Title: The Faust Cycle (or The House of Dr. Faustus)
Artist: Ergo Phizmiz
Release Date: 2009
Label: Headphonica
License: CC BY-NC-SA

Ergo Phizmiz & Firends have an accomplishment that is possibly the most insane thing I have seen yet: they have produced a 14+ hour piece and released it on the netlabel Headphonica.  So the question becomes, how do you listen to such a piece?  Well, for me, the best way I can think of approaching the piece is to break it up into 14 sections that are about an hour each, and try to listen to it over 14 days…  So, as I do this, I plan to try to write something each day on the experience.

Today was day one, and I was immediately amused by the piece.  We start out with a narrative about a gentlemen that has been hired to deliver a package to Dr. Faustus.  Upon arriving at the house, he is confronted with a choice of three staircases to ascend in order to find Dr. Faustus and deliver the package in person.  Our narrator has told us of his desire to actually meet, and possibly have a conversation with Dr. Faustus as he appears to be a kind of genius of a sort, the kind of person that one doesn’t meet every day.

A series of events, meetings, observations, and other things happens as the narrator goes from room to room searching for the Dr.  Some of the things include observing Marcel Duchamp lecturing a room of people in bird outfits, an encounter with another person in a hallway wearing a bird outfit, overhearing two film makers in some kind of an argument, and watching a string quartet ride into the foyer of the house, and start performing a Janacek piece behind the arguing film makers.

Welcome to the world of the truly avant garde.  By the end of the first hour, I was being treated to a collage of bells, chimes, music boxes, a barely perceptible spoken words, and a Tuvan throat singer. To be honest, by this point, I had lost the thread of narrative that linked together all of the music sections.  But, honestly, I wasn’t concerned about it.  I was engrossed with the concept of the world that I had been taken into, and the concepts of the overall piece.

My initial impression of the piece was that I was being presented with a narrative ala Laurence Sterne’s The Life And Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, using the old Adventure computer game as a starting point, and visually evoking an M.C. Escher painting.

This provides a complicated basis to work from for the artist, and makes this something of a piece that I suspect I will just have to go with the experience of.  Of course, it is too early to say if there is an overall theme that will emerge from the piece.  I suspect that I will have to make it through the complete first chunk (literally what the artist named the sections of the piece) before I will have a feeling for the overall structure of the piece.  But, my first impression, is that the narrative of the first portion that I listened to is a red herring…a hook to get me into the piece, and will likely not remain a focus during the remainder of the piece.

Ergo Phizmiz: The Faust Cycle (or The House of Dr. Faustus)




Posted by George De Bruin


  1. wow, you are certainly planning a much more dedicated review of the work than i attempted. i listened to [most of] the whole 14 hours over a period of a week or so and i will be very interested to hear your impressions of it!

    1. I have my 2nd Day coming out in a little bit. I’m finding it a bit more difficult to get listening time today (thus far). Hopefully I’ll get some time this afternoon.


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