18 February 2010

Laibachkunstderfuge - Laibach


You just think you have Laibach all worked out, having recovered from their last album (Volk)which reworked a range of national anthems into a series of rather biting commentaries about each nation, and giving just about everybody apart from Spain a damn good thrashing. And then along comes another completely bizarre move; in this case, what they describe as 'the laibachian interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's work The Art Of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge).'

Bach wrote the Art Of Fugue sometime between 1723 and his death in 1750, whilst living and working in Leipzig. The Art Of Fugue is a lengthy collection of fugues and canons which form a sort of demonstration of the possibilities of various transformational techniques: augmentation, diminution, permutation matrices and so on. No instruments are specified in the work, and as the whole thing is based on mathematical algorithms, Laibach have taken this to its logical conclusion: Laibachkunstderfuge was programmed and performed entirely on computer, live, to an appreciative audience on June the 1st, 2006 at the Bachfest in Leipzig. (Judging from the generated vocals in Contrapunctus 7, they've gone for Macs. Very wise.)

If you've heard Wendy Carlos' switched on Switched-On Bach, then parts of this will bring Moog-like memories flooding back. Other aspects recall Laibach's foray into disco-techno with their NATO album. Contrapunctus 2, a twenty minute epic, is breathtakingly lovely, and track seven, mentioned above, is a delightful little musical joke that recalls Camille Saint-Saƫns' musical puns blatantly sneaked into The Carnival Of The Animals. There are jolly parts, and darker sounding parts. And yes, it's all based on the same simple subject in D minor, so after an hour and twenty minutes much of it begins to sound the same, despite the varying styles and instrumentation. I like it, and no doubt many others will agree, but I'd be more than willing to say it's probably a musical curiosity, one for the fans or those interested in unusual electronic versions of classical tracks.

LAIBACHKUNSTDERFUGE was available primarily as a digital download, but there are CD versions out there now. Volkswagner, a kind of thematic sibling based around the works of Wagner was performed in April 2009 and is scheduled for an early 2010 CD release.


LAIBACHKUNSTDERFUGE, released Monday, 5th May 2008

1. Contrapunctus 1
2. Contrapunctus 2
3. Contrapunctus 3
4. Contrapunctus 4
5. Contrapunctus 5
6. Contrapunctus 6, A 4 Im Stile Francese
7. Contrapunctus 7, A 4 Per Augment Et Diminut
8. Contrapunctus 8, A 3
9. Contrapunctus 9, A 4 Alla Duodecima
10. Contrapunctus 10, A 4 Alla Decima
11. Contrapunctus 11, A 4
12. Contrapunctus 12, Canon Alla Ottava
13. Contrapunctus 13, Canon Alla Duodecima In Contrapunto Alla Quinta
14. Contrapunctus 15, Canon Per Augmentationem In Contrario Motu

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