Initially formed in 1971 and comprised of Werner “Zappi” Deirmaier, Hans Joachim Irmler, Arnulf Meifert, Jean-Hervé Péron, Rudolf Sosna and Gunther Wüsthoff, German sextet Faust developed an internationally recognized reputation for a sound and aesthetic that proudly defied genre conventions and expectations — and perhaps most important as being pioneers of a sound that critics have since dubbed krautrock. Adding to their reputation of pioneering a new sound and eventually a new genre, the German band was one of the first acts to sign with Richard Branson‘s Virgin Records. And as the story goes, after Virgin Records rejected what was slated to be the band’s fifth full-length effort, the band broke up — with the individual members of the band largely disappearing from the public. Other than a handful of shows sometime in the 80s and the release of Patchwork, a compilation of outtakes, which featured three pieces the band recorded in the early 80s, the band’s whereabouts and what they were even up to were shrouded in mystery until the trio of Irmler, Diermaier and Péron began performing reunion shows in the early 1990s. But despite the questions regarding Faust’s whereabouts, the band’s recorded output maintained a level of interest and curiosity among krautrock fans and newer fans as Recommended Records reissued and re-released their four full-length efforts, as well as releasing unreleased material and a variety of compilations.
Interestingly, since their reunion in the early 1990s, the band has managed to be remarkably prolific, although they’ve managed to record and tour with a variety of different lineups and members with the most recent effort being 2010’s Faust Is Last.
“Jennifer,” off their fourth and aptly titled album Faust IV is a song that defies conventional songwriting and structure at every single turn. The song eschews the familiar format of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, coda for a series of distinct movements held together with a propulsive rhythm section. And as you listen to the song, you’ll hear a band that tackles minimalist drone and noise rock, jazz fusion and creaky, old-timey vaudeville with an unexpected turn of a musical phrase to create something that’s mind-bendingly trippy and unexpected.
Although the Birmingham, AL-based trio Wray formed a little over two years ago, the individual members of the band, David Brown (bass and vocals), Blake Wimberly (drums) and David Swatzell (guitar) have been mainstays in their local music scene, performing in a number of musical projects including Last Flight In, Comrade, Waterfall and several others. However, Wray has been a sonic departure from Brown’s, Wimberly’s and Swatzell’s previous work as the trio have developed a national profile for a textured, atmospheric shoegazer rock sound; in fact, the band’s debut effort was released to critical praise from media outlets such as The New York Times and MOJO — and they made appearances on MTVu and Daytrotter.
The members of the Birmingham AL-based trio have spent the past year writing, revising and then recording the material that would eventually comprise their soon-to-be released and highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Hypatia, which the renowned and eclectic Birmingham, AL-based indie label Communicating Vessels Records will release on January 15, 2016. Co-produced by the band and Lynn Bridges, who has worked with Jack Oblivian, Devendra Banhart and Dan Sartain, the album reportedly has the band making what they believe is their most cohesive effort yet with the material fitting into a particular mood as the band explored subtle contrasts.
Hypatia‘s latest single coincidentally is a somewhat stripped down cover of Faust’s “Jennifer” that turns the expansive and structure defying song into a slow-burning, minimalist and shoegazey meditation on the Jennifer that the song’s narrator seems to adore; however, Wray’s cover managed to possess a wistful, melancholic feel, as though Jennifer has become part of the narrator’s past that they can never get back.
Check out how Wray’s cover stands up against Faust’s original below.