Think vocal harmonies. Think Elizabethan pop. Think fretboard wizardry. Think the Melodeon. If you can think all of that, then you have just conjured the dark and peculiar Modeival world that is Faustus.
Comprised of three of the most pivotal players in the English roots revival of the past decade, Faustus boast a trio of travelling minstrels whose musical Curriculum Vitae is frankly intimidating…
Saul Rose – probably the best Melodeon player in the country - best known for his work with the Kings of Calicutt and Waterson Carthy, has been lured out of semi-retirement to play a part in what promises to be a major force in traditional music; a welcome relief to all fans of English roots. Saul takes on Melodeon and singing duties. A player involved with traditional music via a morris dancing past; from playing music for dancing and the dancing itself, and has been doing so for pretty much all of his life. He has been playing melodeon for all of his life at least…if not longer. Spotted by Eliza Carthy in the early 90s he was then asked to join Waterson Carthy. Saul has worked with so many people that it could indeed be said that he is a musical whore – of the very highest quality naturally! Head Coaxers take the form of Paul Sartin and Benji Kirkpatrick; Paul, a hugely versatile and classically trained musician who counts Belshazzars Feast and Christchurch Cathedral Choir amongst his many musical outings. Paul takes fiddle, oboe, vocal, questionable gladrags and inimitable jazz MC technique duties for both Faustus and the now infamous bellowhead. A mammoth musical brain, Paul found his way into folk via 70s folk rock outfits, such as Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Jethro Tull, and then by some mystical twist of fate, discovered that he has ancestors that had folk songs collected from them over 100 years ago…and he has lovely hair.
The final piece of the Faustus puzzle is Benji Kirkpatrick, who takes the role of self-styled ‘fretboard wizard’. Born of two folk musicians, Benji initially sauntered into the world of rock – sticking with Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix for many years - forming various staple bands in his youth. His interests eventually became more quiet and acoustic in orientation and one of his many bands - The Hedgerows - found themselves with a track featured on one of the hugely influential Evolving Tradition albums (Mrs Casey). In 2001/03, Benji was a member of the Oysterband Big Session playing alongside Eliza Carthy, Jim Murray, Rose Kemp, Cara Dillon and Seth Lakeman. Lending his talents to the Mercury-nominated Seth Lakeman on many duo/trio projects and tours, and being a fully paid-up member of the mighty bellowhead (in situ as Band in Residence @ London’s Southbank Centre), Benji is the perfect finishing touch to this power of three.
The band doesn’t give much thought to their position in the new young contemporary folk scene. They have no agenda except for simply trying to make good music, music that is accessible, and music that’s not too esoteric or egocentric.
Drawing inspiration from everything that they hear, the ethereal and eclectic Faustus have recently toured the UK with LAU and are garnering similar applause and attention from their dynamic live shows; a burning alchemy of staggering musical sorcery, humour and excitable energy – don’t expect to simply be politely tapping your foot, instead prepare to be ravaged by the music of Faustus.