Laibach (band)

Laibach (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Laibach

Img_capt = Laibach
Img_size =
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Slovenia
Genre = Electronic dance
Martial industrial
Years_active = 1980–present
Label = Mute
Associated_acts = 300.000 V.K.

Laibach is a Slovenian avant-garde music group, strongly associated with industrial, martial, and neo-classical musical styles. Laibach formed June 1 1980 in Trbovlje, Slovenia. Laibach represents the music wing of the "Neue Slowenische Kunst" (NSK) art collective, of which it was a founding member in 1984. The name "Laibach" is the German name for Slovenia's capital city, Ljubljana.


Laibach has frequently been accused of both far left and far right political stances due to their use of uniforms and totalitarian-style aesthetics and also due to the Wagnerian influence found in some of their music, notably the thunder in "Sympathy for the Devil (Time for a Change)" and releases such as "Macbeth". They were also accused of being members of the neonationalism movement which reincarnates modern ideas of nationalism. When confronted with such accusations, Laibach are quoted as responding, "We are fascists as much as Hitler was a painter" .cite web|url=| Laibach Biography|accessdate = 2007-04-22] As Hitler was in his early life a painter, perhaps if only nominally, this reply is not an outright denial but rather entirely in keeping with the band's cultivation of ambiguity.

Laibach is notorious for rarely stepping out of character. Some releases feature artwork by the Communist and early Dada artist/satirist, John Heartfield. Laibach concerts have sometimes aesthetically appeared as political rallies. When interviewed, they answer in wry manifestos, showing a paradoxical lust and condemnation for authority.

Richard Wolfson wrote of the group:

Laibach's method is extremely simple, effective and horribly open to misinterpretation. First of all, they absorb the mannerisms of the enemy, adopting all the seductive trappings and symbols of state power, and then they exaggerate everything to the edge of parody... Next they turn their focus to highly charged issues — the West's fear of immigrants from Eastern Europe, the power games of the EU, the analogies between Western democracy and totalitarianism. [Wolfson, 2003

Cover songs

Laibach is also known for their cover versions, which are often used to subvert the original message or intention of the song—a notable example being their version of the song ("Live is Life") by Opus, an Austrian arena rock band. In this example, Laibach recorded two new interpretations of the song, which they titled Leben Heißt Leben, and Opus Dei. The first of these two interpretations was the opening song on the Laibach album "Opus Dei" (1987), and was sung in German. The second version, Opus Dei, was promoted as a single, and its promotional video (which used the title "Life is Life") was played extensively on American cable channel MTV [Monroe, Alexei. Interrogation Machine: Laibach and NSK. MIT Press, 2005. p 231] . Opus Dei retained some of the original song's English lyrics, but was delivered in a musical style that left the meaning of the lyrics open to further interpretation by the listener. Whereas the original is a feel-good reggae anthem, Laibach's subversive interpretation twists the melody into a sinister, rolling military march. With the exception of the promotional video, the refrain is at one instance translated into German, giving an eerie example of the sensitivity of its lyrics to context.

Other notable covers include the entirety of the Beatles album "Let It Be" (1988)—with the exclusion of the title track—and their maxi-single "Sympathy for the Devil" (1988) which deconstructs the Rolling Stones song of the same name with seven different interpretations of the song. "Opus Dei"—itself entitled in apparent reference to their cover of Opus's reggae anthem "Live is Life", the P2 lodge, and the eponymous Catholic organization—features a cover of Queen's "One Vision" with lyrics translated into German under the title "Geburt einer Nation", starkly revealing the ambiguity of lines like "One race one hope/One real decision". In "NATO" (1994), Laibach also memorably re-work Europe's glam metal anthem "The Final Countdown" as a Wagnerian disco epic.

In 2004, Laibach re-mixed the song "Ohne Dich" by Rammstein in a significantly altered version. Unlike the solo male vocals in the Rammstein original, this re-mix features both male and female vocals (supplied by Laibach's Milan Fras and Mina Špiler from the band Melodrom), and the orchestral sound of the original has been supplemented—and in some sections even replaced—by a more electronic element. The lyrics of the song were also subtly altered, most noticeably in the chorus: the original version was "Ohne dich kann ich nicht sein" (roughly: "without you I cannot exist"), whereas Laibach's re-worked the chorus declares "Ohne mich kannst du nicht sein" (roughly: "Without me you cannot exist").


Although primarily a musical group, Laibach has sometimes worked in other media. In their early years, especially before the founding of Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), Laibach produced several works of visual art. A notable example was "MB 84 Memorandum" (1984) an image of a black cross that served as a way to advertise Laibach's appearances during a period in the 1980s when the government of Yugoslavia banned the name "Laibach". [cite web|url=|title=ARTMargins - Winifred M. Griffin: Review of Laibach and Irwin|accessdate = 2007-04-22] Cross imagery, and variations on the cross are apparent in many Laibach recordings and publications.

The visual imagery of Laibach's art (or 'Laibach Kunst', as it calls itself) has been described as 'radically ambiguous' [Monroe, Alexei. Interrogation Machine. MIT Press, 2005. p76.] , An early example of this ambiguity would be the woodcut entitled 'The Thrower,' also known as Metalec ("The Metal Worker"). This work features a monochrome silhouette of a figure with a clenched fist holding a hammer. The work could be seen by its original Slovene viewers as a poster promoting industrial protest, but the poster could have also been interpreted as a symbol of industrial pride. Another aspect of this woodcut is the large typefaced word 'LAIBACH', evoking memories of the Nazi occupation of Slovenia (when the capitol city was briefly known as Laibach). This piece was featured prominently during a TV interview of Laibach in 1983, during which the interviewer Jure Pengov called Laibach "enemies of the people." [Monroe, Alexei. Interrogation Machine. MIT Press, 2005. p161.]


Some early Laibach albums were pure industrial, with hard industrial percussions, heavy rhythms, and roaring vocals. Later in the mid-80s, the Laibach sound became more richly layered with samples from classical music—including from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. The band began their tradition of cover songs in 1987 with the album Opus Dei, where their sound was changed again to take on a more pop sound with classic pop structures. Fact|date=May 2008


Martial music

Some early material by Laibach and later neoclassical releases by the band—such as 1990's "Macbeth" release—were influential on certain artists within the martial music genre.


The popular German musical group Rammstein has acknowledged influence by both the aesthetic approach and material of Laibach. When members of Laibach were asked by an interviewer about Rammstein "stealing" from them, they responded that "Laibach does not believe in originality... Therefore, Rammstein could not 'steal' much from us. They simply let themselves get inspired by our work, which is absolutely a legitimate process. We are glad that they made it. In a way, they have proven once again that a good 'copy' can make more money on the market than the 'original.' " [cite web|url=|title=Interview: Laibach|accessdate = 2007-04-22] . Laibach would later provide a remix for the Rammstein single "Ohne Dich".


Out on July 9 2007 via Laibach's own label NSK are 4 releases by the Laibach side-projects 300.000 VK and Rotor. From the electronic project Rotor featuring Mina Špiler (Melodrom/Laibach) comes "Phonophobia" and "Rotorsphere" which both combine 'modern technology effects, live-experimentations, DJ-compatible rhythms and techno-industrial mayhem' as they call it. Next is 300.000 VK with two reissues, "Hard Drive : Bill Gates" and "Paracelsus", the first holding mostly hard and fast drum'n'bass techno. "Paracelsus" from its side has been out of print for several years since its original release on 31 October 1994. [ [ 4 Laibach side-project releases] ]


Laibach has been the subject of several documentaries:

* 2005, [] - Directed by Sašo Podgoršek
* 1996, "Predictions of Fire" ("Prerokbe Ognja") [] - Directed by Michael Benson
* 1993, "" [] - Directed by Daniel Landin and Chris Bohn
* 1988, "" (Slovenian title: "Laibach: Zmaga pod soncem", serbo-croatian title Laibach: Pobeda pod suncem) [] - Directed by Goran Gajic


In 1978 Dejan Knez formed his very first band Salte Morale. [ [ the Slovenian ] ] Basically, Salte Morale was the first incarnation of Laibach. During summer holidays 1980 after the suggestion of Knez father, famous Slovenian painter and artist Janez Knez, the band changed the name into Laibach. This incarnation included Dejan Knez, Srečko Bajda, Andrej Lupinc, Tomaž Hostnik and Bine Zerko. Soon after that, Knez's cousin Ivan (Jani) Novak and Milan Fras joined the band. In the first period Laibach were a quintet, but soon after that they declared that Laibach has only four members – ‘Vier Personen’. Sometimes those four members of the band were signed with their pseudonyms: Dachauer, Keller, Saliger and Eber. [ [ [ Nskstate.Com [ Laibach [ Konzert Fuer Das Kreuzschach Und Vier Schauspieler ] ] . From the mid ‘80s until mid ‘90s the four full time members were Dejan Knez, Milan Fras, Ervin Markošek and Ivan (Jani) Novak. From time to time, some other persons, such as Oto Rimele (from Lačni Franc band), Nikola Sekulović, famous bass player from the Demolition Group, and some other musicians (such as Matej Mršnik and Roman Dečman) joined Laibach. Slovene singer and radio announcer Anja Rupel has also performed with the group.

Unfortunately, Ervin Markošek and Dejan Knez became serious drug addicts Fact|date=July 2008, and both left the band. Knez joined the group again during the WAT tour; and again on the promo concert of the Kunst der Fuge in Leipzig. In the meanwhile Knez was not in the band. Markošek again appears on the press photos for WAT. On the press photos for Volk album were Ivan Novak, Milan Fras, Boris Benko and Primož Hladnik. Benko and Hladnik are members of the group Silence, and collaborators on the Volk album.

Current (Volk lineup)

* Milan Fras - vocals
* Ivan Novak - lights and projection
* Mina Špiler or Boris Benko or Jadranka Juras - vocals, synthesizer
* Janez Gabrič - drums
* Luka Jamnik - synthesizer
* Primož Hladnik - (member of Slovenian group Silence) synthesizer
* Eva Breznikar - (member of Slovenian group Make Up 2) vocals, percussion
* Nataša Regovec - (former member of Slovenian pop group Make Up 2) vocals, percussion
* Damjan Bizilj - synthesizer

Current (KunstDerFuge lineup)

* Luka Jamnik - electronics
* Iztok Turk - electronics
* Janez Gabrič - drums
* Primož Hladnik - electronics
* Ivan Novak - electronics and voice


* Tomaž Hostnik - singer (deceased)
* Dejan Knez - (founder and forming member) keyboards, electronics, drums (left the band after album WAT)
* Ervin Markošek - drums, keyboards, electronics (left the band in 1989, returned for the next album Kapital, appears on press photos until WAT)
* Roman Dečman - drums
* Nikola Sekulović - bass
* Matej Mršnik - guitars
* Dragoslav Draža Radojković - drums
* Srečko Bajda (founder and forming member)
* Dare Hocevar - bass
* Borut Kržišnik - guitar
* Oto Rimele - guitar
* Andrej Lupinc (founder and forming member)
* Mina Špiler - vocals
* Anja Rupel - vocals
* Bine Zerko (founder and forming member)

Appearances in Popular Culture

* In 2002, Laibach Appears for the first time in popular media in the movie Spider-Man, with the song "Panorama" [cite web|url=|title= Soundtracks forSpider-Man (2002)|accessdate = 2008-01-14] . This song was first released on their 1985 self-titled debut album.

* In 2006, a fictional character modeled after Milan Fras, appears in the Kingdom Come hardcover "Absolute Edition" graphic novel. In it, he appears dressed in Laibach-style uniform and displays the groups's cross tattooed on his chest. He is described as follows: "German-speaking superhuman and would-be dictator is the example of the Hitleresque villain that had so much symbolic importance in the Golden Age of superheroes. The blocky cross on his chest is evocative of the kind of bold symbols used by Fascists. Von Bach has the words `liebe' (love) and `hass' (hate) tattooed on his arms and, in fact, his entire body has been covered with one large tattoo of that dark color that most tattoos become, with his natural flesh color only coming through in the designs on his body" [cite web|url=|title= LAIBACH AMONG SUPERHEROES|accessdate = 2008-01-14] .


7" Singles

*"Life Is Life/Germania" (Mute Rec., 1987, London)
*"Sympathy For The Devil/Sympathy For The Devil (two different versions)" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Across The Universe/Maggie Mae" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)

12" Singles

*"Boji/Sila/Brat Moj" (L.A.Y.L.A.H. (in association with Les Disques Du Crepuscule), 1984, Bruxells)
*"Panorama/Decree" (East-West Trading Comp. (Cherry Red), 1984, London)
*"Die Liebe/Groesste Kraft" (Cherry Red, 1985)
*"Geburt Einer Nation/Leben Heisst Leben (ins.)" (Mute Rec., 1987, London)
*"Life Is Life/Germania/Life" (Mute Rec., 1987, London)
*"Sympathy For The Devil 1/Laibach, 300.000 V.K." (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Sympathy For The Devil 2/Germania, 300.000 V.K." (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Sympathy For The Devil/Sympathy For The Devil (picture disc with two versions)" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Across The Universe/Maggie Mae/Get Back" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"3. Oktober/Geburt Einer Nation (live)" ((German only 12" single)Mute Rec./Intercord Gmbh, 1990, London/Stuttgart)
*"Wirtschaft Ist Tot/Wirtschaft Ist Tot" (Mute Rec., 1992, London)
*"Wirtschaft Ist Tot/Sympathy For The Devil" ((remixes, for promotion only) Mute Rec., 1992, London)
*"Final Countdown/Final Countdown" (Mute Rec., 1994, London)
*"In The Army Now/War" (Mute Rec., 1995, London)
*"God Is God" (Mute Rec, 1996, London)
*"Tanz Mit Laibach" (Mute Rec., 2004, London)
*"Das Spiel Ist Aus" (Mute Rec., 2004, London)
*"Anglia (album)" (Mute Rec., 2006, London)

CD Singles

*"Sympathy For The Devil/Sympathy For The Devil/Sympathy For The Devil" ((picture cd with three versions) Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Across The Universe/Maggie Mae/Get Back" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Panorama/Die Liebe/Decree/Groesste Kraft" (Cherry Red, 1989, London)
*"3. Oktober/Geburt Einer Nation (live)" ((German only cd)Mute Rec./Intercord Gmbh, 1990, London/Stuttgart)
*"Wirtschaft Ist Tot/Wirtschaft Ist Tot" (Mute Rec., 1992, London)
*"Final Countdown/Final Countdown" (Mute Rec., 1994, London)
*"In The Army Now/War" (Mute Rec., 1995, London)
*"Jesus Christ Superstar / God Is God" (Mute Rec., 1996, London)
*"Tanz Mit Laibach" (Mute Rec., 2004, London)
*"Das Spiel Ist Aus" (Mute Rec., 2004, London)
*"Anglia (album)" (Mute Rec., 2006, London)


Vinyl releases

*"Laibach" (Ropot, 1985, Ljubljana)
*"Rekapitulacija 1980-1984" ((double LP box set with booklet and poster) Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien, 1985, Hamburg)
*"Neu Konservatiw (live)" (Semi Legal, 1985, Hamburg)
*"Nova Akropola" (Cherry Red, 1985 (1987), London)
*"The Occupied Europe Tour 83-85 (live)" (Side Effects Rec., 1986 (1990), London)
*"Opus Dei" (Mute Rec., 1987, London)
*"Slovenska Akropola" (Ropot, 1987, Ljubljana)
*"Krst Pod Triglavom - Baptism/Klangniederschrift Einer Taufe" ((2x LP box)Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien, 1987, Hamburg (Sub Rosa, 1988, Bruxells))
*"Let It Be" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Macbeth" (Mute Rec., 1990, London)
*"Sympathy For The Devil" (Mute Rec., 1990, London)
*"Kapital" (Mute Rec., 1992, London)
*"NATO" (Mute Lec., 1994, London)
*"Jesus Christ Superstars" (Mute Rec., 1996, London)
*"WAT" (Mute Rec., 2003, London)

CD releases

*"Opus Dei" (Mute Rec., 1987, London)
*"Rekapitulacija 1980-1984" ((double CD box set with booklet and poster)Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien, 1987, Hamburg)
*"Let It Be" (Mute Rec., 1988, London)
*"Nova Akropola" (Cherry Red, 1988, London)
*"Macbeth" (Mute Rec., 1990, London)
*"Sympathy For The Devil" (Mute Rec., 1990, London)
*"Kapital" (Mute Rec., 1992, London)
*"Ljubljana - Zagreb - Beograd" (The Grey Area/Mute Rec., 1993, London)
*"NATO" (Mute Rec., 1994, London)
*"Slovenska Akropola" (Ropot, 1995, Ljubljana)
*"Laibach" (Ropot, 1995, Ljubljana)
*"Occupied Europe Nato Tour 1994-95" (The Grey Area/Mute Rec., 1996, London)
*"Jesus Christ Superstars" (Mute Rec., 1996, London)
*"M.B. December 21, 1984" (The Grey Area/Mute Rec., 1997, London)
*"Rekapitulacija 1980-1984" ((redesigned and remastered)NSK Recordings, 2002, Ljubljana)
*"Neu Konservatiw (live)" ((digitally remastered CD release with booklet)Cold Spring, 2003, Northants)
*"Laibach" (NSK Recordings, 1999, Ljubljana)
*"The John Peel Sessions" (Strange Fruit, 2002, London)
*"WAT" (Mute Rec., 2003, London)
*"Anthems" ((double CD release with booklet) Mute Rec., 2004, London)
*"Volk" (Mute Rec., 2006, London)
*"Volk Tour London CC Club" (Live Here Now, 2007).
*"Laibachkunstderfuge" (MP3 - Mute Rec., 5. 5. 2008, London/CD - Dallas Rec., 2008, Ljubljana - CD-version only available in Slovenia)

Cassette only releases

*"Laibach/Last Few Days" (Skuc, 1983, Ljubljana)
*"Documents Of Opression" ((live from N.L. Centrum, Amsterdam) Staal Tape, 1984, Amsterdam)
*"Vstajenje v Berlinu" ((live in Berlin 1984) Skuc, 1984, Ljubljana)
*"Life In Hell" ((live from Hell, Hertogenbosch, 1985) V2, 1985, Hertogenbosch)
*"Ein Schauspieler" ((live from the N.L. Centrum Amsterdam Church, 1985) Staal Tape, 1985, Amsterdam)
*"Divergences/Divisions" ((live in Bordeaux, 1986) Le Reseau, 1986, Bordeaux/Toulouse)

ide projects

* 300.000 V.K., Dejan Knez avant-garde electronic music side project
* Germania, side project, Laibach, Iztok Turk and Anja Rupel
* Kraftbach
* 600.000 V.K., responsible for the music for the Noordung theatre productions
* Sturm und Klang
* Baron Carl Von Reichenbach, Dejan Knez avant-garde electronic music side project


* Richard Wolfson, [ "Warriors of weirdness"] , "The Daily Telegraph", 4 September 2003.
*cite book |first=Inke|last=Arns | title=Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) - eine Analyse ihrer kuenstlerischen Strategien im Kontext der 1980er Jahre in Jugoslawien | year=2002 | publisher=Museum Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg | id=ISBN 961-90851-1-6 (Irwin)
*cite book |first=Inke|last=Arns (ed.) | title=Irwin: Retroprincip 1983-2003 | year=2003 | publisher=Frankfurt/Main: Revolver - Archiv fuer aktuelle Kunst | id=ISBN 3-936919-56-9 (engl.)
* Alexei Monroe, [ "Interrogation Machine - Laibach and NSK"] , "MIT Press", Sep 2005. Foreword by "Slavoj Žižek".

External links

* [ Official Site]
* [ The NSKSTATE] - The official website of the NSK.
* [ The Unofficial Laibach Site]
* [ Official video for "Slovania"] (from "Volk")
* [ Interview @ Legends]
* [ "Laibachkunst"] includes images of early visual artworks by Laibach and also pieces by fellow NSK members Irwin.
* [ Laibach] at Discogs
* - a documentary shot during the U.S. leg of the WAT tour
* [ Laibach video report] : on

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