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Faust (English: "fist") are a German krautrock band. Formed in 1971 in Wümme, the group was originally composed of Werner "Zappi" Diermaier, Hans Joachim Irmler, Arnulf Meifert, Jean-Hervé Péron, Rudolf Sosna and Gunther Wüsthoff, working with record producer Uwe Nettelbeck and engineer Kurt Graupner.
Faust formed in 1971 in the rural setting of Wümme. They secured a recording contract with Polydor and soon began recording their debut, Faust, which sold poorly but received critical acclaim for its innovative approach and established a devoted fanbase. After Meifert was sacked, the band recorded its second, slightly more accessible album So Far. Faust became one of the premier bands in the international appreciation of the genre that would eventually be known as krautrock.
Faust became one of the first acts to sign to Richard Branson's Virgin Records, who embarked on a marketing campaign somewhat daring for its time, aimed at introducing Faust to British record-buyers. The Faust Tapes was a cut-and-paste album, which spliced together a large number of bits and pieces from their extensive collection of private recordings not originally intended for release. Virgin issued it at the then price of a single, 48 pence. The Faust Tapes reportedly sold over 100,000 copies but its low price tag rendered it ineligible for a chart placing.
After collaborating with Tony Conrad on the album Outside the Dream Syndicate, Faust recorded Faust IV at Virgin's studios in England. The band broke up in 1975 after Virgin rejected its fifth album (some of the recordings later appeared on the Munich and Elsewhere album), but reissues of their recordings and various additional material through Chris Cutler's Recommended Records maintained a level of interest.
Faust experimented with the presentation of their early records. Their first album was originally released on clear vinyl, in a clear sleeve with an X-ray of a human fist silkscreened on the outer sleeve. Their second album, So Far, made extensive use of the color black, though inside the sleeve were sheets with a different illustration for each song. The Faust Tapes had a visually unsettling op art cover design by Bridget Riley, while that for Faust IV consisted of a series of blank music staves.
1975–90: breakup and "disappearance"
After Faust's breakup, the group's whereabouts were unknown; the Recommended Records catalogues talked about the group's "disappearance". The official Web site lists three concerts during the 1980s, and the "Patchwork" album, a compilation of outtakes, feature three snippets that were recorded in the 1980s, but apart from that, the group's activities between 1975 and 1990 remain shrouded in mystery.
1990–present: reunion and after
In 1990 and 1992, members Irmler, Diermaier and Péron reunited for performances. In 1994, Faust toured the United States for the first time, with Péron and Diermaier assisted by Steven Wray Lobdell and with members of Sonic Youth as an opening act. Irmler did not participate in the 1994 US tour, but took a more active role after that, producing the groups' records and releasing them on his Klangbad label. He also compiled and edited the "Patchwork" remix album in 2002. Sosna's chronic alcoholism ended a brief reunion with Faust "after four or five exhausting days", and he died on 10 November 1996. Gunter Wüsthoff has not taken part in any of the reunions. They have continued to perform in various combinations and with various additional musicians ever since, with Diermaier always behind the drum kit.
In 1996, Diermaier and Péron met Olivier Manchion and Amaury Cambuzat from French group Ulan Bator. They performed for the first time together as "Collectif Met(z)" in November 1996 (this quartet became the basis of a later Faust line-up and this concert was part of a 2005 release). A few days after, Faust performed at the Garage in London and at the Transmusicales de Rennes, featuring Chris Cutler.
After two studio albums, Péron left the group in June 1997. From mid-1997 to 2004, Faust toured as Zappi W. Diermaier, Hans Joachim Irmler, Steven Wray Lobdell, Lars Paukstat and Michael Stoll, releasing many more studio and live albums.
Diermaier and "art-errorist" Péron reunited in 2005, when Zappi proposed that they start a "new" Faust together with Olivier Manchion and Amaury Cambuzat from Ulan Bator. Faust now exists in two completely different incarnations, both active and each reflecting different aspects of the original group. Uwe Nettelbeck died on 17 January 2007.
Diermaier/Péron's new Faust made their debut at the 2005 Art-Errorist Avant Garde festival in Schiphorst, Germany, where they also presented a new release entitled Collectif Met(z), a collection including concerts from 1996 and 2005 and unreleased solo songs. They also recorded Trial and Error, released on DVD in 2007 by the Fuenfundvierzig Label. This incarnation of the group has been extremely active, releasing several CD-Rs and DVD-Rs and touring extensively, including a very successful autumn 2005 UK tour, released in 2007 as ... In Autumn by Dirter. This release also features ex Henry Cow saxophonist/flautist Geoff Leigh, vocalist Lucianne Lassalle, poet Zoë Skoulding and the members of the Welsh group Ectogram. The trio of Diermaier, Péron and Cambuzat performed at a Rock in Opposition festival in France in April 2007. This trio lineup also recorded a new album entitled Disconnected which was mixed by Steven Stapleton and Colin Potter of Nurse with Wound. It was released to tie in with the 2007 Schiphorst Avant Garde festival in July 2007. C'est com... com... compliqué, the second album from these sessions was released in February 2009 on the Bureau B label. In 2011, Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi W. Diermaier and the British artists Geraldine Swayne and James Johnston recorded a new Faust studio album, Something Dirty.
In 2010, Faust with members Hans Joachim Irmler, Steven Wray Lobdell, Lars Paukstat, Michael Stoll and Jan Fride released a new studio album, Faust Is Last.
During the Wümme years, Diermaier, Péron and Wüsthoff played on Slapp Happy's first two albums, Sort Of (1972) and Acnalbasac Noom (1973) which were also produced by Uwe Nettelbeck. Slapp Happy's Peter Blegvad had played with Faust in Wümme and subsequently toured with them in the UK. That tour also featured Uli Trepte, who had performed with Guru Guru and Neu!.
In contrast with Slapp Happy's song-based music, in 1972 Diermaier, Péron and Sosna also collaborated with the violinist Tony Conrad on Outside the Dream Syndicate; the record was released in 1973 at a low price in the UK and was, at the time, one of the few available examples of drone-based minimalism. A live recording from a 1995 concert, entitled Outside the Dream Syndicate Alive featuring Tony Conrad, Zappi Diermaier & Jean-Hervé Péron of Faust and Jim O'Rourke was released in Autumn 2005.
Faust collaborated with New Jersey avant-garde hip-hop crew Dälek for the album Derbe Respect, Alder in 2004.
Jean-Hervé Péron collaborated with THEME and Zsolt Sores on a MLP called 'Poison Is (Not) The Word' released on the Lumberton Trading Company label in 2012, and in 2013 Faust recorded 'Live at Clouds Hill' with Omar Rodríguez-López.
Faust at a RIO festival in France, April 2007