Skip to main content

Faust

Summerhall, Edinburgh
Wednesday November 29th

It may be twenty years since kosmiche deconstructionists Faust almost caused a minor panic by letting off fireworks and flares in an Edinburgh nightclub as part of their performance, but sparks still fly when they come together. This is evident from the new Fresh Air album by what after forty-six somewhat nomadic years since they formed in Wumme, near Hamburg, is now the band's core duo of bass player, vocalist and self-styled 'art-errorist' Jean-Herve Peron and drummer Werner 'Zappi' Diermaier. It's true too in the pair's first Edinburgh show for the best part of a decade (they brought a cement mixer that time) as part of Summerhall's ever-adventurous Nothing Ever Happens Here programme.

Mid-way through the set, Peron stoops low, so his long grey hair is all you see of him before the crunch of the angle-grinder he wields causes cascades of fire to flume into the air. The sparks are dangerously close to both the audience standing less than a foot away, and the woman sat on the lip of the stage, calmly knitting as controlled chaos reigns about her. As the grinder's industrial whirr is heard above Diermaier's martial pounding and the washing machine guitar and keyboards of a third band-mate, it becomes the centre of a monumental rhythm section that also creates its own spectacle.

The quartet, knitter included, began the night with the extended drone of Rund Ist Schoen, in which
bowed guitar and bass built a relentless path anchored by the wilfully rudimentary repetitions of Diermaier's drum patterns. After a brief pause in which a beatific and twinkly-eyed Peron thanks pretty much everybody, it seems the sheet of metal hanging next to Diermaier's kit isn't miked up loud enough. When it eventually clangs into life, it is with a vigour that puts paid to any misconceptions that, just because Peron, at least, is prone to making light banter inbetween songs, Faust are in any way whimsical.

The band are joined onstage by seemingly unlikely support act, James Yorkston, the Fife-based singer-song-writer who earlier had played a solo set of songs peppered with downbeat warmth. With Faust, as Peron jabbers in French over a distorted guitar melody, Yorkston growls into the microphone, before reading from a sheet of paper in front of him.

Fresh Air's title track is a furious call to arms for something purer than the world can currently offer. As a gruff-voiced Peron declaims the names of nations with the fervour of a street-corner preacher, getting back to nature becomes not so much a global village idyll as a necessary and more practical way of being. This is illustrated on the screen behind by footage of potatoes being peeled and hung-out sheets blowing in the wind. Such images of everyday zen may seem at odds with the righteous ferocity of Peron's outburst, but they also help illustrate the two sides of Faust.

On the one side, there are the short stabs of metal-punk guitar riffage given a primal, bass and drum-led edge. On the other, there are the low-attention span sonic cut-ups, which fuse onstage instrumental experiments with found sounds. While this is where the angle-grinder and the knitter comes in, these are never scattershot. A collage of a recorded monologue that sounds like it could be a broadcast of Samuel Beckett or James Joyce is off-set by noises off that are calculated enough to occupy an experimental radio slot.

All this is delivered by Peron and a passive but crucial Diermaier with a collective charm that debunks the image of po-faced experimentalism with good-humoured warmth. Yorkston returns to play a twin guitar acoustic waltz with Peron, love and anarchy are on Peron's mind, and self-mocking monster-sized wig-out, Krautrock, gives way to images of the sea and a plea for humanity as the sounds conjured up seems to shimmer with life.

“Listen to the fish,” is Peron's final advice, before donning a pink-hued bobble hat knocked up by the knitting lady over the previous ninety minutes. As closing gambits go, after the mind-expanding cacophony that went before, this is hippy wisdom worth listening to.

Product, November 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…