Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: Teodor Lorenčić – Laibach: Forty Years of Eternity

Publisher: Službeni glasnik

Year: 2021

“Laibach practices provocation of the revolted state of the alienated consciousness and unites warriors and opponents in tone expression of static totalitarian scream. It acts as a creative illusion of strict institutionalism ad a social theatre of popular culture and communicates only through non-communication”. (“Forty Years of Eternity, Teodor Lorenčić, page 44)

Laibach is soon forbidden and exiled… In free Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia… I believe there is no person in Europe that didn’t hear about Yugoslavia. Big socialistic empire that consisted of six republics, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro. Mister President was Tito, well-known, small old man who had that much power that gave him “right” to make a cult of himself. My parents are older so they remember those big celebrations on “Day of youth”, on Tito’s birthday and the “Republic day”. Behind that perfect system and romanticized reality there was an iron hand of Josip Broz Tito’s regime that made a man burst into flames.

Other side of that system was Tito’s police, secret state security, concentration camps for enemies of the party and really big depths that we return to even today. A group of young men and one lady, in Trbovlje, Slovenia, formed an orchestra based on a concept, called Laibach and like Tito they made a cult or so called “Laibach kunst”. In the book called “Forty Years of Eternity” former member of Laibach, Mister Teodor Lorenčić writes a photo-monograph to explain what was the idea behind this forbidden band in the free and open perfect Yugoslavia. Perfect? Free? Yeah, right!

The story begins in a place called Trbovlje on June 1st, in Slovenia, one of the most beautiful countries of Europe, which was part of Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. As every regime, so the cult of Laibach has its birthday. A revolutionary date that reveals dark totalitarianism of Mister Tito’s leadership just a little bit. Mister Lorenčić who now lives and creates in Belgrade decided, after last Laibach concert in Serbia in 2019 to write this book and to open the door to the history of the most dangerous band on Earth in those times.

The book is written in concept of photo-monograph of one very important tour of Laibach called “Occupied Europe 83”. In the period of 1983-84 Laibach presented their idea in not so liberal Europe. Their experiences with West and East Berlin or Budapest or Warsaw gives a specific historic picture of that time. Mister Lorenčić made a perfect chronological monograph that gave us some inside information about Laibach. Photos from his private albums are stories for themselves, because without them this book wouldn’t be complete. Some were taken spontaneously, some were on purpose. As we know, Mister Lorenčić’s virtuosity as a student of London’s art academy, his work with a camera even as non-professional here was actually perfect.

Years of 1980s in America were presented as a glitter shining time, birth of metal, glam and fashion but in Europe the situation was a bit different. Laibach wanted to be liberated and their glory raised after their forbidden name and concert in Zagreb (capital of Croatia). When I was younger I heard in my house many stories and concerts of Laibach but I didn’t get their idea and meaning. Men in soldier’s uniforms, some weird too deep voice and some…. music. It sounded too rough and not very understandable. Their sign was a big black cross but just to make it clear it’s not Malevich’s cross. Laibach was honestly against everything popular. Actually their name is based in negation of everything around them. Some would call them punks, some enemies but they were just rebels.

After this book and documentary movie my opinion about Laibach changed, but that didn’t happen in Yugoslavia in that time. Laibach didn’t consider themselves a musical band and they were not promoted as one. Their appearance was shock music. It was chaotic but their concerts were perfectly made in a form of artistic concepts.

To look like obeyed soldiers and by making their manifest of ten facts they wanted to “occupy” and open the eyes of young communists. Doing this and causing fear they wanted to make a picture of Tito’s way of ruling the state but not just his. Every single dictator’s on Earth. Their idea is that every system has a weak point so they found Tito’s one. Of course, many communists, including communist police, considered them fascists but the story was actually dedicated to waking up the people from a perfect socialistic dream.

Of course, to understand them, just a book isn’t enough, but also their music and their conceptualist theatrics. Laibach story is not just dedicated to provocation of Yugoslavia but everything bad that modern society gives us. Actual horrible things as consumerism, totalitarianism and hidden nationalism. Their brutality was somehow looking in the future because they really had a view of the fall of Berlin wall or war in doomed Yugoslavia. I think everybody who thought those gentlemen and a lady were crazy enemies of regime owe an apology to Laibach and its idea. Many republics are dead, many regimes fell, dictators are dead but “Laibach kunst” still lives. As Mister Lorenčić said in the manifest: “God has one face, devil infinitely many. Laibach is the return of action on behalf of the idea”.  So, Laibach really belongs to eternity even beyond forty years.