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Laibach – Also Sprach Zarathustra

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Laibach – Also Sprach Zarathustra

OF COURSE THEY DID.

So Laibach made an album called Also Sprach Zarathustra. Which displays the kind of self-confidence, arrogance and sheer fucking balls for which Laibach are famous. Writing a piece of music with the same name as an already-existing and legendary piece of music is PROPER FUCKING TAKE NO PRISONERS shit, especially when that other piece of music is inextricably connected with one of the most-loved movies of all time.

But wait… there’s a REASON this is called Also Sprach Zarathustra. And that reason is that Laibach were asked to score a theatre production based on Friedrich Nietzsche‘s book of the same name. Because OF COURSE THEY WERE. Come on. You’re making a Nietzsche play, and you’re looking for someone to do the music. You’d miss a trick by not getting Laibach in. At the very least, no matter who you got, unless it was the reanimated corpse of Richard Strauss (and possibly even then), you’d just know that everyone in the audience was thinking “you know, they really should have got Laibach to do this”.

Laibach and Nietzsche. Nietzsche and Laibach. Grandiose. Epic. Poetic. Stirring. Unfortunately often co-opted by fascists. Come on, it’s a marriage made in Valhalla.

And yeah, it seems like a good match. Of course, the thing about soundtracks is they aren’t really the whole thing. The old truism that a good soundtrack should never be noticed may be bullshit, but a soundtrack is never really the totality, and Laibach are all about totality. There are AMAZING film soundtracks that don’t really work as something you’d want to listen to on their own, and that’s fine, because that’s not how they were designed. There are soundtracks you don’t remember, because they were so perfectly wedded to the visual experience they were accompanying that they are nothing without it, and that’s fine too. Try watching those visuals without them and see how that works out.

Basically, all of this is a very long-winded and over-wrought (I hope Nietzsche would be proud) way of saying I haven’t seen the play, and can only judge this on its merits as an album.

And its merits are many.

It… well, at the risk of writing myself out of a job, it sounds every bit as huge and awesome as you’d expect Laibach soundtracking Nietzsche to sound. Opening with the Wagnerian (yeah, there should totally be a Laibach drinking game where you neck a schnapps every time someone says “Wagnerian”) splendour of “Wor Sonnen-Untergang”‘s strings, we are taken through the horror-movie score of “Die Unschuld I” to the minimalist percussive techno of “Von Gipfel Zu Gipfel” to the synthy-heavy mood music of “Als Geist”, all the while with Milan Fras‘s trademark guttural declamations of THIS TIME ACTUALLY-NIETZSCHIAN lines. It’s kind of magnificent. And beautiful.

Being a soundtrack in the Wagnerian (drink) mould, of course, it tells a story in itself, and motifs and themes, or as us rock’n’rollers would say, “riffs”, reoccur. So of course we are returned to the Sun, with “Vor Sonnen-Aufgang”, wherein Mina Špiler reclaims the words “Hier komme die Sonne” from the (admittedly ace and suitably-Laibachian) Rammstein, in one of the loveliest and most transcendent paeans to our star since Wagner’s (SHOT!) awakening of Brunnhilde.

We end with a sonic crescendo. Because OF COURSE WE DO. There’s something about Laibach where they do shit nobody was expecting yet when they do it your first reaction is “OF COURSE THEY DID”. Covering “The Final Countdown”. Playing North Korea. Soundtracking a Nietzsche play.

And did they manage to make a great album while they were doing it?

OF COURSE THEY FUCKING DID.

They’re Laibach? What do you expect?

-Justin Farrington-

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