Faust are like the anti-Who: only the rhythm section remains. Not all the other members have passed, but drummer Werner Diermaier and bassist Jean-Hervé Péron are the only founders who play on their latest effort. Maybe it's unfair to judge this release against records made by a full complement of German hippies 40 years ago, but even with the past set aside, it's a bummer. It lacks the playfulness of the early Faust records, where the band's experiments with jazz, folk, and raunchy rock and roll were coated with acceptable degrees of avant-garde theatricality. Here, Diermaier, Péron, and their partners James Johnston (from Gallon Drunk and the Bad Seeds) and artist Geraldine Swayne stick to listless noise-rock improvisations. Opener "Tell the Bitch To Go Home" is telling - a five-note bass-and-organ pattern thuds along forthrightly as guitar noise gradually expands and collapses on the edges. Like the album, it's neither minimal nor maximal enough, settling for an indeterminate middle ground that doesn't quite satisfy. "Dampfauslass 2" builds up a fine jam that ends too early. Swayne's vampy vocals would sink "Lost the Signal" if it weren't already an aimless slog. The second track, "Herbststimmung," might be the best; this soothing feedback blur could easily have fit on 71 Minutes of Faust
. In the end, Something Dirty
is a minor footnote to a legendary discography.