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2020-01-08

LAIBACH - Party Songs

One week is left. Only one week.

It's hard to fully comprehend that it's really happening, but after months and years of problems, improvements, delays "Laibach Revisited" will finally be released and dispatched on January 15th.

But as long as this wait has been; we can confidently say that Laibach  kept us entertained in the meantime. The complete milking of the North Korean cow - being their 2015 visit to Pyongyang and everything connected to it - alone secured lots of releases and activities. They toured in the name of "The Sound Of Music", released the album of the same name a couple of years later, starred in the documentary musical "Liberation Day", which was accompanied by the book "Liberation Days" (I reviewed all that HERE) and toured for the album in a different form again.

In November 2019 the final missing pieces of music of this cycle were released, with an EP that touches the tonal realm of "The Sound Of Music", but takes America and the fictionally heightened version of Austria out of the equation by focussing on the (North) Korean songs, which were played - or at least rehearsed - in Pyongyang.

So after bringing the West into North Korea, Laibach brings North Korea into the West, no matter if we want it or not.  




LAIBACH - Party Songs (transparent 12" EP) (2019)


"Honourable, Dead Or Alive, When Following The Revolutionary Road" is the core track of the release and featured in various versions. It's based on "the classic North Korean revolutionary opera" "Tell, O Forest" from 1972, which was "written and produced under the guidance of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il". (Quotes from the Korean Central news Agency)
Yes, that makes "The Kitsch Of Music" sound quite cool in comparison, right?

However the song was deemed "too confusing" to play, so it was ditched from the setlist.

I kindly disagree with that sentiment. You can trust Laibach and their long-time cooperators Silence to make politically and ideologically laden material like this listenable and engaging, even if you don't understand a word. The "Arduous March version" very much in the style of "The Sound Of Music" is a duet of Boris Benko's unique dramatic vocals and the sonor speaking voice of Milan Fras. One singing in North-Korean, the other talking in Slovene.

The "Single Hearted Unity version" renounces the sharp beat and the snarling Laibach voice and focusses more on the Silence side, making it a piano ballad sprinkled with neo-classic and female spoken words in Korean.

The A-side closes with the studio version of "We Will Go To Mount Paektu", which was originally performed in 2015 by the Moranbong Band, a popular North Korean girl group, founded by - guess who, of course none other than Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un himself. Even though Laibach translated the lyrics into English at the suggestion of their hosts, the result shared the fate of "Honourable" and fell prey to the State censors. 
Musically this is pretty good standard Laibach meets Silence, somewhere between the two previous tracks.

That was the hi-fi half of this EP, as side B is a bootleg quality affair at best. It begins with the Korean traditional "Arirang" and another version of "Honourable", both recorded by the "Liberation Day" film team at the smaller of the two Laibach shows in Pyongyang, which was basically Silence playing together with students of the Kum Song Music School, as seen in the movie.

The closer is "We Will Go To Mount Paektu" again, this time featuring Mina Špiler on lead vocals, recorded live at the Ponghwa Theatre, so I assume during the final rehearsal, upon which it was rejected. The order of the state has been saved.

All in all this release is rather short and I wouldn't file it under the most essential Laibach material, even though it's good stuff and has a special significance. 



Thematically both the title of the EP and its pompous state propaganda content tie the whole "Sound Of Music"/Korea phase with both "Volk" (which also heavily featured the fellow Slovene duo Silence) and those other party hymns of "Spectre".







If you're only interested in the music, the digital download version of "Party Songs" should suffice. The vinyl version includes a download code though and once again features the great design artwork of  Valnoir's. So like the related previous releases this one's a worthwile beauty. 






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