Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Violeta Violeta (volume 1) - a modern tragedy

The album is dead, they say.
The concept album is dead and long burried, they say.
A good pop song need to follow the usual ABC, they say.
Whoever they are, they are wrong. Because halleluja for Kaizers Orchestra and their new album 'Violeta Violeta vol. 1', which is part one of a trilogy telling the story of little girl Violeta who's mother Beatrice is a first class psycho who makes her husband run away with his daughter and hide in the world for Beatrice who as a result of losing her husband and daughter not only goes even more insane but cries 7 buckets of tears, pours gasoline over herself wearing her wedding dress, smokes a cigarette, lights herself on fire, saves herself with her tears and then vows only one thing: revenge. This in Norwegian, Stavanger dialect, playing a style of music with influences ranging from rock, pop, gypsy, ompa, psychodelia, using organs (the instrument!), oil barrels, guitars, standing bass, a string orchestra, and that's doing them way too short.

In case you never heard of Kaizers Orchestra, this Norwegian 6-piece rock the airwaves since 2001. Their first three albums where oil barrel goodies telling a maffia story about a country that doesn't excist suffering from a war that doesn't excists. Corruption, battles, betrayel, sing and dance, depression, mental illnesses, that's roughly what it's all bout. Their very loyal fanbase growing ever since, also outside Norway where most may not understand a single thing from their absurd but fascinating stories (I speak Swedish which makes it a tad easier to understand) but sing along anyway. Kaizers Orchestra live is pure energy. If they'd recite the phone book of the town Bergen in the same way they're playing their songs it would be the same energy. They even manage to make ME dance. After releasing a live album, a sort of compilation album of lost goodies they did lose a bit of following which only means more room to dance. They rock, they ompa, they fascinate, they make you happy. That's Kaizers Orchestra. If you don't feel these things you're most likely to not particularly like them much.

Volume one of the Violeta Violeta trilogy comes in 10 songs which belong together, tell you a story, sketch the atmosphere but the songs are perfectly capable of standing on their own two feet (or organ, oilbarrel, ...). Opener 'Philemon Arthur & The Dung' takes you not only away in a strange but catchy rhythm, it also invites you for a coffee (honestly). There's no turning back from their. 'Violeta Violeta vol. 1' is catchy to the bone, invites to dances which make your body bent in unnatural ways, contains wonderful ballads (single 'Hjerteknusser'), even a pure pop song 'Tumor I Ditt Hjerte' which is more brilliant than radio friendly. 'Diamant Til Kull' doesn't follow any sensible rhythm or chords and makes it brilliant that way. For the old school Kaizer fans there's 'Psycho Under Min Hatt', which is already a live favourite before being played live.

Isn't there anything that is a little disappointing? Well yes, it's 'En For Orgelet, En For Meg'. In essential it's a great song honouring the organ (orgelet). The downside is that there's a tiny rap in there. If you manage to get the Norwegian version of the song you're lucky, a Norwegian lady raps for about ten seconds which is okay. The guys in Kaizers Orchestra though thought it would be a nice way to thank their most loyal foreign fanbase with a rap in their language. Which means, there's a German rap for the Germany, a Dutch rap for the Netherlands. I'm not sure if this song is supposed to go on the actual CD or is download only because despite buying the album in the Netherlands in a store on disc, I got a Norwegian rap which I'm only thankful for. Nice novelty, thanks but no thanks.

Bak ett hallelujah for Kaizers Orchestra because they have something beautiful in their hands right now and this is only the beginning. Bring it on, this is good stuff. If you're up for it, that is.