Laibach


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Sorry things have been a little quiet here at TWBITW—it took us longer to sleep off our South by Southwest hangovers than we had anticipated. Also, our ears are still ringing from seeing GWAR. If you’ve never been sonically assaulted by Oderus and co. before in person, seriously—we can’t recommend it highly enough. Just plan on taking a few vacation days after the show—you’ll need them.

Anyway, today’s weird band is another oldie but goodie, and comes to us all the way from the former Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia. Formed in 1980, when Yugoslavia was still under Communist rule, Laibach was a sort of proto-industrial rock band-slash-performance art project that managed to simultaneously celebrate and mock the trappings of totalitarianism in all its forms. They’ve described their own music and iconography as “radically ambiguous” and, judging from the range of responses they’ve gotten, they seem to have succeeded: Detractors and critics (not to mention the censorship-happy Communist regime in Yugoslavia, which frequently banned the group’s performances) have accused them of being fascists, Stalinists, Nazi sympathizers and/or radical Slovenian nationalists, while their fan base seems to include everyone from arty types who treat the band’s militaristic costumes and Wagnerian martial-industrial music as sly satire of fascist/skinhead culture to…well, actual skinheads.

Is all of this starting to sound a little too much like a post-modernist graduate thesis project? Well, not to worry, because here’s the most brilliant thing about Laibach: Much of their music is actually highly accessible, and frequently takes the form of Teutonic/industrial-style covers of familiar pop music. Laibach have tackled everything from the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” to the Beatles’ “Let It Be” to Europe’s “Final Countdown.” They even did “Jesus Christ Superstar” and an album of national anthems called Volk. If you thought Jimi Hendrix did weird things to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” wait till you hear Laibach’s version of it.

As great as Laibach’s covers can be, their most memorable musical moments tend to come on their original compositions, when the jackboots hit the dance floor and all “Heil!” breaks loose. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) Although the “Fear the Kittens” video for this song (courtesy of Rathergood.com) is pretty awesome, it still can’t top the original.

You might also like: Rammstein, Aesthetic Meat Front, Einsturzende Neubauten

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(Bonus factoid: Laibach may be the only industrial band to have a winery named after them. Suck on that, Rammstein!)

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About weirdestband

Founder of Weirdest Band in the World.

Posted on March 29, 2010, in Band of the Week and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey guys, love the Laibach info. This band, for years, has had such a bad rap. I thinks due to Laibachs’ music, seems to me at times, gets in the hands of the “wrong” group of folks. These “wrong” folks being: Neo-Nazi’s, skinheads and, other ignorant no-intelligence bein’ fools. Funny story about the “wrong” people and myself wearing a Laibach (Wax Trax!) t-shirt: Back in 1989, I was living in Austin, TX. I was carothering down Sixth Street one Friday night, on my way to a DR/Fearless Iranians From HelI gig at the Ritz on 6th, when these three inbred skinhead-types approached me and queried me on “How White Power I was(?)” I asked them, “How White Power I am?” How do you mean? Apparently these goons somehow couldn’t grasp the concept of Art in Irony/satire/Parody; so I denouced my so-called White Heritage and gave up the Laibach shirt. Luck would have it, that while this little transaction was taking place, five brothers, across the street aked me why I gave up my shirt to those “Kojak Motherfuckers.” I explained what these Kojaks were about, and who they didn’t like, this-that and-the-other. Twenty-minutes later I, received my shirt back unharmed and $210 in cash-$210 more than I had! I bought these guys a few drinks and invited them to the show. They loved it and couldn’t understand why these goons would grace and fuck up a good show. That, I couldn’t explain. That’s my story. I did get lucky enough to catch Laiback on their Jesus Christ Super Stars tour in 1996. Man, what a show!

    • Hm, your story seems to imply that the five “brothers” mugged the three “inbred skinhead-types.” We shouldn’t condone that sort of thing, and yet we have to admit, that’s a pretty great story. Glad you got your shirt back!

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