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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl"

Faust - "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" (1972)

Faust was one of the earliest bands signed to Richard Branson's fledgling Virgin Records.

OK, so clearly we've started with some drums, it's a raw sound, you can hear that on some beats the drummer is hitting harder than others, and you can hear the actual "tone" of the drum and not just the percussive hit. The piano part that comes in is only marginally more complex than the drums, in that they play the same note 15 times then one different note, at the same time the drummer hits the drum a little harder. The vocalists that come in sound like they are being recorded on one mike, a little too far away and then the guitar comes in. The second acoustic guitar adds the most complexity so far, and it's about two minutes in when you realize that this song is over seven minutes long, and you just might be listening to some experimental college rock that no one expected anyone else to ever listen to.

Krautrock is the genre name given to a German based highly experimental sound that has no real other binding definition. Some of it is more like jazz, other stuff is more like progressive classical, and then this is sort of an ambient, layers of sound thing. After building a basic sound of drums, keyboard, and vocals, we get several different layers. The guitar starts as something different, giving us hints of complexity, but eventually just becomes another layer. The vocals too go in and out, but for the most part are just another bass layer. About halfway through the song, faint electronic keyboard sounds and the wind start, eventually getting louder until they push everything else into a drone in the back of your mind. It's the kind of sound a Hollywood executive would want a scene of a Native American or Hippie meditation/psychedelic scene to have going on over it. A totally unexpected harmonica solo breaks the drone and suddenly the vocals that you hadn't noticed had disappeared are back in. Then a saxophone reminds you that you are listening to experimental music as the whole thing ends rather abruptly after a short fade out. You are left sitting and wondering "what did I just listen to?"

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