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

So today’s listening was a turning point on The Faust Cycle for me. ¬†Actually, it wasn’t a single turning point, but rather multiple turning points.

First was the introduction of The Faust Cycle Podcast. ¬†My first impression about this was: what a wonderful thing to do. ¬†Sharing this work with a group of kids, getting them the experience of making free-form music, and experimentation. ¬†Getting them excited about the process of recording this type of work. ¬†It’s a completely wonderful way to expand these kids horizons, but also extend the community of the Creative Commons and Libre Culture to another generation.

The inclusion of their podcast in The Faust Cycle itself adds another, very interesting, dimension to the piece.  Those who are familiar with the writings of Jorge Louis Borges, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and James Joyce, to name a very few (it can be argued that I am referring back to Laurence Sterne again as well),  have undoubtedly heard of the term meta-fiction.

Meta-fiction is typically fiction about fiction, or at least is self-aware in one way or another. ¬†The introduction of the podcast in this context adds another type of meta-fictional element: this is now an audio piece that is aware of itself, aware of the elements that have gone into it’s production.

Of Kinetoscopes & Dung

Now, back at the main piece we arrive to the next twist of the narrative: Ergo finds that he has become human again and is no longer a puppet. ¬†He realizes that he has no idea what amount of time has transpired: hours, days weeks? ¬†And he realizes that he’s about to burst, and sets off to find a lavatory to relieve himself. ¬†And, after finding an appropriate room, with one enormous push he is emptied.

While this activity is normal and necessary, he has a realization that he feels more empty than normal, that something is wrong.  While playing a harmonica, trying to figure out what is wrong, he hears wailing from the pipes beneath where his soul has gone with his bowel movement.  After noting the irony, Ergo realizes that he must get his soul back and thus flushes himself down the pipes.

What transpires in the sewage system below can only be described as hellish in ways we haven’t encountered thus far. Ergo watches several kinetoscopes of films about Lucifer, but is unable to decide what they mean. ¬†However, after the 2nd film, he hears a piano off in the distance, and decides to follow the sound to find his soul.

The piano we hear, is the same James Nye piece that has been used throughout: An Evening In Hell.  Ergo finds himself in a ballroom, where many people are dancing and humming.  As he stands in the corner, where only the piano has noticed his presence, he suddenly hears a voice in his ear reciting nonsensical poetry.  He looks around to find the source of the voice, only to find a pig, which when patted squeals and expands to the size of the room then falls to pieces.

Lonely Violin music, and an interpretation of “Le Tango Perpetuel” and “An Evening in Hell” close this section of the piece.


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




Posted by George De Bruin

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