The outer limits: How prog are Laibach?
This Slovenian troupe are known for their intriguing covers of rock classics and were the first Western rock group to play in North Korea - but how prog are Laibach?
What do Pink Floyd, Gustav Holst, The Beatles, Serge Gainsbourg and Swedish hair metal types Europe have in common? The answer: Laibach. Since their inception in 1980, the Slovenian band’s vast body of work has included a selection of cover versions as disparate as they are unlikely, from a German language version of Queen’s One Vision to a deadpan take on Live Is Life, the naff 80s hit by Austrian pop quartet, Opus.
They’ve even devoted entire albums to the stuff. 1988’s Let It Be refashioned The Beatles’ last LP as a Wagnerian blowout, complete with choirs, martial rhythms and mad guitar solos. The following year’s Sympathy For The Devil deconstructed the old Stones’ classic in a variety of puzzling ways, while NATO (1994) was an international covers project based around the theme of war. Most intriguingly, from a philosophical standpoint, Laibach insist that they don’t treat these endeavours as covers at all, but rather revisions of history.
“We treat pop culture as historic material that can be reinterpreted the same way as classic theatre works by Shakespeare, Molière, Chekhov or Brecht usually are,” explains Laibach’s Ivo Saliger via email, the evasive group’s preferred method of communication. “Some of the pop songs are hiding within themselves a completely different content if they’re approached from a different point of view. And that’s what we most often do: we dig out the Hidden Reverse.”