Laibach

An Introduction To... Laibach/Reproduction Prohibited

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Compared to the 2004 compilation Anthems (which was a two disc set, but with one disc given up to remixes) this 2012 overview of Laibach has eight extra years to cover, and with one bonafide career highlight occurring during that time, the absolutely epic "B Mashina", which was a key feature of the Nazis-on-the-moon, dark comedy film Iron Sky. If getting "B Mashina" is a "pro", then losing the jackbooted techno monster called "Tanz Mit Laibach" from the tracklist is certainly a "con", but true to their titles, the older Anthems focused on the "greatest hits" of the group, while this one goes for the full, avant-garde Laibach picture. At least as much as can fit on a one disc overview, since this group that some see as Rammstein in fascist garb are much more than a Germanic techno band who do absurd cover versions. For one, they're Slovenian, and their cover versions ironically twist pop and rock, often into totalitarian anthems, like morphing Queen's "One Vision" into the industrial propaganda hit "Geburt Einer Nation". Opus' positive Euro-hit "Live Is Life" becomes the stern work song "Leben Heißt Leben" and Europe's hair metal standard "Final Countdown" becomes a Kraftwerk-meets-KMFDM-styled embrace of the New World Order and military strength, all of it fun or funny at face value, but they are wry and snide stabs at the politics of the Western world as well. An art collective rather than a traditional band, Laibach were formed before the Yugoslavian breakup and had considered themselves Slovenian the whole time, but with that collective state issue settled to some degree, their commenting on the one world empire and its cultural invasion of the world continued with a disc of national anthems done Laibach-style ("Germania" and "Anglia" are included here), while pop icons like Bob Dylan (their sinister "Ballad Of A Thin Man" gets at the grimness of the song) and Nana Mouskouri/Bino (the version "Mama Leone" is angelic and cold, all at once) were also explored. An Introduction To gives a taste of it all, and adds to it a great "Tanz Mit Laibach" alternative with "Warme Lederhaut", a razor-sharp cover of the Normal's "Warm Leatherette", a conceptional move in itself since it was written by their record company's (Mute Records) label boss (Daniel Miller). As to the "why?" of it all, "Laibach doesn't function as an answer, but a question", so it is fitting that this Introduction is less satisfying and sharp, but more enlightening than the crowd-pleasing Anthems.

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