Laibach - Reproduction Prohibited (An Introduction To… Laibach)

An experience that you won’t be able to resist sharing with everyone you meet.

Label: Mute

Rating: 7

For those yet to be familiar with Laibach, it’s not an introduction that can possibly happen ordinarily. Some of us are introduced by an A-Level politics teacher, first experiencing them live at the foot of a Serbian fortress… Whereas others will be introduced simply by a review such as this. Whatever way it happens, it will be in some measure terrifying and hilarious. Some will also find it tedious, offensive or just plain baffling; and for a few - thoroughly enjoyable. In the case of ‘An Introduction To… Laibach’ it will most likely be all of the above as you experience The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Europe in ways you could have, probably, never imagined.

Essentially this is a compilation consisting of absolutely no original material, which is perfectly normal for Laibach. As long as you don’t take it too seriously their reworkings of classic tracks, and their own material, can be pleasing experiences, if not necessarily pleasant ones. Their version of ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’ sounds as if Dylan wound up in the cast of an industrial-techno reworking of a Soviet propaganda musical. And yes, it’s just as great as it sounds. As long as you don’t take the ‘how dare they touch Dylan and The Beatles, man’ approach to it all, it’s pretty good, especially when taken with a heavy helping of salt.

‘Get Back’ on the other hand, is just plain hilarious. Who knows whether this was the plan or not, but it’s most definitely the result. Obviously, we’ve all spent years longing for industrialised Beatles tracks, haven’t we? But none of us really believed it would ever happen. These tracks have been around for a while now, but it’s nice to be able to have all the covers we dreamt of for so long in one place. Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ is also regurgitated. The final result of which is somehow not that surprising. What that says about the original is beyond me; but either way, if you can keep a straight face throughout, you have a heart of stone.

Surely the greatest achievement present on this collection of subtle, beautiful, innocent pop songs is ‘Anglia’. Alongside the well-known numbers, it doesn’t strike you at all when looking at the tracklisting. Obviously though, it’s Laibach’s very own version of ‘God Save The Queen’. Yes, it’s Laibach, doing the national anthem, industrially of course. What more could you ever want? The answer to that is, ‘Probably nothing, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.’ Of course it’s not that simple. This is no mere cover, more a twisting of the national anthem alongside lines such as ‘So you still pretend you are ruling the world.’ Ahh, not quite the homage to Britain’s spotless international image may have first assumed. Regardless, nothing else sums Laibach up quite as well, they being the band that released an album consisting entirely of songs based on national anthems.

‘Opus Dei’ is probably the most ‘accessible’ moment on the album, maybe. Even if it’s not, you’d be hard pressed not to fully embrace the sheer bombast of it. This is made even more brilliant by the fact that you also get ‘Leben Heisst Leben’, the German language version of the same song. Great!

There’s not really any point in giving ‘An Introduction To… Laibach’ a rating, as it’s hard to treat them like your bog standard mortal band. Regardless of how wonderful, awful or daunting it sounds in principle, Laibach command that you listen to it regardless. Even if you end up despising it more than anything else you’ve ever heard, you’ll still have had a special experience along the way; an experience that you won’t be able to resist sharing with everyone you meet.