Andy Wilson, "Faust: Stretch Out Time 1970-1975"

Andy Wilson has top notch credentials when it comes to Faust. For years he has been running the Faust Pages, the online Mecca for all things Faustian. The semi-official nature of this site means that he has had good contact with the various members of Faust and presumably he is in a good position to put together a decent biography of the band. Unfortunately Faust: Stretch Out Time 1970-1975 is a disappointing read. There is not enough focus on the band's history, instead Wilson spends more time giving his opinions and descriptions of songs that I suspect most readers of his book will already know intimately.


Faust Pages
Faust's history has always been murky; contradicting recollections from those involved adding to the confusion. As such, a book compiling the alternative histories of Faust could have been a fantastic read but Wilson spends very little time discussing the events at Wümme. There are some details about how Polydor ended up funding Faust and how the albums were recorded but no more than what has been previously published in the booklet that accompanied the 5CD The Wümme Years 1970-73 box set. It is a shame that Wilson did not try to shed more light on this subject, to carry out new interviews with engineer Kurt Graupner and producer Uwe Nettelbeck (whose recent death now puts him beyond the world of interviews).

Instead of a more detailed history of the band, Wilson goes through each album and dissects it track by track. His musings and commentary on the songs are interesting and I agree with a vast majority of them but it's not something I am looking for when I buy a book on Faust. Early on in the book, Wilson makes the point of Faust moving to the seclusion of Wümme in order to escape other music so they would not be influenced by what they heard. However, Wilson then spends much of the book discussing both the influences that affected Faust and the influence Faust had on subsequent generations of musicians. If Faust made music in a relative vacuum it is counter-intuitive spend so much time discussing influences. More details of life at Wümme, how the group wrote the music, how they assembled the albums and the technology at their disposal would have made a far better read. The relationship between the different individuals is not fleshed out very wel eitherl. For example, Arnulf Meifert's dismissal from Faust before the release of So Far is only dealt with in a couple of paragraphs.

Another irritation with Faust: Stretch Out Time 1970-1975 is that despite it being a book on Faust, Wilson spends an inordinate amount of time discussing Frank Zappa. While I agree that his music was an influence on Faust, he need not to be mentioned every few pages. A few mentions would be tolerable were it not for a full chapter about Zappa (unrelated to Faust) tacked on at the end of the book. Granted I am biased on this point as I have no time for Zappa at all but even if it was a chapter on the Velvet Underground (who I have plenty of time for and equally influenced Faust) I would still be peeved. There are enough books out there on Zappa so there's no need to wedge so much about him into the only book on Faust.

This could have been a great (and possibly longer) book but it falls far short of the work it should have been. It is a shame because Wilson is a good writer and knows his stuff when it comes to Faust. The problem with this book is that it is written as a fan's view on the band and not as a "proper" book on the band. However, beggars cannot be choosers, this is it when it comes to books on Faust so I should probably be thankful that someone has actually gone to the trouble in writing one.