Thursday, January 21, 2010

Videosex (No, It's Not What You Think)

I have long been enchanted by this cover of "Across the Universe." It is somehow -- inexplicably -- both heart-wrenchingly beautiful and David Lynch creepy. Likewise the video, which gives me goosebumps and makes me want to run away fast at the same time. It all makes me think of a cross between "O Superman," a church choir, and a meeting of the Hitler Youth.

The band (and tongue-in-cheek presentation) is certainly Laibach, but the singer (Anja Rupel) was in her own band: Videosex, '80s darlings of the former Yugoslavia.

"Videosex" is very weird to the contemporary, non-Yugoslavian listener. Their early new wave/post-punk music has aged poorly with its generic drum machine and vomit-inducing keyboard sax, but even then there was something INTERESTING about their work...a little twist, a little something added to make it stand out, even when they were working in a straight-forward pop genre.

Fortunately they didn't stay there for long. It's on their third album ("Svet Je Kopet Mlad") that they start performing a weird electro-cabaret-swing, as exemplified in this (fortunately translated) video for "Zemlja Pleše."

It's the final album -- "Ljubi In Sovraži" -- that's truly great. It's full of crazy beats and wild stylistic changes...from the quiet ambient booping of "Space Lab" to the over-the-top Foetus-like swing of "Snip Snap" (a cheerful English song about a boy whose thumbs get cut off because he sucks them). "Computer's First Christmas Card" is like nothing I've ever heard, a nonsense scat montage that you'd consider impossible until you actually hear it.

Fortunately the final album is available on iTunes, and so is their enormous "best of" compilation (at a very cheap price). The catch is that the sound quality ranges from "good" to "terrible." It's poorly mastered, has no mid range, and the bass sounds occasionally clip with an awful ripping sound.

The other sad thing is that I can find very little information about the band or their music. They obviously never made a dent in the English-speaking world, and their CD re-releases seem to have made fast-and-loose with the discography, transplanting songs from various eras as "bonus tracks."

Anyway, I'm happy to have found these little gems. If you're a fan of odd pop with a healthy tinge of complete insanity, check out "Ljubi In Sovraži" or -- since the "best of" collection contains most of those songs at the same price -- just get "Arhiv." "Across the Universe" is on there as well, though they've amusingly tried to remove the Laibach grunts at the end.

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