If you’ve got a bit of a fetish for goalkeepers, and were hoping to see some quality displays between the sticks, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you sincerely, on the behalf of the entire combined populations of England and Algeria. Seriously. Might I suggest you become a Nigeria supporter?
I guess with Slovenia currently sitting pretty ahead of both England and USA after Robert Koren’s tame, gentle pass somehow got shovelled into the goal by Farouzi ‘Robert Green in disguise’ Chaouchi, now’s the time to celebrate them.
There’s simply nowhere to start talking about Slovenian music other than Laibach – Slovenia’s most admired musical export by light years, and probably the only musical act from the country that most of the readers will have heard of. Named for the name the Nazis used for their hometown, the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, the band have toyed with Nazi imagery for their entire careers, both adapting the insignia into their own imagery and working extensively with anti-defamation artists and charities. Their most notorious musical moments in English speaking territories are covers – most notably Queen’s “One Vision”, which is sung in German and re-named “Geburt Einer Nation” (The Birth of a Nation, nodding to the famously controversial pro-KKK silent movie by D.W. Griffiths). They’ve been a consistently controversial group themselves, although it hasn’t stopped them from becoming a strong influence on much of the industrial and martial industrial music made since (Rammstein and Rome particularly), and in defending themselves they managed to come up with one of the greatest quotes by a rock band ever – ‘we’re fascists as much as Hitler was a painter’ (zing!). Here’s one of their other covers – an anti-capitalist reading of Edwin Starr’s “War”.
After Laibach, there is a pretty sizeable drop-off in fame, but they blazed a trail of experimental, sardonic rock music that plenty of other Slovenian bands are now inhabiting, and plenty of them are worth looking into. My personal favourites here are Devil Doll (not to be confused with the American retro rockabilly singer so beloved by burlesquers), a proggy, gothic mess of a band from whom 20 minutes is a short song, and playing in one genre is way too boring. Like Laibach, they have proven to be masters of self promotion – Devil Doll’s vocally dextrous frontman, Mr. Doctor, has remained anonymous since the band’s inception during the ’80s, and has cultivated an enigma around his image and his identity comparable to The Residents. This video is part of the 66 minute epic The Girl Who Was Death, their real first album – if you want to know about the album they allegedly recorded before this, just think of All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling and know GY!BE weren’t the first band to pretend.
So what does Slovenia have outside rock? Ljubljana has a conservatoire that’s produced a few notable composers, but I’m in danger of bombarding this blog series with classical music, so I’m turning toward the thriving dance scene in Eastern Europe, and to the techno of DJ Umek. I’m loathe to praise Umek too much (there is a lot of awfully biased shit written about him on the net already), but he’s certainly had a long and storied career that has spanned almost the entire life of Slovenian techno, and has consistently enjoyed a cult status among technoheads outside of his homeland.