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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Laibach

By Phil Freeman
Published June 11, 2007

Volk
Mute

Laibach are an art project disguised as political satire disguised as a band. They started out in Yugoslavia, back when there still was a Yugoslavia, taking on their repressive leaders by pretending to be even more hardcore than the government. Over the years, they’ve become more international in scope, exposing the fascist overtones of rock-star mythmaking and reminding people of the bloodthirstiness at the heart of religion. On this latest disc, they tackle the idea of nationalism by recording an entire album of reworked anthems from EU countries (as well as China, Japan, the US and the Vatican, as well as the nonexistent nation of NSK which consists of Laibach and their artistic cohorts). The surprisingly violent lyrics sit atop melodies reminiscent of early ’80s synth-pop; Laibach’s usual thunderingly martial rhythms are replaced by a kind of melancholy nostalgia. While initially seeming like a quirky choice, Volk is in fact a logical move for Laibach, who have gone from critiquing particular political philosophies to interrogating the very concept of nations—without ever losing their extremely dark sense of humor.