Thursday, March 24, 2016

"The Faust Tapes" by Faust (May, 1973)

Brad's Take:

Well, this is awkward... The Faust Tapes consists of two untitled 20+ minute long songs. Actually, nay. I wouldn't call these "songs." Let's just call them "tracks" as they're basically just a bunch of segements of "stuff" glued together. 

"Stuff" includes: 
- Noise
- Static
- People talking
- Actual songs
- Ambient instrumental interludes
- Creepy vocal things that sound like ghosts crying (actually scary)
- Other sounds I can't describe

Needless to say, this is a very strange (yet interesting) album, and even quite enjoyable, actually. I was not expecting to actually be as entertained as I ended up being. There's some really weird stuff on here. I had fun trying to figure out what they were actually using to make these sounds. The way they blended so many different sounds together and wove all of these weird segments into each other takes some real creativity and artistic vision. It's not as easy as just recording random sounds and calling it an album. The Faust Tapes isn't something you'd put in your car stereo and blast with your windows down with your friends. This is a very unique and interesting that begs for your attention. I'd highly suggest listening to it in headphones so you can experience the stereo mixing. I'm actually kind of sad that it's already over...

Dad's Take:

Interesting history on this one. Faust signed with a new label and part of the agreement was to give the label the recordings they'd done since their previous album for nothing so they could release it at a very low price. The result is an album of fragments pieced together to form a whole.

As the boy said, much of this is actually quite good, kind of a jazzy prog-rock, mixed with some studio experimentation. Some of the experiments remind me of some of Brian Wilson's recordings of chants and musical fooling around during the Smile sessions, mixed with some of John Lennon's sound collages from the last couple years of the Beatles catalog. They work pretty well, for the most part. Most of the fragments are short enough that even the "wayest outest" experiments don't get tedious. The whole thing is actually pretty mesmerizing.

Some of my favorite tracks include "Untitled," "Untitled," "Der Baum," and the surprisingly catchy bit of jazz-funk, "Untitled."

Unlike most of the classics on our list, this is one that completely escaped my attention until we started going through the list. It wasn't part of the seventies air I breathed like many of the other albums. In fact, I wasn't even aware it existed back in the day. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it that much in my early teens. But I like it more than I expected now.

This might not be the record to put on during your next dance party, but it makes for an interesting listen, one that will reveal new discoveries in subsequent spins.

"The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd (March, 1973)

Dad's Take:

March 1, 1973 was a pretty good day in the music world, seeing the release of both John Cale's Paris 1919 and Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.

I've learned a lot doing these reviews, but one of the lessons I've learned is that it's very hard to review a record that has been a cultural icon. This one, arguably the best-known album of the rock and roll era, demands much more attention than I'm going to give it on our little review page.

Between the opening heartbeat that segues into insanity (and I do love records that deal with insanity, whatever that may say about me) and the closing heartbeat that fades into oblivion, are the fantastic sounds that make this a special record. It's so deeply dyed into the fabric of my generation that to review it would be like reviewing the human circulatory system. It's such an ordinary part of existence that we forget how extraordinary it really is.

I really don't even know where to start writing. I'd rather just listen. So, yeah, this review is kind of a punt, but I get to hear this classic again, and that's the best part anyway. You should do the same.

Brad's Take:

It's really strange being from a totally different generation. I didn't really start discovering and getting heavily into music until the mid/late 90's so listening to music that came out in the 70's and earlier is sometimes hard for me to want to do because I just don't understand it a lot of the time. The generation gap has been very evident in a lot of my reviews. I don't try to hide it. I don't say "I don't get it" to sound snobby or anything, it's because I just actually don't get it.

With a lot of these albums we've reviewed, I feel like in order to fully understand why it's a classic album, you needed to be there witnessing all the hype happening in real time. You needed to see the affect it had on the world at the time it was released. You needed to witness the controversy it caused. You needed to be there to see how the music that came afterwards was influenced by one particular band or album, etc. For me, I'm working backwards here. So it's sometimes hard to keep an open mind and pretend that there hasn't already been something influenced by a particular classic album that I would describe as being much better than its source material, if that makes sense. For example, production styles and recording quality in general are so much more crisp and clear now compared to everything before the 80's. There's albums right now that sound better than anything The Beatles put out. Hell, even musicians recording in their bedrooms have better sounding recordings than a lot of these ones we've reviewed! Anyway, I'm rambling and going off topic a bit...

Needless to say, this is my first time listening to Dark Side of the Moon. It's an album I've always known about, but I never had an interest in listening to. I pretty much only knew Pink Floyd for their song "Another Brick in the Wall." I remember seeing the music video on VH-1's Pop Up Video every once in awhile when I was in junior high school.

My initial reaction is: It's weird! It's weird, but also very calming and hypnotic. It's no wonder the stoner kids gravitate towards it.

Although a lot of it is just super long instrumental music and jamming, there are some tracks that stood out to me:

"Time" has a nice funky groove to it which I enjoyed. "Money" is a song I forgot that I knew already, so that was cool to listen to. My favorite track was "Us and Them" though. I loved the choruses. Sounds so big and loud! And the chord changes during the choruses feel reeeeally good. That song was almost 8 minutes long, but it could have been longer and I'd be pleased.

I like how all the songs flow into each other. There's no fadeouts or long pauses. It's all pretty seamless from one song to the next. It makes it a lot easier to sit and listen to the entire album because it feels like you're supposed to. Like it was intended to be that way, which I'm sure was the intention.

While I don't see myself going back to this anytime soon, or feeling the need to dive into Pink Floyd's entire catalog now, it was cool finally giving this album a proper listen. I enjoyed the whole album. This is one of the rare ones we've reviewed where I agree that it should be classified as a classic.