Laibach: Monumental Retro-Avant-Garde
Laibach: Iron Sky
Laibach: Gesamkunstwerk 81-86
Laibach: Live at the CC Club 2007
Laibach Single: Anglia
300,000 VK: Titan
Various: Looking for Europe
Various: Trans Slovenia Express Vol 2
Laibach: Laibach Anthems
Laibach Single: Das Spiel Ist Aus
Laibach Single: Tanz Mit Laibach
Laibach: Neu Konservatiw
Laibach: The John Peel Sessions
The Chamber - Cold Spring compilation
Laibach: Rekapitulacija - 2002 Reissue
Laibach: Nova Akropola - 2002 Reissue
Laibach: M.B. 21 December 1984.
300,000 V.K. Also Sprach Johann Paul II
Schlecht Und Ironisch - Laibach Tribut
Laibach 1999 Reissue
300,000 VK Bill Gates - Hard Drive
Live Here Now
Laibach at Tate Modern was promising to be an unique and special event so unsurprisingly there were plans to record the concert. It had been done before with the same recording outfit releasing a London show a few years earlier. This time the recording would not be ready on the night and they were going to do a lot more work with the material including the presentation. Having attended the
concert I knew it would sound great if the recording part went well as the concert itself was excellent, see review of the concert.
A full month after the concert the CD arrived in the post. The packaging was nicely presented, with a small booklet featuring photos from the event and sleeve notes. The music was fitted across two CDs featuring the entire show including the recreated industrial segment. The sound quality is a real standout, no doubt benefitting from the mixing desk input. It's a fabulous live album and highly recommended but also as we wait for the long delayed Laibach Revisited album we can at least now listen to some of its tracks in live form.
Iron Sky is Laibach's first proper and complete soundtrack for a full length movie so it's a new experience even although many of us had long imagined that Laibach's music could lend itself effectively to films. Initially from the early previews and demos of the film it had looked as if the movie soundtrack would simply be moulded from existing Laibach music this would not have be a problem as B Mashina and FIAT intensified the movie clips and made it an eagerly awaited film. However Laibach had created fresh material and mostly based on very strong Germanic influence. The first track is B Mashina although it did not actually feature in the movie, instead had been the main soundtrack to promote the film before its release. It was essentially the same as the version on the WAT album but it had some noticeable differences, significantly it was sung by Milan Fras while it had a different voice in the WAT version. The next track 'Take me to Heaven' has traditional Alpine music mixed with American style English lyrics, a little unusual but worked and this was used open the film.
The most obvious and dominant influence is the composer Richard Wagner, some of his most famous pieces have been re-interpreted electronically, moulded to fit the movie scenes and treated with the unique Laibach style. With much of it influenced by Wagner, it will be interesting to know how much was a result of the VolkWagner project, hopefully this will get released someday as demonstrated on the soundtrack Laibach and Wagner are a good mix. Certainly it makes perfect soundtrack music, Wagner's music is immensely powerful tapping into it was always going capture this energy. The music is excellent but often it's in small snippets, obviously tailored to fit the movie scenes and sometimes has dialogue from the film included hence the CD has around 40 tracks however it all blends nicely together and the US president speech with the piece derived from Tannhauser was highly effective. There are longer pieces including some full length tracks.
The movie itself seems to have mixed opinions although it caught a lot of attention, especially within the movie world where there was a lot of enthusiasm for it. The film was enjoyable and very easy to watch, it was also interesting to see what within the film may have been directly influenced by Laibach.
Vinyl has made a small comeback in recent years, all the more surprising at a time when CD which took their place have been losing ground to the newer digital formats. Music fans who grew up with vinyl often felt that whole experience was diminished with CDs, the artwork certainly lost much of its
impact on a small CD cover. Admittedly I have always preferred the convenience of CDs over vinyl but I would agree that CD version of Baptism did not capture the impact of the LP version with its large booklet and poster along with the overall way it was package together. Gesamkunstwerk
81-86 takes the same approached much further, five records packaged together luxuriously in a leather bound box, also enclosed a large 36 page booklet, one DVD, some postcards and a poster. A metal badge is also included though is packaged separately.
Music is from Laibach's industrial era before they signed to Mute Records and dramatically changed direction with their music. It was for many people industrial music at its best, cold and brutal but always vivid and powerful. I personally found their style of industrial music quite hypnotic and it also uniquely captured the aura of totalitarianism.
Much of the material is rare or unreleased, with some of it from live recordings that had appeared on semi-official tape releases during the early 80's which was very important in spreading the music of Laibach across Europe. Also included are early studio And unpublished recordings which had not been heard before.
Slightly detached but highly welcomed is the DVD giving a visual insight to the music from the records. The footage came from two concerts, one is the last to feature Tomaz Hostnik, the other is the memorial concert at the Malci Belic Hall for Tomaz a couple of years later on December 1984. The material was unique and I had certainly not seen either footage before, which came from private sources and surprisingly good quality.
The box collection is a highly desirable item for keen Laibach fans but possible a little expensive for those with just a casual interest. Unfortunately only a small limited quantity has been made and will be sold out very shortly.
Laibachkunstderfuge is Laibach's interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's unfinished work 'The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge)'. It was an idea they had for many years, eventually a suitable opportunity came along so they got down to work, around the same time as they worked on Volk, and presented a ninety minute effort at the Leipzig Bach festival in 2006. Two years later Laibach have decided to release the music but this was to be as a digital download album from Mute Records, a move that disappointed many however it was also being released on CD in Slovenia via another record label. Those outside Slovenia wanting to buy the CD would find it difficult and expensive using Slovene online shops. At some point soon Laibach should have their long awaited online shop up and running and it should also be available from the merchandise stalls at their concerts.
The album is quite different from Laibach's usual work, while they've worked with many classical sources before, they have taken a different approach for this project so there is not really anything to make a comparison with from their previous work. It's not particularly recognisable as Laibach's music although after a few plays you start to hear a small amount of similarity with the Volk album, particularly in the use of samples. Laibachkunstderfuge is instrumental classical music delivered in the form of an enjoyable electronic style; further more there are some great use of various samples and sound effects significantly enhancing the overall experience. The scratchy record effect used on the track NSK from the Volk album also finds its way onto this album although this time taking the form of a jumpy needle which can sound a little bizarre until you get used to it. They must have some nostalgia for old dusty records, which is rather ironic when the music is only available as a digital download for most people.
The album is another addition to the diverse music Laibach have created over the years and definitely one for their fans to obtain whether it's in CD or digital format. This album was much more than a small side project, they even took the music on tour shortly after the album was released. While Laibach are continuing to work on a number of new projects, one of them will be a production of the Richard Wagner's opera 'Parsifal' in a collaboration with the Croatian National Theatre. The music of Wagner and Laibach should be a perfect combination also Parsifal is my favourite opera from Wagner so I'm definitely looking forward to this project.
Thanks to Saso for sending the CD.
Laibach CC Club 16th April 2007
Live Here Now
The CD was made on the night the concert took place and was available to the audience about five minutes after the performance ended. It's split into two CDs and encased in a digipak with a plain black design with the V shaped Volk emblem, there's no track listings instead just the credit notes on the inside. The first CD is the Volk part of the show and the second CD features the more up-tempo and forceful part with the tracks mainly coming from WAT. Having attended this particular concert I can report that it had captured the sound very well, it's a clean recording with very little crowd noise interfering, as it turn out it was also a very good live performance so well worth capturing and it's certainly a great souvenir. Oddly Francia is spilt into two tracks due a long silence in the middle therefore the sound engineer maybe thought it was another track however it doesn't affect the CD version of the recording. A full review of the concert can be found within this site. The CD package will be available for a limited time and can be ordered from Live Here Now, also available as a download.
A collection of songs inspired by national anthems or hymns was certainly an unusual idea and it would be a joint collaboration with the Slovene group Silence. The press release suggested it would be quite different, stating they were utilising new sonic avenues previously uncharted by the band. Even the new artwork was something of a shock and there was no Laibach cross to be found anywhere. Although those who have been following Laibach for a long time could be quite used to the unexpected, it was a bold dramatic change in almost every way. Gradually many Laibach elements do become more obvious, and despite the major changes it still feels very much like a Laibach album.
It opens with very gentle piano playing for Germania and with the soft voice of a guest vocalist probably Benko from Silence who also features many of the tracks contrasting nicely with Milan's much deeper style. There is also a number of other very good guest vocalists used to great effect. The track begins with a traditional classical sound before a more electronic sound gradually seeps in along with Milan taking over with the vocals. The album as a whole is a fusion of classical and electronic music, with a variety of samples, music segments and sound effects blended together creating a rich and sophisticated sound. The evangelical preacher in the track America works brilliantly both musically and in emphasising the influence of religion, whether by design or accident the preacher was reminiscent of Hitler, intensifying the effect. Yisra’el was created by mixing elements from both Israel and Palestine, a land in perpetual turmoil because of religion. By reinterpreting the music and lyrics of each anthem, conveys Laibach’s comments on the nation, sometimes highlighting a link with the nation’s outlook to the problem.
14 tracks from specifically selected countries such USA, UK, Russia and also China and Japan, you might have expected one for Slovenia but instead they are represented with the pan Slavic anthem Slavonia. The Vatican anthem features due to it's power and influence over a billion followers, having ran through a list they included their own state's anthem. NSK is the one only to actually sound like a national anthem; it’s a reinterpretation of The Great Seal from Opus Dei performed as if it was being played at a military ceremony and presented as if it came from a dusty old record.
The idea for Volk began during Laibach’s world Anthems tour back in 2004, possibly as a result of their observations of the political split of the American people during the Divided States of America tour when a bitter presidential election contest was heavily influenced by the nation’s foreign policy. Silence’s previous work had impressed Laibach and were asked they if would like to collaborate on Volk where Laibach were keen to present a radical new sound and do so without alienating the traditional fan base. The result is very impressive, the music is stylish and sophisticated and the songs often have many layers and complex structures. Nippon is one good example; the music was created from a 40-piece string orchestra and piano soloist and is one of my favourite of the album, the best track is possibly Rossiya.
Anglia is probably the track with strongest Laibach trademark style of their previous albums, a good bit harder than the others though not particularly hard compared with their usual work. There will be a section of fans missing their distinctive bombastic Wagnerian style or the forceful techno found in the previous album WAT. It’s quite laidback and low tempo for Laibach, sometimes quite ambient in places. Though the military approach with the NSK track will go down well with the long-time fans. With Silence they have delivered a great album, very enjoyable and very easy to listen to. It's one of those albums where every track hits the mark. Time will tell but this album could be one of Laibach's best.
Anglia was the best choice for launching the album; it's a really good track and had the strongest recognisable Laibach sound of the album so had the bonus of announcing their return while introducing the new style of Volk.
Anglia is quite blunt in its message that basically suggests the UK is stuck in the past when it comes to world politics. If there were any doubts then the promotional video and cover for the single would settle it and also gave some clues what may have shaped their conclusion. In the Volk album sleevesnotes there are a number of quotations that adds to their point however those in the UK will likely feel somewhat defensive. Interesting that they use the Latin name for England rather than Britannia, maybe Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are excused in their overall view of the actions of the UK.
The track open with classical music playing in the distance before a distinctively Laibach style bass and percussions kicks in, Milan opens the singing with Boris mainly concentrating on the chorus and it all comes together really well. The video is a bit gruesome though. Also featured on the single is Espana and some remixes of the tracks, which are much more up-tempo. The cover is a drawing by Dejan Knez when he was around five or six years old.
300,000VK - Titan
Titan is 300,000VK's fourth album Titan, named after one of Saturn's moons. The project was inspired by the Cassini-Huygens space project and also Gustav Host, who presented the orchestral work 'The Planets' around a century earlier. Using 300000VK usual electronic approach they have created space landscape music, presented as a soundtrack to the expedition. This is far removed from the usual style of Laibach though instantly recognisable to those familiar with the sub-group. The music is minimalistic electronic with no vocal input so the overall result is quite bland when compared to the music of Laibach. It is very much like the background music you might expect floating around a television space documentary therefore will have limited appeal. However many do like this style of music therefore the videoclip from a live performance may give some idea, this can be found at http://www.kibla.org/index.php?id=442&L=1
Looking for Europe
A lavishly designed compilation featuring more than fifty bands and artists, many of them familiar names including the likes of Test Dept, Peter Hook. It's not strictly Neofolk and in any case the definition can be quite hazy. Surprise entry by Laibach who certainly wouldn't fit most people's idea of Neofolk. They used to be heavily involved in the same underground scene around the early and mid-80's before signing to Mute; it played a big part in spreading Laibach's work internationally. Laibach's contribution is a 12-minute Industrial piece but this time using more electronic sounds so it is a bit different from their previous totalitarian industrial sound, the overall result seems somewhat a lot tamer but an interesting effort nevertheless.
Neofolk is possibly associated with groups such as Death In June, Sol Invictus and the newer bands such as Lady Morphia. Death in June have created a lot of good music throughout their long career and often appreciated by the same crowd that follow Laibach, especially those who followed Laibach in the eighties. The compilation is an excellent collection with some great music within and despite the large number of artists involved there are no tracks spoiling it. The four discs are nicely packaged together in a canvas book format with detailed information in English and German along many photographs. Highly recommended.
Trans Slovenia Express Vol 2
Back in 1994 the first compilation played like an album; this is usually quite rare, no doubt the general theme helped to pull this collection of tracks together and of course being a collection of Kraftwerk songs it would be that little bit easier. Over 10 years later we have the same idea however it doesn't quite pull it off the way the first one did. It is a good collection of tracks but some of them do sound little more than remixes of the Kraftwerk songs. Also some of the Kraftwerk songs selected were a bit dry in the first place. Having said that there are some really good efforts from the likes of Rozmarinke with Radioactivity and Siddharta's version of The Robots. Laibach's effort is much more pronounce this time round; in the first compilation their contribution was merely dug out from their archive however for this collection they have recorded a new track specially. Rather mysteriously though quite typical of Laibach it's not a direct cover version but instead a revamped Brother of Mine in a Kraftwerk style. For a band that normally likes doing cover versions it would have been most intriguing to hear what they would do with a Kraftwerk song. In a strange way 'Bruderschaft' sounds more like Kraftwerk doing a cover version of Laibach; it's completely transformed using Kraftwerk sounds and Milan's voice is robotised to a certain extent. The overall result is impressive and is one of the best tracks on the compilation.
After nearly twenty-five years of Laibach it was long overdue for a collection to represent the diverse music they have created all through these years. Finally we have Laibach Anthems; a double CD packaged into a small hard cover book. It is not really a 'Best of' collection, there is a large list of tracks, to my mind at least, that could be considered superior to some of those on the album. It could be a collection of singles, only that Laibach's most commercially appealing single "Across the Universe" is rather conspicuous by its absence and 'Get Back' represents the rather underrepresented album Let It Be. However the album is full of the big guns such as 'Life is Life', 'Sympathy for the Devil' and 'Drzava' along many other great tracks. The main CD features 17 tracks, one of them is a completely new song, 'Mama Leone' a cover version of the notorious Euro disco hit by Bino; this was always going to be interesting and Laibach have managed to pull it off. Ethereal female singing with a strong hint of simmering malevolence, it would make a good film soundtrack; on Anthems it's a good bonus for those who have most of the albums to hear something new. Laibach have certainly gone out of their way to make it a worthwhile purchase for those of us who have been keenly following them all through the years. Aside from the bonus CD which features a number of unreleased B-side type material, there is also a forty page booklet featuring text by Alexei Monroe mixed with artwork and photos from the archives; all nicely put together with the two discs into a small hardback book. Some of the tracks sound as if they have been freshened up a little or some other slight modification; 'Die Liebe' has certainly been re-edited and now seems more direct and much more powerful overall.
The collection is a bit limited with Laibach's more experimental material which is often their most interesting however it will have a much broader appeal and will be ideal for those new to their music. It does also serve as an interesting picture of how their music developed through the years and it has been quite a change. In the mid 80's Laibach had one of the most forceful and brutal sound found anywhere, even to this day there's very little that really matches that level. The Opus Dei album retained much of that power while introducing extra elements such as fuller orchestration and chorals. It gave Laibach a richer sound and made the music more accessible to wider audience while also managing to keep the exhilarating dangerous sound. From the 90's onwards they continued in that direction but easing up
a little on the forceful nature of their music though occasionally hinting back to the hard edge of the past. All through the lifetime of the band they had their unique way of working and the distinctive Laibach sound can always be recognised through the many different styles used in their music.
So if you have all Laibach's albums would Laibach Anthems be worth buying? It would possibly depend on how keen you are on their music but I would say that Mama Leone and the 14 tracks second CD would be more than enough to swing it for most.
Das spiel Ist Aus
Das Spiel Ist Aus promoting both WAT and the newer Laibach Anthems though it is presented in a new remix form. The difference is quite noticeable and the general pace and intensity of the song has increased. Milan's vocal part has been filtered and certain other elements have been made more obvious or altered in some way; overall it's a step in the right direction as the original was possibly a bit too laid back. One minor issue concerning the rather bland background vocals, there's no obvious improvement; I had always felt it is one of the weaker elements of a rather good track. The CD single features no less than seven versions, amongst the remixes the original WAT version and a live performance.
After seven long years Laibach finally returned with their new studio album WAT. It is an excellent album to mark their return, though maybe not quite worth such a long wait, nevertheless a great addition to their works. There are no major surprises within WAT and the Laibach sound is instantly recognisable. It departs from the previous album's use of heavy metal to the more familiar Laibach martial techno alongside Milan's guttural voice and Slavko's choral arrangements. This is all mixed together with a rich exciting and very up-to-date sound that resonates through the whole album giving a new and fresh appeal to Laibach's music. Two fairly distinct styles dominates in WAT, Electronic and Dark Ambient techno along with a couple of soundtrack types and ends in a modern industrial mode for Anti-Semitism which harks back to Laibach's early roots. All the tracks blend and relate nicely together allowing the album as a whole to create a unique and stimulating ambience rather than simply a collection of tracks. Having said that there are a number of tracks that do stand from the rest, for me these are B Mashina, Hell: Symmetry, Das Spiel Ist Aus and Anti-Semitism. The best track of the album is WAT, though quite possibly a little over the top however this is usually when Laibach are at their best and with this song they have created a new classic to be added to the likes of Life is Life, Sympathy for the Devil and Drzava. Lush and glorious music flows while Milan delivers seemingly bizarre lyrics in an uncompromising guttural tone, the choir that almost dominates adds to the intensity. However there are a couple tracks that are a little on the dry side and could possibly have benefited from a stronger hook. Tanz Mit Laibach is pretty good but maybe the choral parts (especially the first part) could have been a little more imaginative and the forceful nature of the song cranked up a bit more but it was a good choice for the single.
Lyrics appear more direct than usual for Laibach, still rather ambiguous but it's as if Laibach have narrowed down the scope and directed the spotlight onto certain issues. It can still be read from different angles and different interpretations can be made depending on the individual who's listening allowing the material to have much greater depth and avoids direct preaching while encouraging debates. However it is the music that is the main concern for most people and Laibach have certainly delivered some great music with this album and much needed respite from the insane blandness that dominates the music industry. It does make you yearn for more so hopefully it's not another seven years before we hear the next album from Laibach.
Tanz Mit Laibach
Laibach have marked their return with re-invigorated fire and brimstone.
After seven long years this single was ideal to let everyone know they are
back. Tanz mit Laibach is forceful energetic power with a crunching techno
beat and Milan is in fine form as he delivers the lyrics in a strong
electrifying voice. Not the most melodic Laibach track and clearly focussing
on the forceful martial rhythms, however is tempered with choral singing
towards the end. The single is highly recommended for the mixes, which are
truly excellent especially Temponauta's Desert Storm remix, a steady martial
beat while utilising the chorals nicely and the overall effect transforms
the track to a modern interpretation of Laibach's industrial style.
Cold Spring Records
Originally released back in 1985 as a semi-official bootleg of their performance at the Neu Konservatiw Festival in Hamburg earlier in the same year. Limited to just a thousand copies and soon became one of Laibach's rarest and highly sought after record. Although quite similar to the Occupied Europe Tour 1985 LP, it's generally considered as the superior album possibly due to the material coming from the same performance allowing the album to flow that little bit smoother.
The music itself has Laibach in excellent form delivering their most powerful and brutal sound with all six tracks coming from the Nova Akropola album. Though only six tracks it's still a fair length with the best track 'Nova Akropola' expanded into a spectacular twelve-minute epic. Cold forceful totalitarian industrial music with Laibach's stage performance magnifying the intensity, it was quite an experience for the audience already bewildered by Laibach's mystifying and menacing image. It's possibly Laibach's most dynamic and fascinating period, where their music and image was both at an unprecedented level of controlled ideological extremism.
This issue has been designed around the original artwork, while adding a great twelve-page booklet containing unique photos from the mid-eighties alongside sleeve-notes by Alexei Monroe delivering an insight into Laibach's music and the effect of their totalitarian identity.
Cold Spring Web Site
The John Peel Sessions
Strange Fruit Records
John Peel invited groups usually indie and cult bands such as Sisters of Mercy, Wedding Present, Joy Division etc to record a special session for his radio show. It was particularly interesting for fans of the groups to hear material a little different from the official material. A popular option for some groups was to record their version of songs from other artist. Interestingly for their first Peel session Laibach recorded their first ever cover version although they have since recorded quite a considerable number since maybe it was this programme that initiated this direction. Peel sessions are live in studio though it was usually recorded a few days before broadcast, it does give the music a certain rawness and in Laibach's case the tracks actually sounds surprisingly punkish. The bass guitar is far more obvious, in general there is greater clarity of the instruments than the usual studio material where it's usually more blended.
It is a bit on the short side with only six tracks but as an album released by the BBC's Strange Fruit label they were not really in a position to include unrelated bonus material. However it is a very interesting CD featuring material from the two Peel sessions. In particular the version of Life is Life will be quite a surprise if not heard before, though recognisable it is very different to the single recorded the following year. The best track is Krst closely followed by Krvoprelitje, which is better known as Ti, Ki Izzivas.
Cold Spring Records
The Chamber is a compilation showcasing 15 tracks from the Cold Spring label. The label specialises in Dark, Industrial, Death Ambience, Ritual, Occultic and Blood music. This CD is a sample of the more recent and forthcoming material from the label. The Chamber is well put together with all the tracks blending well and none jarring the compilation allowing the CD to be enjoyed as an album rather than a typical sampler. Music is predominately neo-classical industrial delivering an overall dark ambient and occasionally hypnotic experience. The Laibach track is a live version of Die Liebe from Neue Konservativ. There are number good tracks but the real highlight is Mark Snow's Cortege. Mark is known for the effective atmospheric background music on the X-Files; this excellent track should also generate interest in his forthcoming album 'Death... Be Not Proud.'
Ignis Fatuus - The Vastness Of It
Folkstorm - Hail The Queen
Mark Snow - Cortege
Laibach - Die Liebe (Live)
Endvra - Theme For An Imaginary Obsession
Novatron - Angel
Band Of Pain - November 1970
Benedikt Middler - Menage A Trois
Schloss Tegal - The Final Glint Of Consciousness
Von Thronstahl - Mitternachtsberg (Remastered)
Toroidh - Europe Is Dead - Part 3
Sleep Research Facility - Deck A - Deck B
The Days Of The Trumpet Call - The Rainbow (Pre-Version)
Kerovian - Let Yourself Float - To The Flute Of Death
A Callenge Of Honour - Havamal (Part II)
Cold Spring Web Site
Rekapitulacija 1980-84 - 2002 Reissue
This is the third issue of Rekapitulacija, with this version changing the original design along with adding two new bonus tracks. The new design is quite different, fresh but maybe not as good as the original 1985 design. The digipack case feels like some cheap recycled material and the sleeve design was better the first time; though on the plus side the German text now has English translations. Overall the Laibach 1999 re-issued design was far better effort. The album itself is an essential purchase for those who don't already have it, Laibach's industrial music was truly exceptional, the power and intensity developed from various totalitarian influences resulted in an unique and exhilarating experience. This album covers Laibach earliest work with the bulk of the material salvaged from their planned first album with the Slovene record company ZKP who ditched Laibach over the increasing political ructions caused by group. The material was eventually released a couple of years later by the German record company Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien. This edition has been completely remastered by Laibach and their regular collaborator Iztor Turk, some subtle differences can be heard such as the haunting bell ringing found between some tracks is now slightly different, sounding a little more distant.
The two bonus songs brings the length of the CD to almost 80 mins, both tracks are live recordings from the Ghost Concert on the Blair Witch Project premiere in Ljubljana 2000. Vade Retro Satanas and Smrt Za Smrt from the early 80's are transformed by a horror film approach complete with the sinister paranormal sounds. This gives Laibach's Industrial music an interesting slant from the original totalitarian mould.
Nova Akropola - 2002 Reissue with bonus Video film
Cherry Red Records
Having previously heard the material from the Opus Dei album and was on the lookout for it, it was Nova Akropola that I had the first opportunity to buy. Shortly after putting the needle on the record I did wonder if there was some mistake, it was quite different from the pomp-orchestrated sound of Opus Dei, here we got cold harsh industrial music. However the album very quickly grew on me; I was pretty much hooked on Laibach's music from then onwards. Nova Akropola is probably Laibach's most brutal album, very powerful and forceful, delivering an intense hypnotic experience. The album contains many classic Laibach tracks. Nova Akropola, bulldozing percussion and gut wrenching vocals. Vojna Poema is the most mellow track, sounding like a war song dug up from World War 2. Drzava, the most techno-like track and sounded well ahead its time. One minor complaint Ti Ki Izzivas, a favourite with many is reduced to brief outro. It has stood the test of time very well and not lost any of its original impact. This particular edition also includes the bonus video track Drzava and retains the original CD bonus track, the excellent Decree. Highly recommended for those who don't already own the CD.
Review of Laibach: M.B. 21 December 1984 and 300 000 V.K. - Also Sprach Johann Paul II by Alexei Monroe
Laibach: M.B. 21 December 1984.
(Mute Grey Area)
These two releases represent almost the entire span of Laibach's career. The first is the next in the archival series of early recordings released by the Grey Area, which began with the excellent "Ljubljana-Zagreb-Beograd". Like that release this contains previously unreleased works vital to an understanding of the group's history. The collection is based around four tracks recorded at an illegal concert held in Ljubljana (Laibach) at a time when the public use of the group's name in the city had been prohibited either in concert or on posters or record sleeves. This "anonymous" show was advertised only by the poster shown on the cover featuring the characteristic Laibach/Malevich cross and the time and venue. The show was also unusual in that the group were accompanied by an improvising clarinettist, illustrating Laibach's link to the wider musical avant-garde of the period. The previously unheard opening track "Judgement of The Century" is an ominous piece of industrial monumentalism and as impressive as the finest tracks of that era. This is followed by fascinating "free jazz"-tinged versions of "Ti, Ki, Izzivas", "Sila" and "Sredi Bojev" from "Rekapitulacija", the first of these is especially powerful. The squalling clarinet does not detract from the massively powerful din made by Laibach and these recordings are arguably more impressive than those on the classic "Occupied Europe Tour" live album. As Ico Vidmar notes in the sleeve text one of the most interesting features is random; the whirring of the film-projector which becomes a highly atmospheric element of the music itself. Besides the recording of the anonymous show there are tracks from shows in Zagreb and Berlin in 1985. In Zagreb Laibach seem not just to have sampled Tito's voice but to have played complete unaccompanied passages from his speeches including the famous "Both those in the east and in the west" passage used on "Panorama". The most intense Zagreb piece is what must be the ultimate version of "Nova Akropola". Cavernous drums and impossibly low drones are set off by a rasping distorted vocal at an agonizingly slow tempo. None of the other Zagreb and Berlin tracks have been released previously and they are strong tracks in their own right which already contain many characteristic Laibach sounds; discordant pianos, braying stags etc. As the final piece ends a high-pitched TV signal drone gradually fades to silence and the German presenter poses a rhetorical question; "Laibach - Gut?".
300 000 V.K. Also Sprach Johann Paul II
(A.M.D.G. CD 1)
At the opposite end of the group's development is the second full release by their 300 000 V.K. sub-group. What connects the two releases is that besides sampling Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" in its centenary year this CD also recycles various early Laibach material, particularly "Jaruzelsky" from "Rekapitulacija" plus material from the previous 300 000 V.K. "Satanic Techno" release as well as the "Kapital" album. Besides the Strauss centenary the project was conceived as a satanic techno response to the visit of the Pope to Slovenia in 1996 and the hype surrounding it and is supposedly "Dedicated to forthcoming triumph of the Christian religion, 19.9.99". The finest tracks here are actually those that don't use Strauss' theme. Due to its 2001 associations and general familiarity it seems a dissappointingly obvious theme to sample compared to Laibach's far more inspired use of classical sources in the past. The CD has much less initial impact than the sublime "Satanic Techno" CD of 1994 but here the devil is in the detail. The mix is sufficiently dense that the classical sample feels like a distraction from the more dynamic effects it is framed by; rippling bass distortion, choirs, techno beats, Laibach samples and the voice of John Paul courtesy of Vatican Radio which is thanked in the acknowledgements. It's an appropriately dramatic voice but only on "Divine Order" does it fully emerge, accompanied by melodramatic rave passages and classical samples. This is fine listening and the mere fact of the use of the Pope in this context adds to the enjoyment but again there's a feeling that something even more intense could have been achieved, similar to Laibach's use of Tito's voice. "Resurrection of the Kinderreich" is based on the "Kapital" track by Laibach, extending the cello theme to good effect. However its probably on "Hell's March Epilepsys" that the disparate elements come together best, creating some kind of stormy, pre-millenial, classical-techno hybrid. Yet while there is no shortage of drama here and much to be heard it does not seem as "elemental" as the earlier works. While both works are informed by the same spirit the greater power of the first indicates the continuing retrogarde imperative of going "back to the future", not so much for sounds but for the terrible spirit and intensity of the early days. In this way the present might be brought back on to a more even footing with the group's past.
Alexei Monroe 1997.
Schlecht Und Ironisch - Laibach Tribut
A Laibach tribute album from bands of the alternative music scene, put together by the Italian-based Radio Luxor's label EDNE. The bands are from a variety of genre such as Electronic, Industrial, Darkwave etc.
Most of the bands have reworked the Laibach songs completely, moulding to their style giving the tracks their own identity and rendering the Laibach connection secondary. Runes Order's version of The Great Seal is just a mere hint of the original however seems to have captured a similar sombre mood. Kirlian Camera's The Final Countdown is more a direct cover of Europe's original with near identical vocals, there are some Laibach connections mainly the excellent choral piece at the end. Similarly both God Is God tracks appear to be more like the original rather than Laibach's. Meanwhile Andrew King's War Poem is not a cover of Vojna Poema, I believe it's a loose translation of a Spanish war song. The closest to Laibach's original was Prager Handgriff's version of Message From The Black Star, though the title is down as Dark Star rather than Black Star. Northgate was the best for capturing some of the Laibach atmosphere despite the light echoing vocals with Nova Akropola.
The tribute album has been a worthwhile effort but ultimately whether you like the album will depend on whether you like the sort of bands contributing, however most keen Laibach fans will find it interesting.
Angels and Agony - God Is God
Manipulation - Declaration Of Freedom
Andrew King - War Poem
Kirlian Camera - The Final Countdown
Discordance - Agnus Dei
Prager Handgriff - Message From The Dark Star
Chaos/Order - Brother of Mine
Northgate - Nova Akropola
Runes Order - The Great Seal
Knifeladder - Dogs Of War
Die Larm - God Is God
Manipulation - Geburt Einer Nation
Paolo F. Bragaglia - Mars
Blenheim - Also Spratch Walter Ulbricht (Smrt)
Laibach 1999 Reissue
This is the 4th edition of Laibach's first LP which was released in 1985 on vinyl. This issue has a completely new design with a new cover plus a booklet containing lyrics and artwork from Irwin and Laibach. There is an extra three bonus tracks to complement the two bonus tracks added when it was first issued on CD. The original eight tracks have been remastered, some more noticeable than others such as Decree.
If you don't already have this album then this will be an excellent purchase. Tracks such as Drzava, Cari Amici Soldati and Brat Moj are classics. The three new bonus tracks are a lot better than the original two bonus tracks, recorded by 300,000VK which sounds a little too experimental. The new tracks were recorded by Strom und Klang and Laibach for Noordung's production - The Prayer Machine. Note one track - The Armed Man (L'homme Arme) has already featured elsewhere on a compilation called War Smash Hits, released by Sub Rosa. These songs are fairly similar to the Kapital material, in fact uses some of the same samples.
300,000VK Bill Gates - Hard Drive
Laibach's sub-group 300,000VK have existed almost as long as Laibach. They first appeared in 1982 and have been involved in a few small projects notably Sympathy for the Devil and Morbid Angels' Laibach Remixes. In 1996 they released their first album - Also Sprach Johann Paul II - which was enjoyable classical techno music. Hard Drive is different and will not have the same broad appeal as the first album, the music will be too minimalistic for most. The albums consist of mostly hard fast drum'n'bass techno but lacking vocals or melodies to keep it interesting. There are some good ideas but on the whole it is a little bit dull.