KATZEN­JAM­MER Le Pop (Net­twerk Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

This Nor­we­gian all-girl elec­tro­folk en­sem­ble, which takes its name from a Ger­man word mean­ing “cat’s wail,” orig­i­nally re­leased Le Pop in 2008 in its home coun­try. Now, thank­fully, the al­bum has been made avail­able to Amer­i­can au­di­ences. Whip­ping up one se­ri­ous whirling-dervish mu­si­cal sideshow of Gypsy swing, Ir­ish jig, rock, Balkan folk, mari­achi, coun­try, pop bal­ladry, polka, and a hint of vaudeville blues, this har­mony-rich quar­tet con­jures up im­ages of the An­drews Sis­ters, Danny Elf­man, and David Byrne shar­ing a mesca­line milk­shake while surf­ing through a rab­bit hole on the way to an Al­ba­nian night­club in an­other di­men­sion. Tag-team­ing more than 25 in­stru­ments (the mu­si­cians are largely self­taught, though male com­poser Mats Rybø does most of the ar­rang­ing) that range from the tri­an­gu­lar bal­alaika bass to the tuba, co-lead vo­cal­ists and core band mem­bers Solveig Heilo, Anne Marit Bergheim, Turid Jør­gensen, and Mar­i­anne Sveen cre­ate the kind of ad­dic­tive, or­ga­nized au­ral chaos that can be heard in the mu­sic of more es­tab­lished bands on the in­ter­na­tional scene (like Fish­tank En­sem­ble and DeVotchKa). The fi­nal track on the al­bum, “Ain’t No Thing,” ap­pears to end with the sound of a phono­graph nee­dle hit­ting the end of a 78-rpm record for about 30 sec­onds, fol­lowed by an­other half-minute of si­lence. Hang in there for the bonus track; it’s a fierce barn stomp. — Rob DeWalt

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