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.