Review by Sepia Chord


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"