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Most overlooked albums #1


Laibach:: Nova Akropola (1986, Cherry Red)

Sometimes, a band can be their own worst enemy. No one is a better example of this than Laibach. Yes, they’re a joke now. Yes, they’ve made an international name for themselves doing soulless covers of equally soulless pop music. Yes, it’s been twenty years since they were really on their game. But let me say a few words in their defense (and I have been inclined to defend them since I saw them live in 1998 and they butchered a couple of their own classics):

- the origins of their fixation with cover songs came from a desire to point out the possibility of latent totalitarian messages that was both amusing and thought-provoking, so it wasn’t always so vapid.
- Their attempts to link their music with the (questionably) larger New Slovenian Art (NSK) movement represented a brave attempt to reattach music to its artistic roots that was both intriguing and brave.
- Nova Akropola is a masterpiece.

There are a lot of fans of the Cold Meat Industry label out there- in the past, I counted myself among them. Take note: The music that you love does not exist without Nova Akropola. Same thing for fans of Der Blutharsch, who borrow shamelessly from Laibach’s aesthetic. The idea of combining classical instrumentation, military rhythms and heavy industrial electronics comes from Laibach and nobody else. When you first started to hear of these bands, you heard them all referenced to Laibach, simply because there were no other reference points.

Before they were a gag band, Laibach were infamous for their image as much as their sound. They hailed from a little-known corner of eastern Europe and employed pseudo-totalitarian imagery before the new wave of European traditionalist wannabes made it cool. (Their use of highly ambiguous political graphics, in fact, predates similar tactics from bands like Non and Death in June, who are more direct antecedents to today’s disaffected “we’ll do anything to piss off our parents” crop.) The fact is, Laibach always kept a crucial distance from their audience and that distance made the band that much more intriguing. Those that mindlessly ape the striking imagery of Laibach in this period seem to miss the power in the music that stepped beyond image.

A dozen years ago, Nova Akropola never would have shown up on this list, because people still saw fit to mention Laibach as an influence. As the band slid, people stopped mentioning their name, because no one wants their audience to think that their influences include an over-the-hill troupe popularly regarded as a joke. This is what I mean about the band being their own worst enemy.

Unlike most of the other releases on this list, Nova Akropola remains pretty widely available. Seek it out and appreciate what this band was like in their splendour. Their imitators still have a long way in order to make something as stirring and beautiful as this album. Almost as long a way as Laibach themselves.

Comments

Ludovic T. said…
Hello Flora,

more than right wit you about this album and Laibach in general. Did you see them recently during their north american tour ?

Ludo

http://mechanicaltodigital.blogspot.com/
flora_mundi said…
i haven't seen them in a number of years. when i did (in montreal) i was a little disappointed that they didn't perform more older material, although i understand with the shift in sound over the years why that might have been difficult.

somewhere, there's a live recording of them performing in a church that was released only on cassette. that's the show (i don't think there was even an audience present, but anyway...) i would really love to have seen...

as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: hot stuff, comin' through

i don't even know what to say about the weather. the end of september saw temperatures at a scalding 36c/ 97f outside. this is especially annoying because we've had a moderate summer. most days it rained a little in the morning, the temperatures didn't creep into the 30s too often and there wasn't the normal stretch of a few weeks when it felt like we were living on the sun. now, we've receded into more normal fall weather, although it's still on the warm side for mid-october. that climate change thing is a bitch.

trying to think of something positive in the situation, it does put me in a perfect frame of mind to write about urban decay's naked heat palette. it's the latest in what appears to be an endless series of warm neutral and red eyeshadow palettes that have followed in the footsteps of anastasia's modern renaissance. [which i ultimately decided i didn't need after doing a thorough search of my considerable stash.] i do think that it'…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…