Laibach’s “The Lonely Goatherd” video is creepy. And charming. But mostly creepy.

laibach-sound-of-music

Slovenian art-rockers Laibach have long possessed an uncanny ability to take even the most well-worn songs and make them sound unfamiliar and more than a little creepy, from “In the Army Now” to “Jesus Christ Superstar.” But they’ve really outdone themselves with their recent reinvention of The Sound of Music.

After releasing videos of their oddly affecting interpretations of the title track and “My Favorite Things,” they recently dropped the project’s third and most bizarre video yet, for their mournful take on “The Lonely Goatherd.” In the clip, which features guest vocalist Boris Benko alongside Laibach’s gravel-voiced frontman, Milan Fras, Fras plays shepherd to a flock of dancing young girls in kneesocks as Benko looks on through a pair of binoculars in his alpineer’s tweed jacket and hiking boots, shotgun ominously slung over one shoulder. It’s all very voyeuristic and vaguely pedophiliac until Fras and Benko suddenly break out their own awkwardly charming dance moves near the video’s end. Fras even yodels, if you can call anything he does with his graveyard rasp yodeling. So maybe it’s all good, innocent fun. Unless it isn’t.

For more on Laibach’s The Sound of Music, read our last post about it or visit the website of their label, Mute Records.

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Rammstein announce first-ever stadium tour

rammstein-2019

Two things that are hard to believe: First, that it’s been nearly 10 years since Rammstein‘s last album, and second, that a band known for its over-the-top, pyrotechnic-heavy live show has apparently never done a proper stadium tour before. But in 2019, both those things are set to change.

Less than a month after guitarist Paul Landers casually let slip in a gear interview that the band was working on new music, the German industrial demigods confirmed via their website that not only will they drop a new album next spring — their first since 2009’s Liebe ist für alle da — but they’ll be supporting it with a massive European stadium tour, with stops in 25 cities (full dates below). What will a stadium-sized Rammstein tour look like? Probably something like this, only with even more fire.

As far as the new music, Landers told MusicRadar that the band has been working together in one room, rather than tracking all the parts individually as they’ve done in the past. “We’ve decided to make the record more of a band-unit recording than a bunch of guys playing separately,” he said. “We’ll have to see how it all ends up on the record, but the basic idea is you are hearing a band playing … you could say it’s inspired by our live sound.” In the news post announcing the tour, they also mentioned that they’re working with an orchestra and choir. So it sounds like Rammstein fans are in for something epic.

Tickets for the European tour went on sale today and it looks like several dates are already sold out, so get your ass over to the Rammstein website if you want in on the action. (No tour dates for the rest of the world yet, unfortunately, except a couple dates in Mexico around New Year’s Eve.) Full dates below, right after Till and the gang rock your faces off with this live clip from Hellfest in France in 2016. That spark-shooting bow-and-arrow contraption really ought to be available in the Rammstein online store, don’t you think?

12/31/2018 Puerto Vallarta, Explanada Hotel Secrets
01/02/2109 Puerto Vallarta, Explanada Hotel Secrets
05/27/2019 Gelsenkirchen, Veltins-Arena
05/28/2019 Gelsenkirchen, Veltins-Arena
06/01/2019 Barcelona, RCDE Stadium
06/05/2019 Bern, Stade de Suisse
06/08/2019 Munich, Olympiastadion
06/09/2019 Munich, Olympiastadion
06/12/2019 Dresden, Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion
06/13/2019 Dresden, Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion
06/16/2019 Rostock, Ostseestadion
06/19/2019 Copenhagen, Telia Parken
06/22/2019 Berlin, Olympiastadion
06/25/2019 Rotterdam, De Kuip
06/28/2019 Paris, Paris La Défense Arena
06/29/2019 Paris, Paris La Défense Arena
07/02/2019 Hannover, HDI Arena
07/06/2019 Milton Keynes, Stadium MK
07/10/2019 Brussels, Stade Roi Baudouin
07/13/2019 Frankfurt am Main, Commerzbank-Arena
07/16/2019 Prague, Eden Aréna
07/17/2019 Prague, Eden Aréna
07/20/2019 Luxembourg, Roeser Festival Grounds
07/24/2019 Chorzów, Stadion Śląski
07/29/2019 Moscow, VTB Arena – Central Dynamo Stadium
08/02/2019 Saint Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg-Stadium
08/06/2019 Riga, Lucavsala
08/10/2019 Tampere, Ratina Stadion
08/14/2019 Stockholm, Stockholm Stadion
08/18/2019 Oslo, Ullevaal Stadion
08/22/2019 Vienna, Ernst-Happel-Stadion
08/23/2019 Vienna, Ernst-Happel-Stadion

Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s “Great Noises” getting reissued Nov. 5th

bow-gamelan-great-noises

Turns out our timing in featuring British avant-percussion group Bow Gamelan Ensemble last month was better than we realized. Not only are they the subject of a gallery retrospective in Scotland that opened this past weekend (and runs through Dec. 15th), they’re also about to see their groundbreaking 1988 album, Great Noises That Fill the Air, get a special 30th anniversary reissue via U.K. label/distributor Cold Spring. This will be the first time Great Noises has ever been released digitally or on CD, and I’m pretty sure the cassette and LP versions were long out of print, as well. So yeah, this is a big deal for fans of avant-garde sound installation art.

The Great Noises reissue comes out next Monday, Nov. 5th, but you can stream the whole thing (and pre-order your copy) right now via Bandcamp. Here’s opening track “Two ‘Marimbas’,” which gives you an idea of the percussive merriment that awaits:

For more information on Bow Gamelan and the reissue, or to pre-order the CD, visit Cold Spring’s online store.

The hills are alive with the sound of Laibach

Laibach-North-Korea

Remember when Carrie Underwood stole The Sound of Music? Well, Laibach are stealing it back. The Slovenian pop-industrial collective are gearing up to release their own version of the insanely popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical via Mute Records on Nov. 23rd. Here’s a video for their version of “My Favorite Things,” which features a children’s choir and, in this live version recently debuted in Austria, a video backdrop of flying steaks, My Pretty Pony, nuns, Campbell’s soup cans and wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. Like much of what Laibach does, it’s unclear whether they’re serious or taking the piss. Probably a bit of both.

So what inspired the sepulchral-voiced Milan Fras and his bandmates to want to sing about whiskers on kittens? Randomly, it was their much-publicized 2015 trip to North Korea. In preparing to become the first Western rock band ever to perform there, they learned that The Sound of Music is among the few pieces of Western art not censored by Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian government; many of its songs are even used to teach English in schools. So they worked up live versions of “Edelweiss,” “Do-Re-Mi” and other tunes from the musical, hoping that such familiar songs would help them connect with their North Korean audience. In a nod to its origins, Laibach’s version of The Sound of Music will also include a traditional Korean folk song called “Airirang” and another track featuring a gayageum, a Korean zither-like instrument.

Here’s a video for “The Sound of Music” that was actually filmed while the band was in North Korea.

I haven’t heard the full album yet, but already I feel like The Sound of Music represents peak Laibach even better than their previous Laibach-iest moment, their 2006 collection of national anthems called Volk. Their best work has always played with themes of nationalism and totalitarianism in clever, subversive ways — often through the lens of pop music — and using a visit to the most totalitarian country on Earth as the jumping-off point for a reinterpretation of a popular American musical about the Nazi annexation of Austria gives them all sorts of fresh opportunities to explore those themes. I mean, just look at the cover art:

cover lp + cd

You can pre-order The Sound of Music here.

DDAA (Déficit des Années Antérieures)

DDAA

Psychofon Records, the current label for this week’s weird band, compares them to The Residents, Nurse With Wound and Can. Which sounds like they’re casting way too wide of a net — until you listen to the surreal, percussive soundscapes of Déficit Des Années Antérieures (DDAA) and realize that yeah, that’s actually pretty spot-on.

Formed in 1977 by three students from the School of Beaux Arts in Caen, France, DDAA’s music encompasses everything from eerie tape loop experiments to tribal percussion to minimalist post-punk anthems that make Suicide sound like Wham! by comparison. Until 1992, they were wildly prolific, releasing somewhere around 15 albums and various EPs and singles, many of which were available only on cassette. They resurfaced with another pair of albums around 2000, took another hiatus, and then have been pretty active since 2011, picking up right where they left off with releases like Ne regarde pas par la fenêtre (Do not look out the window), a four-song EP of dadaist hymns set to industrial throbs and foreboding electronic music.

Amazingly, despite their prodigious output, Jean-Luc André, Sylvie Martineau-Fée and Jean-Philippe Fée — the three musicians who have formed the core of DDAA for the band’s entire existence — appear to remain virtually unknown outside of France. (And maybe Germany, too — shout-out to German reader Sebastian, who turned us onto them.) There is very little information about them available in English so I don’t know their full backstory, or what other projects, if any, they’ve been associated with. It does appear that “Fée” is a stage name, since the Psychofon website translates it and identifies them as Sylvie Martineau-Fairy and Jean-Philippe Fairy. Or maybe they just have a particularly apt surname for their otherworldly music and they didn’t want all us non-Francophone folks to miss out on properly appreciating it.

Did France have MTV in the early ’80s? Maybe that explains the existence of several DDAA music videos from around that era, which are just as delightfully bizarre as their music. Here’s “25 pièces sont vides” from their 1984 album La Familie des Saltimbanques. The sound quality is kinda crappy, so you might want to turn it up.

Amazing, right? Both totally avant-garde and totally ’80s. Most of their tracks, especially from this era, have very assertive, atmospheric bass lines, which appear to be courtesy of Jean-Philippe Fée. Here’s another music video from the same year but a different album (told you they were prolific): Les Ambulants‘ “The Riddle’s Standard.” I especially love the vocals on this one, which somehow manage to sound both strangled and incantatory, like a priest delivering a sermon while chugging sacramental wine out of a paper bag.

Nearly 40 years later, they’re still at it, performing live shows that are basically slow-moving storm fronts of aural unease, and releasing new music that continues to defy categorization. I’ll leave you with a track from their 2015 album Hazy World called “Pirouette” that sounds like a symphony for idling lawnmowers, or maybe the world’s largest moth swarm flapping their wings against the windows of a screened-in porch. France’s answer to The Residents? Sort of — but it’s probably more accurate to say that DDAA don’t sound like anyone else.

Links:

Weird of the Day: The Normal, “Warm Leatherette”

The Normal

I’ve just started reading Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, author Simon Reynolds’ very convincing argument for considering the six years following the breakup of The Sex Pistols to be among the most wildly creative in pop music history. I’m only a few chapters in, but already it’s reacquainted me with, or introduced me to, a slew of fantastic music from that era that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

I’d put The Normal in that overlooked category. Although it’s certainly a project familiar to anyone who grew up in the U.K. in those years, or went to industrial and EBM clubs in the ’80s, most younger fans have probably never heard of Daniel Miller’s post-Kraftwerk experiment in clinically stark electronic music—in part, because Miller only put out two songs as The Normal, before he got more interested in releasing other artists through his label, the influential (and still going strong) Mute Records.

Both of The Normal’s two songs are pretty weird. “T.V.O.D.” is all about sticking TV antennas into your veins, but “Warm Leatherette,” inspired by the J.G. Ballard novel Crash, is about fucking someone who’s just been in a car crash right before they die. So just in terms of creep factor, “Warm Leatherette” wins. There’s also something about its electro-shock synths that still sounds futuristic, even after four decades (it was released in 1978).

Weird of the Day: Teatr Dada, “Das Produkt”

Teatr Yada

A reader from Russia named Lianna sent us this amazing animated video for a song called “Das Produkt” by the Russian Goth/industrial band Teatr Yada, whose name translates to ‘Theater of Poison.” We couldn’t find much information about them, but apparently their lead singer Yan Nikitin died of a drug overdose a couple of years ago. Which is too bad, because based on “Das Produkt” and a few live clips floating around YouTube, he was a talented singer and his band had an arrestingly creepy sound.

Besides the music, the other star of “Das Produkt,” obviously, is the animation, which is the work of a very talented Russian artist/filmmaker called Kol-Belov. If you have an hour to kill, we highly recommend deep-diving into his website.