to once you have the shtick down. Faust are the same way. Once you know that you’re going to hear weird things that don’t fit together, Something Dirty feels just as it should.

Listeners are desensitized to the world of Faust, which is why a song like “Save the Last One” is so refreshing. Sounding like an outtake from Abbey Road, it reminds the listener that there is life outside the maze of mystical instruments inSomething Dirty; and more than likely, that world is a lot more rewarding than a collection of songs served artificially, brutally cold.

Faust –Something Dirty tracklist

  1. “Tell the Bitch to Go Home”
  2. “Herbststimmung”
  3. “Thoughts of the Dead”
  4. “Lost the Signal”
  5. “Je Bouffe”
  6. “Whet”
  7. “Invisible Mending”
  8. “Dampfauslass I”
  9. “Dampfauslass II”
  10. “Pythagoras”
  11. “Save the Last One”
  12. “La Sole Dorée”