Kaizers Orchestra thrust themselves upon the Scandinavian consciousness in 2001 with their brilliant and inimitable debut record, Ompa Til du Dør, a startling mix of Eastern European folk, beer hall "oompah," and latter-era Tom Waits, becoming one of Norway's most popular bands and one of the Continent's must-see live acts in the process. Unusually for a band so richly celebrated for its raucous live show, Kaizers Orchestra decided to tone things down a fraction for their fourth studio effort, entitled Maskineri (Machinery). It's not nearly as immediate as its predecessors, most of all 2005's glam-tinged Maestro, but is no less affecting as a result. Perhaps signaling their intention from the start, opening track "Moment" bristles with festive marimba, the newest instrument in their armory, while one of their defining features -- the distinctive oil drum -- is used noticeably sparingly. Some tracks are solid links to the past: "Bastard Sønn" could come straight from Ompa Til du Dør; its fluttering trumpets and glammy chord stabs act like a time machine, while the chorus line "eg er din bastard sønn" requires very little in the way of translation. Elsewhere, there are notable innovations in the Kaisers' sound. "9mm" brims with horror punk-styled electric organ and a disarming call-and-response chorus, while "Den Andre Er Meg" is a first for the band: a duet between frontman Janove Ottesen and a female vocalist, Ragnhild Winterstø Røthing. Yet while these innovations are welcome additions to the Kaizers Orchestra, the songs themselves are slightly weaker than those to which listeners have become accustomed and Maskineri loses steam in its latter stages, despite the best efforts of the sparkling closer, "Ond Sirkel."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Donnelly