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2021-05-22

LAIBACH - We Forge The Future - Live At Reina Sofía

If there's one thing that doesn't seem much affected by the covid epidemic, then it has to be the steady flow of releases from Laibach.

After the brutish terror of "Bremenmarsch" and the colossal exploration and extension of the Slovene's early works forming the "Laibach Revisited" box, here comes yet another album indulging in Laibach's self-museumizating side, a live recording from November 2017.

In relation to two score years of existence that's quite recent, but the origins of this concert harken back to a much earlier specific event in the past. 



LAIBACH - We Forge The Future - Live At Reina Sofía (LP) (2021)


"We Forge The Future" was the title of Laibach's at the time highly controversial performance at the XII Music Biennale Zagreb on April 23rd 1983, where they infamously projected a super 8 porn loop over a socialist Yugoslavian propaganda film, which not only made Tito look not so good, but also caused the show to be stopped by police. In the wake of this scandal followed the four year ban of Laibach in Yugoslavia, which forced them to find audiences in the rest of Europe.

Now this and the rest is all Laibach history which has been cited and discussed time and again. In 2017 however it was re-enacted. Well, without the authorities and riots parts of course.
Instead the backdrop was an installment of the exhibition "NSK from Kapital to Capital, Neue Slowenische Kunst - An Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia". Opened by King Philip VI of Spain and the Slovenian president, the chances for any outrage were pretty thin this time.


The performance, song selection and interpretation is not the same, yet similar to the opening of the "Monumental Retro-Advantgarde" show at the Tate Modern and the "Underground" performance in a coal mining museum, both happening in 2012.

The Vier Personen on stage consist of Ivan Novak plus the keys/electronics and guitar players of the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" live line-up, set up in a kraftwerkian manner and occasionally joined by Milan Fras, not with his typical snarling low-end voice, yet more in the earlier industrial style, agitating through a megaphone.

While it features many familiar elements, the overall impression of this performance is unique. What especially strikes me is how perfect this recording balances a very cleanly distinct and powerful production with the still unwavering sense of a dark and chaotic collage of horrors.
The professionalism, bombast and feral intensity of "We Forge The Future - Live At Reina Sofía" leaves no doubt that Laibach are still untouchable masters at their game.

God Records, who released this album did a good job of providing an adequate pressing and fitting packaging with a gatefold that includes liner notes, and a 12" booklet which recreates frames of the visuals - including mentioned super 8 superimpositions, which make it only possible to show selected pages here.

This LP (also available on CD) is once again a fantastic release, everything done right. The industrial revolution is still going strong!




Three sidenotes:

1. In a way Laibach are admitting that the whole pornographic thing may have worked for great scandalous effect, but artistically wasn't much of an achievement. At least citing Ivo Josipović, president of Croatia (and musician) in that way - "It's primally a matter of good taste." - suggests that.
But of course maybe they're just messing with us yet again...

2. While Laibach usually don't follow the popular music rulebook, the whole idea of historical re-enactment is a surprisingly conservative thing you see quite often in rock music. Iron Maiden basically builds every second tour around it.

3. As an accompanying purchase I chose "LAIBACH - 4 Decades", the Slovenian/English catalogue for the still ongoing exhibition in Trblovje. Not the longest read, but an interesting little collector's item.
Full disclosure: I just couldn't resist that mother of all band photographs ("Ich hab ein Rad, Du kannst es reiten wenn Du magst!") on the cover. So wholesome.











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