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(debut) by Katzenjammer Kabarett
Feast of Hammers
KatzKab 10" Vinyl
Anthology Archive (Nicki Jaine & Sam Rosenthal) ~ SALE $5
Grand Guignol & Variétés
“They have such a sparkling feel for precocious darkness that they’re positively divine.” - Mick Mercer.
A reissue of their 2006 debut. Referring to themselves as “Deathrock Cabaret,” they might be more correctly classified as post-punk cabaret, for their influences can be found in styles from deathrock, baroque, new-wave, electronic to classical. This Parisian act is fronted by the charming, seductive Mary Komplikated.
Katzenjammer Kabarett is a young and promising band from Paris, consisting of Mary Komplikated, Herr Katz, Klischee and Mr Guillotine. Indeed, the idea of the cabaret as they conceive it, must be linked to the conception the founders of the Cabaret Voltaire, or of other European artistic avant-garde cabarets of the 1910s-1920s. Their compositions, by the means of varied and various collages, are an attempt to reveal the peculiar atmosphere one could have found in early avant-garde circles. To sum up, a considerable part of their work comes from second-hand elements, borrowed from preceding movements and styles, but whose signs have been systematically changed.
Thus, the music composed by Klischee, supported by Herr Katz's lyrics and Mr Guillotine's how so necessary pragmatism, creates an alchemy with the carefree Mary Komplikated's voice and theatrical singing which embodies all the magic, the cynism and the absurdity of that hangover cabaret.
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
I know what you’re thinking. (No, I honestly do!) “Oh, that Katzenjammer Kabarett are bound to have a ‘manifesto’ that will proclaim themselves, ‘the hall of an Apocalyptic Brothel deprived from Metaphysics’!” And you’d be right, I confess, but you mustn’t neglect to admit they have such a sparkling feel for precocious darkness that they’re positively divine. I don’t know what the name is but I recall as a child the most dire comic cartoon was something called The Katzenjammer Kids. (Horrendous!) Now it’s part of a French band formed of Mary Komplikated, Herr Katz, Cliché and Mr Guillotine. The little synth tinkles like a music box, like a fairy tale, like a creepy nightmare about to begin, and tired of Goth’s more blinkered forms, they want to slap diverting electronics and Deathrock together to watch the sparks and mayhem. And you know what? The way Mary purrs this is the bastard stepchildren of KaS Product in creative terms, which is an accolade so high they’ll need ladders.
Make way, make way, for greatness! ‘Ouverture’ the pretty gives way to ‘Katzenjammer Kids’ the breathless, where guitar sniping takes place behind the cover of her vocal strength, and in a way it’s Deathrock-Punk. ‘Gemini Girly Song’ swings on the murky piano, then the drums start to swish and switch in a Cabaret noir as lugubrious vocals beckon and complain, and this has real drive which verges on commercial and total accessibility so don’t think they’re in anyway awkward. It’s just classy. In ‘Genuine, A Fantastic Revue’ they’re caught Moulin Rouge-handed, male and vocals waltzing saucily around in the muck of their own making, immersed in compelling storytelling. It’s utterly entrancing.
‘The Crowd Around’ is smokier and full-bodied, lustily lounging around with some delightfully twiddly keyboard work, ‘L’Amiral Cherche Une Maison A Lover’ is mental, a cross between The Munsters and Chemical Brothers and ‘Eve At The Mansion’ is devious Goth with a dancey twitchiness, heated succulent vocal drama and faux weariness conveyed with such bewitching artistry you’re going to love it!
‘Lies Suck Not’ is more guitar jabbering and a squashier beat as they lurch knowingly, configuring the shapes as they go, with a rare knack of seeming wholly out of control and yet the song keeps on moving. ‘Mal Manekinow’ is a thinner, jousting session as they make a glove puppet show out of early Christian Death. (‘That’s the way to spew it!’) ‘Broken Dolls’ is their most conventional song as it seeps and sulks with a sense of truculent aggression, and then ‘End’ ends, demurely. A secret swirling track will eventually appear exhibiting a glowing, devious heart with bells on. Literally.
Bands like this are true representatives of the new generation, because the future lies with imagination not adherence to known formula.
Now go here, because it’s good for you. - Mick Mercer