Originally released a couple of years back as a single CD, Laibach‘s astonishing soundtrack to the cult crowd-funded Nazis-on-the-moon fantasy Iron Sky returns as a double album (available on vinyl too, in a luxurious gatefold package), extended, remixed and altogether managing the difficult feat of being yet more epic than before.The soundtrack is packed with the sort of low end orchestral rumble which cinema still does so well and headphone listening simply doesn’t; come to think of it, an(other) edition as a multi-channel super audio CD – or hell, an uncompressed blu-ray audio disc – would probably sound incredible. But ’til then, the vinyl and/or CD will do just fine, as Laibach bring the immensity of both militaristic and space travel soundtrack tropes up to their already fearful levels of sheer – and occasionally terrifying – Wagnerian pomposity.
This is never more apparent than when they quote “Ride of the Valkyries” directly on the “Space Battle Suite” and yet more Ring Cycle references appear throughout the “Moon Attack Suite” and “The Fall of Goetterdammerung.” It’s an apocalyptic and still utterly impressive use of instantly-recognisable motifs executed in a bravura choral/martial/symphonic style which eventually resolves into the industrial analogue buzz and delicately pastoral electronica of their rendition of “America” (as found on Laibach’s album of national anthems). That and some fine moments of spacey big band jazz (“A Good War Blues” in particular), even a sprinkling of music-box wedding march, some fluid lounge music (“Der Fuehrer’s Last Waltz”), thundering orchestral electronics (“Goetterdammerung muss fliegen” in particular), some decidedly Bond theme-inflected bombastic schmaltz (“Under the Iron Sky”) and a wealth of high modernist composition and interjections which together make this one of Laibach’s most varied records to date in terms of style and utter flair.A new and welcome addition is a German-language version of their classic “B-Maschina,” exclusive to this soundtrack. A fresh remix of “Hymn to the Black Sun” (dating back originally to 1992’s Kapital) in frenetic post-techno-dramatic style completes the album in a closing-title-friendly fashion – though in fact it wasn’t used there on the original film: that was “We Leave In Peace.” It’s interesting to note this track’s inclusion given the way that the very silly original of “Peace Lovin’ Brother Rap” (presented here in extended form) might have squeezed onto Kapital, just, but would actually have been totally out of place in the form in which is was presented last time round.
The predominant improvement in this mix (there isn’t any cut’n’paste dialogue-sampling attempt at rap for a start, perhaps thankfully; and “Hymn To The Black Sun” does a proper rap far better) is the removal of what transpired to be annoying lines from the sometimes rather breathless comedy the film turned out to be; in fact the elimination of the dialogue from this track and those others where it was previously allowed to remain is one of the main benefits of this edition. Soundtracks which include spoken material from the film never really seem to last well, but this revised and expanded take of the music (there is also a director’s cut adding 20 extra minutes to film itself due out soon) is one which makes the album – and hopefully the new cut of the film too – stand head and shoulders above its already impressive, if flawed, previous incarnation, and for that matter the vast majority of contemporary movie music in general.
The producers of Iron Sky are already working on a sequel (and maybe even a prequel) to what turned out to be a well-made and enjoyable if often over-broad – and occasionally even verging on slapstick – dark comedy. If Laibach once again take on soundtrack duties (and there’s no reason to assume they won’t) then there will be at very least the proposition of another great record to come from the latter.