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VOLLMAIER - Kind Of Laibach

Wunderbar! This makes my lazy Friday evening self happy.

Here's an album which you could review almost completely based solely on the information provided by its cover.

VOLLMAIER - Kind Of Laibach (CD) (2020)

So here we go:

The album title tells us that it's not a Laibach work, but it's "kind of Laibach", which obviously is also a reference to one of the most important popular music albums of all times, Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue", which suggests that the music here could be labeled as jazz.

Then on the other hand Laibach is known for strong neo-classical influences... One thing however seems sure: It's a piano work - and with a granite claviature its delivery is probably hammered pretty hard.

The name Vollmaier is familiar to Laibach fans, because Sašo Vollmaier actually was an active Laibach member from 2007 to 2013, which is the period that not only saw the releases of "Spectre" and the fantastic rare live album "Monumental Retro-Avant-Garde", but also the recording of most material of "Laibach Revisited".

Assuming that the man, who established the sound of a jazz piano brutally falling down the stairs as a reappearing constant of the Laibach aesthetics, would preferably interpret what he already knows in and out, we should expect versions of material from those albums here.

That's the front cover. Flipping the CD gives us confirmation on several points, as we see Sašo Vollmaier playing on a concert grand, which "reflects" the image of Laibach vocalist Milan Fras.

The credits on the inside then make it official:

"Inspired by LAIBACH.
Includes motives from the songs
"Smrt za Smrt RE", "Krvada Gruda RE", "Brat Moj RE", "Resistance Is Futile", "
Ti, Ki Izzivaš RE".

The lack of a tracklist anywhere on the digipack suggests that "Kind of Laibach" doesn't aim for hit singles and is rather expected to be understood as one holistic suite.

And now we can listen to the album!

With a running time of about thirty minutes it's rather short for a full length, yet for an instrumental solo performance this size proves to be just right to keep up the tension and interest.

The work is segmented into ten parts, half of which bear the titles of the aforementioned Laibach songs. Those titles however only mark the largest amassments of the respective tunes, as for example the "Restistance Is Futile" motif is also reprised directly afterwards in "Ti, Ki Izzivaš RE".

Indeed "Kind Of Laibach" should only be experienced as a whole piece, in which Vollmaier interweaves Laibach with new original themes.

As for the question into which genre drawer to put this album - just as with most things Laibach this work defies definite categorization. I understand it as contemporary classic suite with very obstreperous  tendencies, which could classify as jazzy (yet also as industrial through association).
Vollmaier speeds through the performance in his recognizable style with fast short notes and a furious, often surprisingly heavy attack, takes sudden turns and stumbles towards the edge of the chaotic abyss, before the piano finds and collects itself again.

On the clearly jazz side there are also several passages which feel like they are created on the spot. Which means they are either left open for improvisations - or they are successful emulations of improvisations. Which ultimately leads to the same result, right?
(Anyone who owns the vinyl version of this album can possibly look into this aspect better, since the record comes with some notations, which might - or might not - give some clues.)

For me as someone who hasn't dipped his ears into too much piano solo music - regardless of genre - yet, "Kind Of Laibach" may be a good starting point, as this album, which is also inspired by  Glenn Gould and Vladimir Horowitz, is a truly strong, suspenseful artistic statement of recontextualization, no matter if you view it as an accompanying piece to the "Laibach Revisited" box or as a seperated work which funcions on its own. 

This excellent half hour of virtuoso piano playing and impressive arrangement intuition always flies by as fast as a Borg takeover.

Resistance is pointless. Vollmaier is Vollmaier.

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