Slovenian avant-industrial outfit Laibach have spent three-and-a-half decades parodying authoritarianism’s sound and vision. In the words of Pitchfork’s Douglas Wolk, their music “is a perpetually jabbing finger aimed at the aesthetic fetishes of military power.”
It’s therefore curiously appropriate that they became the first western group to perform in North Korea. In August 2015, just over 35 years after their formation in what was then northwestern Yugoslavia, Laibach played a gig in the capital Pyongyang. In a further surrealist twist, they regaled the audience with their covers of The Final Countdown and Across the Universe, the traditional Korean Ariang and a suite of songs from The Sound of Music.
Interviewed in Rolling Stone, the collective’s long-standing projectionist Ivo Saliger commented on the “respect, kindness and generosity” of the city’s civilians. He claimed the band even considered settling there, remarking that “The country may be poor and isolated, with a heavily oppressive political system, but the people are fantastic and they seem to possess the precious wisdom that we don't.”