Various Artists - Welcome to the Twisted Cabaret, Vol. 1(CD & DVD) [Volvox Music - 2010]Should the emphasis here be on “twisted” or “cabaret”? Here we have eighteen tracks (plus a sixteen-track bonus DVD) from various artists, all in what could charitably be called a cabaret / music all style, all highly bemused, sardonic, sarcastic and proudly decadent.
The opening cut lets you know there are few sacred cows here: The Tiger Lilies, “Start a Fire”, all about the joys of performing the titular act in brazen defiance of anything resembling social norms or property values. Ho, ho. It’s a pyromaniac’s version of Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”, and its nasty humor is echoed in several other songs here: Evelyn Evelyn’s “Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn?”, or Marcella and the Forget Me Nots’s “What Have You Done To Your Face?”
It’s not all one note, though, which automatically makes it that much more interesting even if you’re not a fan of the cabaret style (as, I confess, I am not). Sometimes what we get is played almost entirely straight—e.g., none other than The Dresden Dolls, with “Bank of Boston Beauty Queen”, or (I think) The Maxi Monster Music Show’s “Et Alors”—all in French, which makes it seem that much more like an artifact of the original cabaret scene and not a recreation. And sometimes the cabaret sound is used as a springboard for something downright strange and original, as with The Residents (“The Dying Oilman”), Aranos (“New Guitar”), or the Legendary Pink Dots (“Man or Mouse”).
It’s plain even to a non-enthusiast like me how this compilation was a labor of love for the curators and artists alike. It comes most especially recommended to fans of Moulin Rouge!, those who already enjoy any three (or more) of the artists included, and those with thoroughly perverse senses of humor. You know who you guys are. Serdar Yegulalp