Carambolage Carambolage LP / Eilzustellung-Exprès LP reissues
The French word “carambolage“ basically translates to “collision” or “crash,” an etymology that suited the purposely disjointed sound of these early ’80s Neue Deutsche Welle practitioners exceedingly well. Their self-titled LP from 1980 bears a number of very of-the-era German post-punk hallmarks—unsettling synth flourishes; highly dramatic vocals (cf. NINA HAGEN) that are squealed, shouted, chanted and spit; stilted, choppy rhythms with forays into tangled no wave noise—and at their bleakest, like on “Tu Doch Nicht So,” there’s an early industrial-meets-deathrock vibe in the clattering, hypnotic drum patterns and general atmosphere of unease that’s dead-on West Berlin despite the band actually hailing from rural Fresenhagen. But CARAMBOLAGE wasn’t content to stay in one place for too long, as they careen from the the SLITS-like feral feminine energy of “Rampenlicht” with its insistent bass pulse and breathless girl-gang backing vocals, to organ-driven, carnivalesque (nightmarish?) kitsch in “Das Männlein,” to the see-sawing, KLEENEX-but-darker art-punk delirium of “Was Hat Das Für Einen Sinn.” The group then expanded from a trio to a quartet for 1982’s Eilzustellung-Exprès, a tighter and (at times, at least) more conventionally pop-minded, new wave-ready effort than their debut, but that’s all relative. The opening pairing of “Vollgeturnt” and “Eingeschneit” translates the GO-GO’S into German with girl-group-influenced harmonies and effervescent power pop jangle (a few years before LES CALAMITÉS would do much the same en français), and the English-sung “Take Me” is a slice of proto-DELMONAS swinging ’60s-via-’80s mod-pop, but there’s still plenty of lipstick traces left behind from the preceding record—the blurts of sax and stark rhythmic tumble in “Die Zeit,” the hyper-expressive vocals over the asymmetrical lurch of “Widerlich,” etc. CARAMBOLAGE hasn’t had the same sort of reverberant reach that made their contemporaries like MALARIA! and ABWÄRTS bootleg punk shirt staples in the present day, but hopefully these first-time reissues of their two proper LPs will do something to help turn that around.