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

This is day two of listening to this extremely experimental piece.  I have to say, some of the things that I initially suspect are coming true.  The narrative is turning into a twisting and turning shaggy-dog story.  As I mentioned on my day one piece, the grandfather of this type of piece is Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.  This is a book I have attempted to read numerous times throughout the years, and have never been successful.  The problem with reading the book isn’t the narrative form or style, rather it is the period in which the novel was written.  I always seem to not quite get a lot of the jokes, an therefore some of the tangents that the narrative is going through.

The other most notable novel which this piece may be compared to is James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.  However, unlike the Sterne novel, I have never attempted to read the James Joyce novel.  However, I have read several other works by James Joyce, and have enough respect for those works to know that it would take an extremely long time to read, and fully understand.  I know there are scholars who have dedicated a substantial portion of their careers to this one book.

My current experience with this piece is similar to my attempted readings of Tristram Shandy.  I seem to be losing track of some of the narrative elements as we twist through the layers of sound collages and musical interpretations.  I suspect, however, that I may be able to understand the piece better if I could focus on it completely.

I did, however, review the release notes on the Headphonica about this piece, and can see now where there is another perspective to the whole concept.  This can also be seen as an audio form story cycle.   This does make it easier to accept that there are different segments to the piece, and that it isn’t necessary to link each segment to the overall piece.  However, I still have my suspicions that there is more to this piece as even Tristram Shandy can be seen as a story cycle.

As it is, even without completely linking the narrative to the sound collages, I am enjoying the piece.  Whether I am in a narrative section, or in the musical sections, I am enjoying the piece.

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




Posted by George De Bruin


  1. Hi Travis,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m working under the assertion that there is some method to the madness behind this work. Of course, I think my listening abilities (at this point) are woefully inadequate to connect all the dots…but I’m trying anyway. 😉

    BTW – looked at your website. Very nice!

  2. having listened to the entire work, i can confirm your suspicions that (on the surface at least) there is little in the way of a comprehensible, continuous linear narrative spanning through the piece. certain themes do appear and re-appear, but its anyone’s guess if there is some deeper meaning hidden behind the images. there are also long sections with no narrative whatsoever, and many scenes which seem unrelated to the ‘main plot’
    in my opinion, its much better to simply enjoy the various scenes and musical passages as they come and not look too hard for connection or cohesiveness.

Comments are closed.