Laibach The Sound Of Music Review For Northern Transmissions

Mute Records

7.5/10

Laibach

The Sound Of Music

Whoever said cover albums couldn’t work, has clearly never heard Laibach tackle a musical. For their take on “The Sound Of Music” Laibach offer a much more sinister and over-the-top feeling to the original music. Though it’s definitely for a specific audience, this is a wonderfully experimental record that only suffers from occasionally lacking self-awareness.

There’s such an overt sense of theatricality to Laibach’s music, that you really just have to dive in or find it all too much. As you hear the new ideas they bring to “The Sound Of Music” it’s like some new concept album that barely resembles the original film. In this way, Laibach are able to really make this their own and give a completely haunting feeling to the otherwise chipper songs. Outside of some of the growly interjections on this record, you can lean into the grooves of songs like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and lose yourself to the sci-fi-like keyboards. While their deep vocals can feel eccentric on their own material, on a musical cover it just becomes a little too much and hurts the song. Even “Do-Re-Mi” takes on a frankly frightening energy under the band, as they transform it into an ominous call of something evil.

It’s strange in this way how less overtly well-known tracks like “Edelweiss” and “Lonely Goatherd” actually thrive within the world of Laibach, as they are able to bring a new sharpness that may have kept these songs from such high status before. Loud claps and a kind of ethereal production ring out in both songs, seeing them take off as both child-like but also strangely mechanical in a way. “Favourite Things” is utterly terrifying however, as it drips with death and a light tone of violence.

“Sixteen Going On Seventeen” ends up as borderline creepy with all the unnerving tones and the groaning vocals delivered on the track. Though Laibach can make a new pop feeling from the track, it’s hard to tell if they’re mocking the lyrics or unable to totally capitalize on the irony it represents within the story it’s from. Though this may just be a kind of cultural disconnect that fits home crowds for Laibach, something about the main drive of “So Long, Farewell” feels a little too much like bland pop. While they do nail a strong bit of worry in the intro, the rest of the track shatters this idea pretty fast. Through the shifting phases of “Maria/Korea” however, the band gets a bit of Queens Of The Stone Age, and see their dark approach to the source material paying off greatly.

Though it really shouldn’t fit, the Korean “Arirang” feels like a track that the Von Trapp’s may actually have sung. In this way, Laibach keep things outlandish but tight in their world. While it’s disappointing to see them completely ditching this on “The Sound of Gayageum” there’s something wonderfully smile-inducing to seeing them basically include an audio tour-diary on the album. However cheeky it is to close the record on a reading everything that makes the band so controversial, it does make you question why they’re unaware of other overt cartoonish qualities they present.

Words by Owen Maxwell