Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, Jazz
Very Challenging But Very Good
Steve McGarrett | Houston, TX, USA, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, | 05/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is Laibach's most interesting and challenging album since Kapital.
I have always thought that Laibach was at their best taking others' songs and turning them into something that no one could have imagined, both musically and lyrically. When I first read that the new album was going to based on national anthems, I lacked some faith that they could pull it off. But, they did. The first eight tracks (Germania to Yisra'el) are very good to great. There's a dropoff after that with only Slovania and NSK being very good.
-America is the best track on the album. While being a bit melodramatic in its changing of the lyrics (home of the brave becomes gloom of the grave), the Star Spangled Banner melody is retained but adapted to an ambient plodding electronic rhythm. The spoken verses work well and then the whole thing is rounded out by combining a sampled fire and brimstone sermon with increasing musical intensity and almost stream of consiciousness speaking. It's really good. See below for the politics.
-Francia is another great track. It begins with a very ambient series of chords. A woman begins singing La Marseillaise. Then the deep spoken verses begin. As a verse rounds to completion, a very aggressive and slighlty dissonant piano riff kicks in becoming backed by very heavy chords. Similar to America, the song ends with a number of overlapping elements. It's a powerful song.
-Espana changes things up. It's much more upbeat electronic dance music.
-Rossiya is good although be warned, there's a children's choir in it. I suspect this is intended to be ironic but from an aesthetic standpoint, it doesn't really work.
-Yisra'el's verses are based around a higher register organ theme which then is overwhelmed by a very heavy chorus. The book indicates that part of the song is based on the Israeli anthem and part on the Palestinian anthem. You can imagine how different audiences might react.
No Laibach album can be really discussed without trying to figure out what it might mean. Laibach is generally very ambiguous about things so it is usually more of a statement of the listener as to what they get from things. Having read (and reviewed!) Alexei Monroe's book, Interrogation Machine, which describes Laibach and NSK in detail, I actually now realize that it is even more difficult than I previously thought. So, here's my take on Volk.
The booklet with the album has a number of quotes regarding views over the last 60-70 years about the English language and by extension some attributes of Anglo-American culture becoming dominant. The implication is that there is some cause for concern although it is not clear that this is being stated overtly. My reaction is to first recognize that with the evolution of human technology, some culture was going to take the first steps to being global in reach. The next question is, "If you had a choice, which would you pick?" Russian? Chinese? German? Indian? Arab? Latin/South America? None of those choices stick out to me as being very good. However bad the warts of Anglo-American free enterprise democracy are, they easily beat these others. People freely risk there lives to come to America. It rarely works the other way around.
So, back to the song America that I like so much. As I said, the lyrics that are sung are a bit melodramatic. But the spoken word sections help make my point. They ask questions of America based on the preamble to the Constitution: "Did you form a perfect union?" "Establish justice?" "Ensure tranquility?" It is easy to say, no, not 100% of the time. However, have any other major countries/cultures tried harder or achieved more. Again, I think the objective answer would be no. Slavery ended in the world because England first worked to end it and then the US fought a very difficult civil war to achieve that at home. Ask yourself again: Would Russia, China, Arabia, India, etc have actively tried to end slavery on their own initiative. Probably not. I think we know what the Germans tried to do in the 20th century so they are a definite no.
So, in the big picture, if you buy my theory in my review of Interrogation Machine that Laibach's point is that people need to get past tribalism/nationalism, etc, then this album makes sense by holding people's self-definition up to the light. I doubt it's very popular but the countries with th best chance of passing the test are the ones with an Anglo-American framework. In these, the individual gets to become who they want to be so that the "tribes" become voluntary without the need for territory or violent opposition to others."