Laibach – Anthems

A band that certainly deserves an overview about their career is Laibach. Formed in Yugoslavia in 1980, this group has both been immensely influential (Rammstein!) and controversial. Always exploring the thin line between art and ideology, they certainly knew how to attract attention. They played with numerous clich├ęs, both from socialist states and Western capitalist society and culture. This was often translated into totalitarian and militariy images.

I can only say that this is a very recommended compilation. Anthems comes with a fabulous packaging. Two cd’s in a hardcover book, with striking photos and artwork created by the Neue Slovenische Kunst collective. The book also contains a long and very informative article about their history, describing all developments in their career. Diverse influences are stated such as avantgarde art (Beuys, Duchamp, Warhol), experimental classical and electroacoustic music, Kraftwerk, postpunk, industrial and much more.

Disc 1 contains 17 Laibach classics, almost 80 minutes of military bombast. Beat-driven and danceable on the newest tracks, dark crossover rock in the middle and experimental industrial structures on the early work. Anthems starts with two recent tracks, the straightforward marching dance stompers ‘Das Spiel ist aus’ and ‘Tanz mit Laibach’ (based on DAF’s ‘Der Mussolini’). Then comes the immortal bombastic Europe adaptation ‘Final countdown’, one of the many bizarre covers of their career. It comes from the album NATO, from which also In the Army Now (Status Quo) and Alle gegen Alle (DAF) are included.

These are certainly not the only covers on ‘Anthems’: The Stones and the Beatles are also given the Laibach treatment and of course the 1987 hits ‘Leben heisst Leben’ (Opus) and ‘Geburt einer Nation’ Queen are present from the succesful album Opus Dei. The last tracks on the album are the oldest and also the least accessible. Harsh, industrial and chaotic but fascinating are tracks like ‘Die Liebe’, ‘Panorama’ and ‘Drzava’. As a bonus we are treated to one new track, a version of Drafi Deutscher’s schlager classic ‘Mama Leone’, which is so sweet that it becomes scary.

If this isn’t enough a second disc is included in this release, with 14 remixes of Laibach tracks. Another 77 minutes of Laibach is a bit too much for me, I have to confess, and the originals have enough impact on their own. Some remixes are quite nice though, like the Ourorobots version of ‘Das Speil ist aus’, the goa trance mix by Juno Reactor of ‘The Final countdown’. or the heavy techno mix by Richie Hawtin of ‘Wirtschaft’.

artist: Laibach
label: Mute
details: 2cd, 31 tracks, 2004