Could it be that there's something a bit final about this album? Apart from the fact that it has the word "Last" in the title, the sleeve features a similar image to that of the very first Faust album, suggesting that the group have finally come full circle. Confusingly however, there are two Fausts knocking about at the moment, one featuring Zappi Diermaier and Jean-Herve Peron, the other (this one) 'fronted' by Hans-Joachim Irmler. It has been suggested in certain reports that Faust Is Last may well be a swansong for his incarnation of the group, and one account described these two discs as "their last will and testament" as a band. Frankly, that doesn't sound entirely credible (Faust is for life, surely?), but whatever the future holds for this most uncompromising and iconoclastic of so-called krautrock bands, Faust Is Last would be as good a place as any to wrap up the band's story. Sounding as uncompromising and adventurous as ever, Faust are in magnificent form here. The incredibly sinister intro is a wonderful way of getting reacquainted with the band, combining horror movie xylophone melodies with the ear-shredding din of scraped scrap metal. All this bleeds into 'Imperial Lover', whose space-rock guitars and almost swinging, jazzy drums feel wholly more playful and optimistic - the album only starts to really darken up during the bludgeoning 'Feed The Greed', but the tone remains in flux across the record, shifting in tone and intensity every couple of minutes. There's almost always a roamingly experimental quality at the forefront of the Faust Is Last agenda, but the furious, Stooges-like punk dirge of 'Hit Me' changes all that. Faust are in no uncertain terms rather senior gentlemen by now, and yet they rock harder than just about anyone over the course of this song. The ensuing 'Dolls And Brawls' and subsequent 'Drug Wipe' transfer all that heaviness to the drums, but nothing prepares you for the synapse-melting assault of 'Cluster Fur Cluster', which may or may not be an ironic tribute to the titular ambient pioneers. The second disc marks a structural shift, taking longer, less fragmented ideas and testing them to breaking point. After the head-spinning first disc this second half makes for a highly complimentary re-establishment of focus, charging through improv-driven passages that reveal Faust's remarkable form as a live entity. Let's hope this isn't really the last we'll hear from the band - on the strength of this captivating and sprightly double album, it would seem they've still got plenty of fuel left in the tank.
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