Review: The Sadnesses – Fäustchenamt (self-released, Mar 26)

Collaging, at its heart, is the art of combining various elements to create a new whole, one that both retains the identities of the things used to create it and takes on one of its own. Fäustchenamt presents collages on two fronts: its aggressively harlequin album cover constructs a mishmash of pink, red, and orange food products that surrounds more patchy combinations of photographs of buildings and a human body; and, of course, the music, which takes the form of seventeen delirious hodgepodges of field recordings, deconstructed musical performance, disarming electronic textures, and the occasional funky hip-hop beat. Even before listening to the album you could probably assume it to be overwhelming, an assumption with which I would agree, but the enigmatic Berlin artist(s?) known only as The Sadnesses aren’t just throwing things at the wall (or your ears) and seeing what sticks. Each short track is a carefully composed conversation of disparate sounds, and really the only overwhelming thing is how dizzyingly varied the sonic palette really is; once the initial bewilderment at bizarre fusions of cut-up conversations and guitar solos (“These Bags of Vanity”), or the mass of static that tears apart the surreal pop pastiche of “Lance Armstrong,” or uncanny harmonies between violins and what sounds like the rocking of a boat (“Swimless Fish”)—yes, all that occurs in that less than four minute stretch—wears off, there are some truly sublime moments to be found. At the very least Fäustchenamt is often downright hilarious. If you’re a fan of the dada totalism of LAFMS bands like Le Forte Four, this will be right up your alley.

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