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Bleiburg – Till the Last Night

Bleiburg, for now over a decade, has long been one of the most unique and, frankly, infuriatingly difficult artists in the post-industrial realm to define on any number of levels.  Though nearly always rhythmic, the music can switch out from the modestly abrasive nature of industrial to dreamy synthpop, militant martial to straight-up dance-floor EBM, to folk-laden bombastic experimentation and minimal neoclassic elements.  Aside from that, the core of the project has always been Stefan Rukavina, the man behind the label Thaglasz that began as a Death in June fanclub, but has extended in various efforts to include names from A. Schwarz, Edmund Schroeder (MDMA, Human Nihil) and, apparently, one M. Turkovic.  It would seem that now, however, we’re back to the primitive time of the project’s efforts where Stefan Rukavina alone is resting at the helm and creating all music within.  Bleiburg has, of course, had a moderately successful career thus far, finding a great deal of support from many of Europe’s most beloved post-industrial labels in Cold Spring Records, Old Europa Cafe, SkullLine, and of course, the wonderful Israeli label The Eastern Front.

Bleiburg, as with many artists in this realm of martial music, has always been a project that presents itself as deeply rooted in the historical significance of war.  Where most others seem to only hint at vague references and the militant theme as an artistic aesthetic, Bleiburg has always been fairly up-front about their intentions and articulate about the subjects at hand.  For instance, the project’s very name was risen from one of the last atrocities to occur in World War II:  The Bleiburg Massacre.  This mass-execution of fleeing soldiers and civilians took place near the Carinthian town of Bleiburg on the Austrian-Slovenian border.  As many as 110 mass graves of Croats have been discovered, a fact which not only Bleiburg pays homage to with the name of this project, but one that culminated into the climax of Bleiburg’s career in “Way of Crosses”.  “Till the Last Night” is no different, existing as a celebration of the independence of Israel, its militant might, and its history.  The album’s eight-page booklet is constructed of martial photographs of Israeli soldiers throughout various times of history, an excerpt from a speech given by Major Abba (“father”) Eban to the United Nations in 1948 regarding post-independence 1948 Arab-Israeli War / Israeli War of Independence, and a brief page-long introduction to the Israeli air-force attack on Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq that includes a brief reminder on the flip-flopping nature of American politics as they initially pledged support and then, during the bombardment, expressed neutrality.

The music found on “Till the Last Night” contains samples, excerpts and (possibly) lyrics from these two historical Israeli events and the two-decade history of conflict between, including the forced exodus of nearly one million jews from the Arab states into Israel, whose descendents now make up roughly 41% of Israel’s population today.  The album opens with “Anu Mahrizim Ba’zot”, a pounding electro track that has as much of a dance appeal as it does a militant one through the proclamation of “I want you!”  Track two for a change has a rhythmic backbone but features the folk appeal that Bleiburg possesses through a Mediterranean / Middle Eastern style guitar and female vocal presence while the majority of voice on the song is spoken word.  We then venture into the gently flowing and synth-laden melodious track “La Brigada Majal”.  The reference here is towards the roughly 4,000 non-Israeli Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers whom traveled to Israel to fight for the Jewish Independence in 1948.  “Jerusalem” contains some minimally melodic and playful neoclassic plucked-string arrangements and refers to the city as “the lion’s gate”, speaking of “the troops edg(e/ing) their way to the temple mount”.  “Never Surrender” is more straight-forward aggro-style industrial with a low-end synth melody and a slightly abrasive rhythm.  “Six Days” incorporates more of a trance influence behind samples speaking about the Six Day War of June, 1967 that landed Israel full control of the Gaze Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and the West Bank.  All of this, in the first half of the album alone.  The rest will go on to feature the martial percussion and minimal ambient atmosphere of “Life Dangerous and Faith”, the tribal and largely Middle Eastern “Azan”, the epic martial industrial track “The Bar Lev Line”, and the strangely mystic and lightly breakbeat “The Source of Power”.

From its diversity of sound, its serious and intelligent political motivations and its militant style, “Till the Last Night” should please any fan of the martial side of electro, especially those whom find themselves bored by an album’s worth of the same sound over and over.  More than that, it’s as much a history lesson from an important part of the world as it is a spirited and unique effort.  Obviously anti-Zionist readers will probably see this as little more than propaganda and thus not find much here that is of interest to them, but for those whom approach music with an open mind, it’s quite a rewarding listen.  This is, at least from my perspective, Rukavina’s best effort since “Way of Crosses” and will hopefully re-energize his motivation into a new era for Bleiburg.

Track List:

01) Anu Mahrizim Ba’zot
02) For a Change
03) La Brigada Majal
04) Till the Last Night
05) Jerusalem
06) Never Surrender
07) Six Days
08) Life Dangerous and Faith
09) Azan
10) The Bar Lev Line
11) The Small of War
12) The Source of Power
13) Iran

Rating: 5/5
Written by: Sage
Label:  The Eastern Front (Israel) / FRONT030 / CD
Rhythmic Industrial / Electro / Experimental Folk