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Katzenjammer Kabarett, a young French four-piece, returns with their second release - Grand-Guignol & Variétés- and a firmer pop approach mixing incredible stories and catchy melodic hooks. Be it deathrock, electro, punk or dark-cabaret, they are here to charm you, seduce you, and leave you merrily twitching to their infectious songs. About the musical style, perhaps the best is to guess it for yourself! Mary Komplikated's sultry vocals ride atop their Dadaesque, Avant-Garde blend of sounds: the din created by Herr Katz, Klischee and Mr. Guillotine.
On this follow-up to their 2006 debut (reissued on Projekt), Katzenjammer Kabarett (this French band with a German name and English lyrics) shows their sensibility for the diletante and frivolous aesthetic of several past movements. Their compositions revel in varied and various collages, utilizing electronic, pop, deathrock, and classical-music sounds as well as traditional cabaret songs to generate the peculiar atmosphere one probably found in old fashioned Lieder (the German art songs from the Nineteenth-century). A considerable part of their work comes from second-hand elements borrowed from several preceding movements and styles, but whose signs had been systematically altered and distorted. Thus, the music composed by Klischee, supported by H.K..'s lyrics and Mr. Guillotine's necessary pragmatism, creates an alchemy with the carefree Miss Mary K's voice and theatrical singing which embodies all the magic, the cynism and the absurdity of the hangover cabaret.
Katzenjammer Kabarett arrives at a furiously modern sound still colored with electronics but more baroque - it can speak to and charm anyone. Grand-Guignol & Variétés nevertheless devises an embroidery of unheard and original melodies. Fresh and more mature, the album offers a new serial of songs with efficient melodies, though often with complex structure (breaks, surprising beats, dissonances), and strange lyrics tinted with cruel and absurd realism merrily sung. No longer are we mere listeners as Katzenjammer Kabarett carries us to their weird universe. However Grand-Guignol & Variétés is not a rejection of reality but rather transforms it into new dimensions by introducing non-mimetic, non-realistic artful constructions instead of faithful imitation, by the use of ironic distancing, by denying emotional identification and by portraying contrast (for example in "Hidden & Sick," Little Henry's tragic end in contrast to the music).
Elegant as the KK members themselves, the lyrics on Grand-Guignol & Variétés are a juxtaposition of concepts. The band explains, "The stories we tell deal with a main character who is, we think, always a kind of artist, someone with a different vision of the world, and sometimes, the will to make his surrounding look like his fantasy or the way he thinks things should be. This main character is placed in conflict with secondary ones in order to confront his point of view. From the clashing of these individualities always comes the absurdity of their behavior; be they pushed by sexual frenzy (like in "Romance"), by snobish mockery (as in "Sunlight sanatorium"), jealousy (as in "Collage"), incapacity to make a decision (as in "10 years"), unconditional and even masochisitic love ("a Real Gentleman") or blinded by an artistic vision ("Percy has returned"). The result of their desires, fears or what-have-you is always absurd. That said, the stories have to be kept away from psychology, though we can not deny the characters all have a distorted brain, it is not what interests us. We could not write about the feelings of such or such character, his motivations, about his being different, his loneliness etc. Who cares? What interests us is to create the situations in which they can be shown as they are at their best."
As English speakers, the question must be raised regarding the band's intention with the title, "Grand Guignol & Variétés." Sent to investigate, here is what there is to report:
Grand Guignol - A style of macabre, horrific melodrama, popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, featuring women in peril, ghosts or horrific murders.
Variétés - Translates as "variety." In France this word represents "popular" music which is liked by all population classes. Much like "variety show" in America.
And to clarify, the band adds, "The name of this album is the best description we could have found for this material. It is filled with irony, if not fumisme."
Scratching heads, the chorus asks, "fumisme!?!"
Katzenjammer replies: "Mmhh "fumisme" is the literary movement which created the modern humour form. It's typically French and was created at the end of the 19th century in Paris by the writers and artists."
Google to the rescue! "An aesthetic trend that ran counter to late nineteenth-century realism and naturalism — the aestheticism and internationalism registering against the bovine hyper-masculinity and nationalism characteristic. An extreme parody." As Georges Fragerolle wrote back then, fumisme had the goal of "cutting open the smug sky under an act of textual interpretation, a partial rendering implicated in ideology, and an exercise of power. As It was the way that culture seemed unable to account for the circulation of people or things across its conceptual borders, no matter how hybrid or porous such borders are imagined to be."
Ah yes, now I see (?).
he band returns to the scene, to explain:
"On one side, there is the 'Grand-Guignol,' all incoherent, all ambiguous. The mood, the music, the atmosphere skips from one thing to an other. The album questions the listening, the songs, not only from one track to another, but also in their inner structure, linked with anxiety, expectation – what will come next? – for indeed it is topsy-turvy. The music, the lyrics and the artwork skim cruelty and buffoonery, in their transversal composition that overgo formal frameworks, however keeping close to them. Grand-Guignol & Variétés tells cruel tales, love stories or nothing at all. And it all swings between integration and subversion, abuses and praises, which brings us to the 'Variétés:' variety where subversion lies in the will not to take any style with seriousness and to play with all works by the means of parody or plagiarism, treating this last as a form of art."
"In the lyrics, we try to evoke a feeling of the strangeness of existence. The tales, the stories then can be built, constructed. They build themselves thanks to formal games or laws of chance, like dada writing. We are just here to help the words fit approximately with human language, remembrances of things read or thought, while Miss Mary K. rearranges them to fit with the music. Though all this seems to create a dream-like world, there are common themes in our songs. For instance the setting is often the same. The action is usually set in relative common places, like the street, staircases, bedroom, dining rooms, and gardens. Katzenjammer Kabarett's lyrics consist of humour, playfulness, parody, free borrowings and chance associations. We always hated sentimentality, real life stories and lyricism, and therefore the 'lyrics' are an attempt to liberate the song from realistic psychology, to put it on the same basis as modern art and music."
For 2009, Grand-Guignol & Variétés shows a wider range of Katzenjammer Kabarett compositions blended into an uncanny, intoxicating mixture. Humorous, yet cruel, Katzenjammer Kabarett invites anything and anyone into their extravagant world of humour, playfulness, parody, free borrowings and chance associations.
I have a thing for the odd, for the macabre, for the “unique” or eccentric. It can be in any medium; film, music, literature - any art form really. These days it’s hard to find anything (in any form) that is truly unique. After all, many artists claim that there is nothing “new” left to do. Because of this I have found myself looking, not towards artists who plan to be the “next wave of the future” but those who tweak the past to create their present-day work. Apparently, I am not the only one that thinks this way and the emerging Dark Cabaret genre proves it. Like any genre, Dark Cabaret encases many different genres to create an overall sound. Whether it be punk, death rock, goth or darkwave; different genres are usually mixed with the decadent themes or style of cabarets, Weimer-era vaudeville acts and/or burlesque to form Dark Cabaret. The style is quickly emerging as one of my new favorite genres with amazing artists such as The Dresden Dolls, Revue Noir, Jill Tracy and even Two Ton Boa being represented under the Dark Cabaret flag.
Dark Cabaret, like with others genres, there are also artists who try desperately to fit in and always end up falling short (Emilie Autumn comes to mind). It takes time to weed through these wanna-be’s to create a list of artists that would worthy a good listen or two. Luckily that’s where Projekt Records comes in. Projekt is known for their knowledge of “dark” genres and has released many quality Dark Cabaret albums. They even did us one better in 2005 when they released A DARK CABARET compilation. The 11-track compilation featured music from The Dresden Dolls, Revue Noir, Black Tape For A Blue Girl and Jill Tracy. It was through this compilation that I was introduced to the band of the hour, Katzenjammer Kabarett, whose “Gemini Girly Song” appeared on the release.
“Gemini Girly Song” was one of my favorite tracks on the compilation and I anxiously looked forward to any additional releases from the French foursome; unfortunately I never found any…until now that is. Once again Projekt saves the day and releases two albums from the group at the same time. Originally released in 2006, Katzenjammer Kabaret’s 14 track self-titled debut finds the group offering up their own brand of electronic-tinged, post-punk, deathrock cabaret. The songs are more like stories, a singular vignette theatrically presented by the vocals of singer Mary Komplicated, the keyboards and composition of Klishee, the lyrics and guitar of Herr Katz and bass of a performer that goes by the name Mr. Guillotine. Stand out tracks on the debut include “Gemini Girly Song,” “Lies Suck Not,” “8 & 9,” “Eve At The Mansion” and the haunting “Nevermore Brothel”. GRAND GUIGNOL & VARIETES finds the band more comfortable in their skin. With a more focused approach, the album further cements the band’s dark marionette feel in my head. The album is filled with exquisite tracks including (but not limited to) “10 Years,” “Nothing But His” “At The Sunlight Sanatorium” and perhaps my favorite tracks “Wondered Colonel Killed Couple” and “Romance”.
It’s a relief to hear good music from a band that isn’t worried about following the next great trend. Katzenjammer Kabarett obviously has no intention of making art for the sake of gaining fans. It’s obvious that they are influenced by what they love and set out to make music that encompasses just that. They do not fail and whichever release you decide to pick up, neither will disappoint. - Peter Kelsch
Man, I love music that isn’t afraid to smack you in the face with a crazy-hammer. You know, the kind of tunes you play at a party just to make your guests give you that look… and then a few minutes later ask if you wouldn't mind burning them a copy. The immortal Frank Zappa had that power, finding the beauty in pure weirdness, honing it to perfection with superior skills and unleashing it on an unprepared audience. I think I might have found some folks who have begun to tread the same dangerous path.
Hailing from France, self-described “Death Rock Cabaret” group Katzenjammer Kabarett mashes up their styles – a core of '80s-influenced goth/darkwave interwoven with threads of electro-punk, glam rock, even vaudeville, assembled with a diabolical sense of showmanship – and does it in such a schizophrenic way that it’s impossible to pin it to any particular genre. I consider this a good thing; challenging, but rewarding in the long run. And more importantly, it’s seriously creepy and sort of sexy at the same time… a fairly inviting combination, at least as far as I’m concerned. Then again, I’m sick like that.
Slightly less experimental than their self-titled 2006 debut, Grand Guignol and Variétés is nevertheless one trippy outing, only occasionally dancing around the outer fringes of pop – and then only when they damn well feel like it. The crazy-quilt composition comes primarily from keyboardist Klischee and lyricist/guitarist Herr Katz (aka “HK”) who take the flamboyant styles of vintage lieder (19th century German story-songs), add a Dadaist sense of gleeful chaos, then sprinkle with glam showmanship and a dash of the early-‘80s post-punk nihilism you might expect from Joy Division or Siouxsie and the Banshees. The spicy concoction is then stirred vigorously by the guitar skills of one Mr. Guillotine and the theatrical but sensual vocal stylings of the quaintly-named (and quite easy on the eyes) Mary Komplikated.
If this all sounds confusing, well… yeah, maybe it is. But if you hold on and go with it, you’ll find these kids aren’t just doing weird for weird’s sake… there’s a core of naughty fun driving this project, kinda like a noisy steam engine shaped like a giant sex toy. (Try to picture that just for a second. I’ll wait.) I don’t want to delve too deeply into the possible meaning behind the bizarre but often brilliant lyrics, for fear of killing the goose to get at the golden eggs. But I can try to explain how all the elements come together.Most of the twelve tracks open with a deceptively soothing intro, typically carried off by well-sampled baroque instruments – as in the opening cello strains of “Jack's Parade,” which suggests a much tamer outing than you'll eventually get. It's a chillingly effective conceit, setting the stage for Mary's silken vocals, set to a pulse-pounding, rolling synth, deep piano and suitably gothy guitar riffage. It's never repetitive, thanks to the intricacy contained within the hot-and-cold beat structures, and blackly humorous lyrics that never fail to unsettle and amuse... for example, “Hidden and Sick” tells the tale of a little boy's hide and seek that takes a seriously nasty turn, conveyed by excellent vocal harmonies that make turn its macabre imagery strangely beautiful.
“Percy Has Returned” opts for an odd but catchy plucked-tone synth line fused to a detuned barroom piano like a deformed conjoined twin, and “Nothing But His” uses an even darker piano groove to set the stage for the tale of a man whose paranoid delusions literally begin to haunt him. Their twisted storytelling technique goes for broke with the crazed “At the Sunlight Sanitarium,” in which the band members act out several eccentric roles. Even the eerie blips and ambient groans that permeate “Once Eliot Turned Ugly in His Lover's Bed” are a perfect setting – along with Mary's spoken/sung vocals – helping to accentuate the EC Comics-meets-Henry-Miller tale of grotesque horror erotica.
“Collage” and “Romance,” the album's closest-to-mainstream efforts, will take you right back to the Batcave-era '80s: the former with its Siouxsie-esque vocal delivery, and the latter for a bass line that's pure Bauhaus (note also the title “Wondered Colonel Killed Couple” is a riff on that legendary group's “Terror Couple Kill Colonel”). Closing cut “45” even hearkens to early Gary Numan (at his Pleasure Principle peak) with its buzzy sawtooth synths, albeit to a quirky be-bop beat. Throughout the record's 45 minutes, the mad scattering of styles is anchored by the consistent strength of the vocals and powerful keyboard work, with some unique, warm colors and razor-sharp accents provided by HK and Guillotine's guitars, and always memorable lyrics. There are enough wickedly witty moods and sonic textures coaxed forth by this talented quartet to accompany Michel Gondry's first horror film... that is, if he were of a mind to make one. If he heard this album, I'd suggest he might be inclined to do so. -Gregory Burkart
Es gibt bestimmte Abende, an die man sich besonders gerne zurückerinnert. Vor vier Jahren haben KATZENJAMMER KABARETT ihr zweites Konzert überhaupt im Omega gegeben, die Show war grandios und (fast) alle Anwesenden waren sich einig, bei etwas Großem dabei gewesen zu sein. Die Klasse der Band sprach schon damals für sich, als sie kurz vor ihrem Auftritt in Erlangen ihren Bühneneinstand zusammen mit den Dresden Dolls gaben.
Nach einer kostenlosen Download-EP veröffentlichte das französische Quartett, bestehend aus Klischee, Herrn Katz, Miss Mary K. und Mr. Guillotine ihr erstes Album auf dem hauseigenen Label Subterfuge. 2009, drei Jahre voller Konzerte auf nahezu allen wichtigen Festivals, Sampler-Beiträgen und vielem mehr, erreicht uns nun der neueste Opus "Grand Guignol & Varietes" über Projekt. KATZENJAMMER KABARETT passten wie die Faust aufs Auge, als Projekt begann sich immer mehr für das stark zu machen, was man mittlerweile als ´Dark Cabaret´ (nach dem gleichnamigen Sampler) bezeichnet.
Ob das nun auf KATZENJAMMER KABARETT zutrifft? Nein. Vor allem "Grand Guignol & Varietes" ist mit ´dark´ noch nicht einmal mehr ungenügend beschrieben. Die Band hat sich merklich weiterentwickelt. Die rauchig-rotzige, charakteristische Stimme von Sängerin Miss Mary K., die leicht quietschenden Gitarren, die Basslines und die herausragende, verspult-strukturgebende Elektronik aus Klischees Händen ergeben eine Mischung aus Pop Punk und abgespacten Electronica mit merklichen Einflüssen von Bands wie Cabaret Voltaire. Der Paradevergleich Yeah Yeah Yeahs scheint auch auf "Grand Guignol & Varietes" zuzutreffen. Ein bisschen anders als der Vorgänger gibt es durchaus verschiedene Tempi zu hören. Stücke wie der Opener "Jack´s Parade" oder das fast schon krachige "Once Eliot Turned Ugly In His Lover´s Bed", die 80er-Wave-Retro-Nummer "Collage" oder das bedacht vor sich hingroovende, mit fiesen Störgeräuschen garnierte "Romance" sind todsichere Kandidaten für die heimische Dauerbeschallung.
KATZENJAMMER KABARETT haben sich neu justiert, sind noch vielseitiger geworden und so kann sich "Grand Guignol & Varietes" gekonnt vom Vorgänger absetzen, ohne dabei den Bezug zu diesem zu verlieren. Das zweite Album einer Band ist ja immer eine ganz besondere Herausforderung, die die vier sympathischen Franzosen jedoch definitiv mit Bravour gemeistert. - Rating: 5/5 by Andy
This second album of Katzenjammer kabaret continues in the same style as the previous album, although a more accessible tune is found overall, a bit more pop-sound is added to the mix. The songs stories stay just as incredible and dark as they were before. This being said it is certainly an album you need to listen to more than once to appreciate the complicated mixes of instruments, lyrics and cabaret. The second song talks about a boy staying with his grandmother, where his parents forget him when they head home. The tale becomes even darker in the rest of the song. The 5 th and the 6 th track are a bit more cabaretesque compared to the other songs and are therefore less accessible, though not lesser in quality than the others. Another ear-catcher is “once eliot turned ugly in his lover’s bed”, being blessed by the gods with beauty and his ungratefulness.
The complete album is worth listening to, additionally the large collection of instruments used on the album makes it a very variable and nice to listen to piece. A very good album continuing and developing on the previous release.
The best word to sum up Katzenjammer Kabarett is probably insane – and it works incredibly well for them. Insanity can be a compliment when referring to artists, and it certainly is in this case. They merge the sounds of almost every music genre, making it impossible to put them into one category. Katzenjammer is the German word for “hangover” or “a loud, discordant noise,” which somehow describes them, even while they still manage to be charming.
Their CD, Grand Guignol & Varietes, doesn’t have any rhyme or reason to it; you won’t find two songs alike. Mary Komplikated, the lead singer, adds glam/punk vocals that tie it all together. Each song gets into a different piece of your mind, making an incredibly gripping album that you spend as much time trying to figure out as enjoy. Great art should not only be beautiful at first glance, but should keep you interested and make you think. It’s rare to find a band that challenges music as we know it and Katzenjammer Kabarett does that while still making it entertaining.
Songs such as “Collage” and “Wondered Colonel Killed Couple” jump around with odd sounds and crazed vocals, while “Nothing But His” and “Once Eliot Turned Ugly in His Lover’s Bed” are smoother and more organized. “Jack’s Parade” samples from The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack and is also a standout track. There is something for every music lover on this smorgasbord of an album.
There was a bit of a flap yesterday in ..Mercerville.., which is rare, as I’m sure you can imagine because I’m the sort of bloke who tuts wearily as others surround the digital clock on a bomb as it slowly ticks down. With ten seconds left I amble over, have a little look and then admit that nope, they’d better consult the manual. Unflappable, bordering on inert. I’m not talking about the fact Mack cat was away in the gardens behind us for three hours this morning, without so much as a look back, his longest free jaunt yet, causing me to wander the streets in front to ensure he wasn’t getting through any side gates and loping idiotically towards the main road! He came back when he was hungry and all was well, and of course I was a picture of calmness throughout. Ahem…
No, I couldn’t find my copy of KK’s enchanting debut, that was the problem. I found that EP they did, also a CD I’d burnt of the live mp3s they once had on their site, which is something they may wish to repeat, but no album. I had to turn the whole office upside down, while a disinterested Mabel cat yawned at me from the office chair she’d claimed as her own. And finally, later that evening, the album turned up, in a box of UK Decay bootlegs of all things. Perfect filing Mick, well done Sir! And all of this was done to a soundtrack of this new album, aided and abetted by Cyndi’s ‘Merry Christmas’ album, a Billie Holiday compilation and some early music recordings named ‘Lamentations’ which seemed fairly apt. I’ve been blue, but I’ve been kept cheerful. I felt determined, and I was victorious!
And now, on with the review….
Well no, actually first I want to have a little moan. Who stuck a sticker on this? It’s an outrage. They’ve put together a quite beautiful digipak sleeve with bizarre illustrations, like Steampunk meets Monty Python, scrupulously clean in black and white, and this sticker is on there ruining the whole thing. I hope actual purchasers aren’t to have this inflicted upon them? It just seems so wrong.
And now we’ll do the review, he sniffed, piously.
Seeing as the press release is informative I’d better give the unknowing some basics myself. They’re a French post-punk band with cabaret visuals and much imagination in the shady lyrics, sung in English. ‘Jack’s Parade’ starts prettily enough, the light musical tendrils attached to a slumbering creature of gentility with perfumed percussion and sorrowful strings, and you might think you’re in the realm of avant-pop, but then vocals tear around like an agitated beast on manoeuvres, and as usual trying to follow their lyrics in the delightful booklet helps very little, as it’s like a surreal set of jottings. Still, we’re off to a sneaky start, which is always good, and their sound has grown a little larger, smoother, and rowdier. Corpuscularly confident, you might say. Then the atmosphere deepens and ‘Hidden & Sick’ is like a wayward darting thing Siouxsie’s Creatures might once have written if they’d thought of it, and this is one of the funny things of this band. It sounds like something you might be used to, almost a casual retread of the opener, but there is more grace sliding around and the words tell quite another story. Often a very scary story….
‘10 Years’ is the sound of the unhinged, in opulent surroundings, the vocals airy, the twinkling surrounds occasionally narrowing into a furtive channel, lazy guitars circling pipe sounds and more brittle percussion and daunted vocals, then it gathers up it skirts and stomps lustily, and each of these songs have crafty, catchy choruses. ‘Percy Has Returned’ is a whirlpool of noir club sensitivities, starting like a corrupted cabaret, stretching out like lean Post-Punk with smoky, knowing vocals, then ending abruptly so ‘Nothing But His’ can wriggle over ominous piano and shifty drums and introduces a moodier, darker sound.
‘Sunshine Sanatorium’ brings weird voices into play, one of which sounds like a deranged Mickey Mouse. That might even be intentional but the more manic tendencies are trapped in the words, as the music restrains itself, just as the lyrical subjects were probably restrained. It struggles in a strange way, which is admirable. ‘A Real Gentleman Or The Mad Lover’ is a subtle bouncy and moaning thing, the muted tone requiring you lean into it trying to decipher the contents. Ostensibly easy on the ear it’s lugubrious menace, and ‘Once Eliot Turned Ugly In His Lover’s Bed’ is equally topsy-turvy, like Visage meets KaS Product.
‘Wondered Colonel Killed Couple’ is a brilliant title to engage Bauhaus fans, but it’s gone before you know it, a scampering flicker. ‘Collage’ flits around saucily, dipping and twisting, a dolphin in space (with cunning breathing apparatus, naturally). ‘Romance’ is a fairly orthodox post-punk spree, lightly frazzled guitar and wheezing synth swamping the singing. ‘45’ has bleakly compressed pop charm with a slowly meandering vocal pout and they’re done.
It’s a curious record, sometimes uplifting, sometimes disturbing, predominantly enigmatic. They don’t really thrust it at you the way most bands would, so it’s more a series of little spectacles for you to observe, which keeps thing weird, and there are layer upon layer to unpick and uncover, the words enthralling and bizarre.
Try it. You’ll see what I mean.
Oh, thank god for this! I was getting so fucking bored of how so many so-called dark cabaret bands were just bleeding the whole shebang dry with bloodless artifice and facile undestanding of the very basic artform; like, “Hey I'll just use this Cabaret 101 piano vamp over and over and over and over and everyone will be shocked by my decadence.” Zzzzzzzzzz. But then comes French quartet Katzenjammer Kabarett (pretentious name that references classic late 19th century comic strip? Yeah, I'll have some of that.), paying some fealty to the cabaret aesthetic but then shaking it up like a cheap snowglobe - cramming in a dizzying array of other influences like postpunk, early British goth, Japanese music, 4AD’s dream experiments, chamber music, disco, Ze Records at its height. And, oh yeah, Siouxsie and the Banshees loom large, particularly in the singer’s lusty, singular vocals. “Grand Guignol” is an invigorating, heady mix, with remarkably assured performances, arrangements and an unerring instinct for fucking with the format.
Art-damaged gothic chamber music, you saved my damn life! What took you so fucking long?
En matière de musiques sombres, la France a largement comblé son retard sur le reste du monde et offert quelques projets très emballants ces dernières années, dont Katzenjammer Kabarett est l’un des plus jolis représentants. Difficile à décrire, leur musique mélange dans la théâtralité des influences multiples et variées à chercher dans le deathrock, l’electro, le punk et même la pop 80’s. Par contre, en dehors de l’imagerie, la comparaison souvent faite avec Dresden Dolls, avec qui ils ont joué sur quelques dates en France, n’est guère judicieuse. En effet, le quatuor français recourt essentiellement à un mélange d’électronique et de guitares servant de décor à la voix suave et nonchalante de la délicieusement troublante Mary Complicated. Après un EP et un premier album autoproduits, cet opus sort sur l’excellent label américain Projekt, ce qui devrait leur valoir une reconnaissance internationale méritée. Loin d’être une redite comme le sont souvent les seconds albums, Grand Guignol & Variétés est un disque tout en ambiances qui affirme le talent d’écriture de Klischee, l’homme de l’ombre récemment expatrié à Berlin. Irrésistible.
Katzenjammer Kabarett n’était pas la tête d’affiche de cette Fantastique.Night mais c’est pour ce groupe qu’elle a été montée, avec une affiche complétée par les Bruxellois de 26 Tears et les Romains de Chants of Maldoror. A nouveau, cette invitation répondait pleinement à l’objectif initial avec au final une soirée sombre et jouissive...
Released on U.S. label Project Records, Grand Guignol & Varietes is Katzenjammer Kabarett's follow-up to their 2006 debut. Like an older Gothic sister of The New Young Pony Club, Katzenjammer Kabarett deliver music that is at once fresh, exciting, and yet possess an indefinable familiarity.
Easing you into the world of Katzenjammer Kabarett, "Jack's Pride" develops from a sparse and moody soundscape, before building to an up-tempo Electro Pop Goth fusion.
From here on in, anything goes as Katzenjammer Kabarett fuse synths to live percussion, live strings to electronic drums, in fact a myriad of instrumentation is on offer. Delivering a lyrical and musical roller-coaster that is in perpetual motion, while not Free Jazz, it is a style that keeps the listener guessing as to what direction each song will take.
On "Hidden & Sick" an Acid Rock, Acid Goth if you will, undercurrent of swirling melodies and stripped-down drum-machine rhythms are blended with Mary Komplikated voice, which here is reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux.
"10 Years" is an obvious highlight, blending hypnotic urgent rhythms interspersed with catchy melodies. The Stride piano led "Nothing But His" is another highpoint, sharp and to the point musically; it proves that Katzenjammer Kabarett can be concise if the song demands it.
Punky-Gothic, and flighty Cabaret vibes permeate the album. Insistent and driving one moment, laid back and dreamy the next, there's barely a dull moment anywhere on Grand Guignol & Varietes. Lyrically most of the songs are not framed in the usual verse, chorus, verse format, but rather narratives with the music providing the hook, unusual but it works unexpectedly well.
"Sunlight Sanatorium" sees them at their most dramatic, creepy and twisted. Here introducing characters and shrieking voices that would not be out of place in a warped piece of theatre at a carnival-bizarre.
The eminently danceable "Collage" features a spoken word intro describing a Doctor in his 50s meeting a 19-year-old girl and marrying her, despite the unusual subject "Collage" is a fine song that perfectly mixes Goth Rock with Pop sensibilities. This hybrid of Goth & Pop is also to found on the more linear "Romance".
"45" ends the album with a gloriously unapologetic climax that seems to encompass all things Goth of the last hundred years (musically speaking at least), it even possess a clarinet solo!
Wow, is one word to describe the helter-skelter ride that Katzenjammer Kabarett take you on with Grand Guignol & Varietes.
Together Mary Komplikated, Herr Katz, Klischee and Mr. Guillotine have produced a wonderful collection of intelligent music on their second album. The garden of delights that Katzenjammer Kabarett inhabit may well be Gothic, but they are not afraid to inject a little Regina Specktor playfulness here and there.
Siouxsie & The Banshees in places, Dresden Dolls in others, Katzenjammer Kabarett have not slavishly copied but merely worked a little magic that at once feels comfortable yet new and original.
A really satisfying album from the opening bars of "Jack's Pride" to the dying moments of "45", Grand Guignol & Varietes should propel Katzenjammer Kabarett into the public consciousness. Rating: 9/10 - Zak.
Den meisten, vornehmlich deutschen Besuchern dieser Seite sollte das US-Label Projekt Records hauptsächlich durch den “How Goth Are You”-Fragebogen, der durch das Myspace-Universum geistert und sinnfreie Ergebnisse ausspuckt, bekannt sein. Dass dieses Label, das in diesem Fragebogen einfach mal nen eingefleischten Cyber zum Trad Goth macht, auch Musik veröffentlicht, wissen die meisten leider jedoch nicht - Bands wie Unto Ashes, Attrition oder das wunderbare Katzenjammer Kabarett, das bereits mit seinem ersten selbstbetitelten Album von sich reden machte als eine coole Mischung aus den göttlichen Dresden Dolls und Christian Death. Das wird der Band mittlerweile nicht mehr ganz gerecht, denn obwohl Miss Mary K. nach wie vor stark nach Amanda Palmer klingt, hat sich die Band doch stark weiterentwickelt.
Die Haupteinflüsse sind nach wie vor da, jedoch würde ich noch unbedingt die krachigen Jahre von Depeche Mode dazulegen, dann kommen wir dem Teufelsgebräu, das mir entgegenwabert. Im Endeffekt: Fette, krachige Synthielinien, die mehr nach 80er-Darkwave und Industrial als nach Pop klingen, Deathrock-typische Gitarrenlinien, die zwischen Joy Division, Christian Death und purem, minimalistischem Dilettantismus schwanken und viele eingebundene akustische Instrumente, zum Beispiel ein Klavier, Celli oder Xylophone. Über all dem schwebt Miss Mary K.s geile Stimme. Das ganze ließe sich wunderbar als eine düsterere Version des Punk-Cabarets der Dresden Dolls, Dark Cabaret, bezeichnen. Kann man machen, muss man aber nicht - Schließlich ist der Begriff schwammig und das KK absolut eigenständig und von hohem Wiedererkennungswert.
Der Anfang des Openers “Jacks Parade” erinnert nicht nur vom Namen her an das kultige Skelett Jack Skellington aus “The Nightmare before Christmas”, auch die Musik könnte auch von Danny Elfman stammen können: Ganz großes Atmosphärekino mit strangem Dresden Dolls-Appeal, bis der Song in einen recht flotten Post-Punk-Song mit Avantgarde- und Electroeinschlag umschwenkt und auf die Tube drückt. “10 Years”, ein weiteres Highlight des Albums, drückt mit einem straighten Rock’n'Roll-Basslauf und kreischigen Gitarren auf die Tanzfläche. Zwischendurch gibt es einen starken akustischen Zwischenteil mit wiederum interessanter Instrumentierung. “Nothing but this” geht wieder straight ins Tanzbein und besticht durch eine exzellente Pianolinie und wieder die typische Experimentierfreude der Band. Ich könnte jeden Song auf diesem wirklich großartigen Album totjubeln, doch weil ich dem geneigten Fan doch etwas Raum zum Entdecken geben will, schließe ich hier einfach mal ab.
Fazit: Ein verdammt gutes Album einer frischen, innovativen Band mit strangem Appeal. Ein teuflischer Cocktail, der eigentlich das gleiche ist wie harter Alkohol: Beim ersten Mal mag es nicht recht schmecken, doch wenn man sich erst mal “eingesoffen” hat, kommt man nicht mehr von ihm los, man wird seine bewusstseinserweiternde Wirkung immer wieder brauchen. Nicht nur als Dresden Dolls-Fan muss ich dieses Album einfach empfehlen, denn so etwas innovatives hat man selten gehört. Die Szene stagniert? Pah. KK belehren dich eines besseren. Songs wie “Once Elliot turned ugly in his lover’s bed”, “Jack’s Parade”, “Nothing but this” oder “45″ sprechen klar für sich. Und noch klarer für die Höchstwertung.
France's Katzenjammer Kabarett first blipped onto my radar with "Gemini Girly Song", their track on Projekt's seminal comp "A Dark Cabaret". Now Projekt is releasing the quartet's second album (and re-releasing the first).
It only takes one listen to understand why this legendary label snatched up the Kabarett. "Grand-Guignol & Variétés" is possessed by a propulsive will to live, it is one of those albums that grabs you and drags you along with it... like an Alice In Wonderland amusement park ride.
It's too bad that the band is bound to be compared to Siouxsie & the Banshees merely because they take a dark tack and have a (lovely) lady singer. If you're going to compare them to Siouxsie et al it should be for KK's sense of adventure, they're eagerness to explore and combine different musical styles. "Grand-Guignol & Variétés" pops and crackles with bits of industrial and electronics, deathrock and macabaret, often in the same song.
The CD opens with "Jack's parade" which starts off with classical/sepiachord elements before shifting into proto-industrial. The second track ("Hidden & sick") and the eleventh ("Collage") perform a similar slight of hand but with goth replacing the classical elements. Few songs stay on a single course (their punky inversion of Bauhaus on "Wondered colonel killed couple" being the notable exception). Instead the band starts with a template then plays with and expands it as necessary. Katzenjammer Kabarett liberally season their works with whatever sonic spices they feel works at that time, yet the songs never sound random or even poorly thought out.
The end result is a baroque collection where every song stands on its own yet they all work together as a whole.
Recommended tracks: "Hidden & sick" and the piano & hysterics of "Sunlight sanatorium"