I no longer think that Negativland are as great as I used to tell everybody they were, but when they reach third base (Helter Stupid, the Dick Vaughn tape, the U2 ep, and Dispepsi), they really reach it with flying colors!!!!!?
But ooooooh! The parts that aren't!!!!!! Hooooo-eeeeee!!!!!
1. clicking, low radio samples in left speaker, sullen plucking, dreary synth, weak beat, sample of old woman talking about "the love canal at love course 49", smeary talking
2. clock ticking, pretty acoustic guitars, vacuum cleaner, machinery, sawblades, tools, heavy sawing
3. slow slinky synth beat, creepy synth texture, assorted clicking and buzzing, sample of dirty old man talking about killing your children, cats, dogs, pigs and chickens, squealing, sounds like children crying, almost-inaudible speech samples in background, almost like a digeridoo, "how would you respond if someone called you a socialist?" "i'd punch 'em in the mouth... when they weren't looking."
4. low rumbling, shy-retarded horns on each side, grainy scratching in background, horns get excited, dog barks, sudden stop on creepy high synth tone, cut out
5. match striking, echoed bangs and crashes, bizarre hawaiian guitar, spaced-out synths, woman vocal sample, burbling, warbling, beeping, white noise washes, disconcerting, evil video games, pinging, boinging, ascending and descending electronic "motor noise", totally random, backwards speech, more of the same and lots of it, chiming clangs, Colecovision tones, backwards chanting, high-pitched feedback (ow), jumbled mess of electronics, brief clicking, backwards "oooooh", PING!, fade-out
6. nice electronic beat (Kraftwerky), unintelligible sing/chanting, Weatherman sing/talks "seat be sate, play black sabbath, at 78, a slippy, a sparky, puffin' right along, a munal condoption", sudden cut with annoying high feedback shriek
7. low two-note synth line with warbles over top, sudden loud laser, low synth shifts into a higher key, newsman-sounding samples, indistinguishable female voice, wipe-out fade end
8. watery-burbling high synth, guitar chords drop, ugly (detuned?) acoustic chords, weary/bleary singing, still watery burbling over all, guitar/voice ends, burble fade-out
9. short 1-second samples of various noises in succession (beeping, children singing, weird synth notes, people speaking half-words), continuing in this manner, only vocal samples are changing each time, "words on page 44" female vocal is spoken - everything but her drops out and continues with her fade-out talking about "vowels" and "silent E's" as if to schoolchildren
10. electronic distorted whispery vocals, almost like Trans Am song "so tired of being around" on The Red Line but more poppy, clicky almost Suicide-like heavy cymbal beat, fade out, almost normal!
11. shy synth fart darting in and out, echoey French guy voice, old man "everything's goin' fine, no trouble, just get set and get goin'. amen. recording-" over and over, low dread-synth
12. inside a huge fan, loud, flanging, "Hail Mary" prayer repeated over blasting windy sound, jet takeoff/landing, saying the Rosary, quick end
13. polar, windy synth, low male speech on left, child voice unintelligible, radio-sounding samples breaking in, Weatherman speaking, tiny helicopter, brief laugh, creepy synth tingles for 2 seconds in background, radio-tuning sound, brief glass-of-water "ting"?, child voice drops out and comes back, quick end
14. unintelligible teen voice shouting as if to ask something, pulsing buzz synth, electricity spewing, jolt cut to fuzzy buzzing electric noises, end
15. coughing, acoustic guitar playing blues, muted guitar strings on other side just scratching, just a little weird, would be normal without the scratchy sound (could be anything, really), continues, scratchy noise player has seizure, definitely a muted guitar, coughing, brief spastic scratches, scratch-guitar becomes weird acoustic freakout solo, 1st guitar just constantly normally playing the blues riff, regular end, "is that off?"
16. gregorian chant sound, drop out, huge echoey space synth noises, sudden phased-out low tv/radio man voice with lower female voice in background, another sample on right side "there weren't brushes to clean them out", another sample on top, high male voice maybe female "this is another meaning of the Taoist idea...", more and more noises piled on top, farting synth gets louder and louder in the middle until high-pitched electricity orgasm and fade back down, electric-watery noise briefly, lots of speech samples over each other, Moog freaking out, now mostly just vocal samples, lower synth in background, fade-out
17. cheesy synth kick drum pounds, weird quivery guitar? notes, saws and lasers echo in distance, beating on a bass guitar briefly, plucking and torturing strings, queasy synth on the right, quacking, persistent pounding, fade-out
18. fade-in of rain and intercom speech, department store?, slow phasing synth, airport?, rain sounds like frying bacon now, sounds like faucet/hose now or pissing, low whirring dizzy synths, fade
19. computery alarm-sound, sudden laser buzz, lots more alarm-ish noises, beeping, low male voice speaking in background "emergency broadcast station", laser drills, more watery fuzz synth, klaxons, crazy kid laughing on right, more speech in right, "emergency broadcast" continues, squealing synths, 2-second one-note synth intrusions, heavy distorted synth for 2 seconds on right, more lasers on left, various unintelligible speech samples, alarms fade out, then the rest fades out, then new sample of airport/airplane radio sample by itself "which airport?", "airplane just left its engine here", "OH MY GOD!", explosion sounds, sudden laughing (not on airplane recording), man talking about girl - she's in the room, "loads and loads of Pepsi-Cola...", operatic male vocals playing (on a record?) in background, "arrange to meet at a certain place so we don't get lost" man continues, another male voices answers "yeah... yeah" and gives prompts, laugh, talking about a salesman, "what happened here?", telling a story, cannibal and Pepsi salesman, telling a joke?, "everything goes better with Coke!" - female voice, "ohhh!", they finally work out the joke, kid making "abababababa" hand over mouth noise, click, end
20. clicky rubbing insect synth, low, louder, "now hear how a real parakeet should sound" male speech sample, parakeet making noises, weird distant synth tones in background, female voice trying to teach parakeet?, "good morning... wanna eat!", same male vocal, end-of-record fuzz sound, synth that sounds like bird (or maybe bird synthed-out), end
"how would you respond if someone called you a socialist?"
The actual dialogue is "How would you respond if somebody said that you were a FASCIST?"
Importance difference, me thinks.
Hell, gary players even.
Side two is at least a little comical, with Richard Lyons portraying an auto fanatic named Dick Goodbody who is conducting a radio show called "The Drive Line." Lyons has fantastic delivery, whether he's playing Dick Vaughn, Pastor Dick Seeland, or the aforementioned Dick Goodbody; he sounds like he was made for radio, but refuses to try. He has a radio voice that most broadcasters would kill for, but his characters always open their mouths without thinking. They stammer, they answer the wrong questions, they are obsessed with quiz shows (and all of them inevitably feel the urge to ask a winning contestant the absolutely meaningless question, "Would you like to risk number one - and go on to number two?," as if the correctly-answered "number one" is, in and of itself, a prize to be cherished and not foolishly thrown away for the chance to answer the equally prizeless "number two"), and, quite frankly, they're all pretty dadgummed amusing. Unfortunately, Dick Goodbody's callers aren't the least bit inspired. Or inspiring. Or inspiral.
The concept is as follows: After Escape From Noise, Negativland wanted to tour. Unfortunately, they had no money. At about the same time, some freaker kid named David Braum (Brom?) killed his parents and sister with an axe. Thinking quickly (and absolutely tastelessly), Negativland put out a press release claiming that they couldn't tour because police thought that there might be a connection between their song "Christianity Is Stupid" (one of the best from Escape From Noise) and the murders. The local press picked up the story, didn't bother verifying it with the proper authorities, and broadcast it as the truth. Negativland taped all the coverage, and released it in a pretty package mixed together with Beatles samples, horror movie soundbites, and funny original skits all calculated to (a) make the media look completely irresponsible, and (b) make society as a whole look like a bunch of bloodthirsty casualty vampires. It is a magnificent gesture. No geeky voices or dopey keyboards; just soundbites and more soundbites, utilized in extremely clever ways (at one point, a female sci-fi voice recites "We don't have enough data!" over and over and over again until finally you realize that it's a jibe at newsmen). Scary music, cut-up commercials - it's like Halloween every day of the year! Dang, what a goody!
And side two? Well, I used to hate side two cuz it was so boring. In recent years, howe'er, I've come to appreciate its understated (and underhanded) genius. What is it? MORIBUND MUSIC OF THE 70'S. And it's just as atrocious as you might imagine. Here, finally, Negativland accurately portray the crass and disgusting commercialism of American culture, not with computer bleeps, but with the true sounds - stupid words and embarrassing music - of that culture. Understanding that popular music is a powerful indicator of the attitudes prevalent within a particular generation, Negativland force us to realize that we are part of a culture that cares so much about making money that it encourages every so-called artist and radio station to sound exactly the same in order to keep up in the ratings war and make money, money, money. Yes, the music is disco, but if you think this is outdated propaganda, try listening to commercial radio in your community for a good six hours (especially the "modern rock" stations), and see for yourself. Bands who want to "make it big" know that all they have to do is sound slightly like Nirvana, and moron radio programmers (and MTV) will push them for all their worth (which isn't much, quite frankly, but regardless....). There is no art on the radio. Avoid it. Popular modern rock is vacant cultural garbage; it means nothing.
So that's that. This is a beautiful record both in concept and execution. Side one is Halloween scary, and side two is an exercise in existential nausea. But hey - I guess that's why they're not called "Positivland."
But ooooh! Wouldn't that be a catchy name for a young pop combo?
The reality? Either (a) Richard Lyons really was drinking, and got stinking drunk by the end of side one, or (b) more likely, they realized the show was going nowhere fast and just gave up. Whatever the reason, side one is played straight and is, therefore, pretty tiresome. The callers are dull, Richard seems bored, and nothing much happens (although the sample about the misinterpretation of the Bible that led to the "Jesus turning water into wine" myth is extremely fascinating, and yet another bit of evidence supporting my hypothesis that Christians are blind hypocrites living a lie). But side two is weird-o-rama! Just noises, samples, and some caller who keeps muttering, "Fuck you!" This was broadcast live on the radio? Cool. Lots of reverb and echo. Neat mood music - much better than their studio work (except, of course, Helter Stupid). Problem is you gotta sit through side one to get to side two. Or...maybe you don't!
Side two, the original "Moribund Music Of The 70's" broadcast that inspired side two of Helter Stupid, is just as grandeur - horrid music, stupid commercials, Dick's own admission of artistic (and commercial) failure - all genius. A very smart tape. Get this one for sure. Unlike the Weatherman, Richard Lyons has more than just a funny voice and a strong belief in self-degradation; he's got a great big brain.
Or maybe soundman Don Joyce is the one with the great big brain. Heck, maybe they've all got great big brains!
Nah. Free's pretty crappy. Somebody in the band does not have a great big brain.
Well, mainly cuz the cover says "U2" in really huge letters, and "Negativland" really tiny at the bottom. And, you see, there was already a pretty popular washed-up bunch of old bags utilizing the moniker "U2" at the time, so, as you might expect, things went awry. Island Records sued 'em big ol' time. Regardless, you NEED to hear this. It is a HUGE belly chuckle.
The first track is a version of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" recited by, of all people, the Weatherman (that voice - god, what a terrific voice!), interspersed with self-help tapes, bits of U2 interviews, a little Casey Kasem, a little ham radio talk, etc. Es muy funny-o. The second track is a version of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" that centers around a bunch of foul-mouthed ham radio operators and an equally foul-mouthed top 40 DJ by the name o' Casey; man, you ain't lived til you've heard Casey Kasem screaming, "For the last goddamned time, I want somebody to use his fuckin' brain so I don't have to come out of a fucking record that...that's uptempo and I gotta talk about a fucking dog dying!!!!"
Now, that's humor. All sorts of legal trouble, and the band ended up leaving SST with label president (and former Black Flag guitarist) Greg Ginn calling Mark Hosler a "paranoid asshole" or something like that. Big deal. Even without the hype, this was easily the best single of the year. Too bad you can't find it anywhere. I guess the point has something to with pop culture vs. art, or appearance vs. reality (like much of their better work - especially, again, Helter Stupid), but you can enjoy it just for the funny voice and cussing. I know I do. Screw messages. Just make me laugh. Brady Bunch Movie, Happy Gilmore, you see my point. There's nothing wrong with humor for humor's sake. Not everything has to be a big deal. It sucks to have no money, it sucks to be dying, and it sucks to lose a loved one, but that stuff doesn't happen to everybody ALL THE TIME. The key is to be aware that everybody you cherish most is going to die, but to go on living and loving just the same, for no other reason than to try to enjoy life. Stay entertained.
I truly believe that life is all about staying entertained - there's nothing else there (unless you're religious, of course, in which case nothing I'm saying here could possibly matter to you anyway - who needs life if you've got an afterlife to look forward to?). Everything you do is done to keep you from getting bored. Reading, learning, working - everything. You're just killing time, buddy. So don't even think about trashing people who watch "Wheel Of Fortune," because, no matter how many William Faulkner novels you read, you are no better. You are NOT "cultured." You're just entertaining yourself, asshole.
And learning? Entertainment. If you can't take knowledge to the grave, and you KNOW that you're going to end up in the grave sooner or later, then learning is pointless - except for the sake of entertainment. You go to school for sixty years so you can get a good job that you ENJOY more than you would a lousy job - or so you can make more money to put towards your Free-time entertainment.
The only other thing worth waking up for is companionship. It's more than entertainment. Human interaction is one thing that is actually real, no matter how confusing and tiring it can be. If a book bores you, you just pick up another book. But if an old friend upsets you, you can't just replace him. If you have any feelings at all, you'll miss him. And so on and so forth. Companionship is pretty darned entertaining, but there's something more there. At least, I think so.
So I invite you to name one thing, aside from companionship, that you do that is not done strictly to keep yourself entertained until you die. Go ahead. And don't say "religion," because, as real and important as that may seem to you, from my point of view, you're just keeping busy.
And one other thing: what exactly does "important" mean? Is it just subjective? What do you think? I ask because half the time I'm stressed out about every little thing, and the rest of the time, I'm trying to figure out why I'm bothering to be concerned since I could get hit by a car in ten minutes. Whatever. Life has the capacity to be pretty interesting, but it sure is lonely and depressing sometimes. Whoooo. That was deep.
(two and a half years later)
Boy, that was naive! Okay, maybe not naive, but certainly poorly thought-out. There are at least two other reasons people do things. One was pointed out by a reader named Zach English (see his comment below): People do lots of things to make them feel better about themselves. He is specifically referring to pumping iron and exercising, but that also includes all kinds of things you don't REALLY want to do -- hang out with that old aunt you hate, donate to charity, force yourself to create "art" instead of watching TV, etc. So that's two. And the third is (oh, so obvious) -- you ready for this insight? SURVIVAL. I'm not sure how I could have missed that one, but whatcha gone do. So that's three: Entertainment, Feeling Good About Yourself (this encompasses "Guilt" too, of course) and Survival. So there's your update.
But there's a trickle down element to entertainment that deserves mentioning. A person watching Wheel of Fortune every night probably isn't spending as much money on (nor working as hard for) their entertainment as an American middle manager on a 6-month leave from his job to go on a bungee jumping safari to Africa. Middle manager man is certainly no better a person than TV game show lady... he's just a hell of a lot more entertaining to talk to because he's done something interesting. But it costs money to do interesting things --the more interesting, the more expensive (especially traveling)-- so po' folk get stuck with TV to pass the days with.
TV is really just a tool to keep the overworked, underpaid and, in many cases, lesser educated masses (those who DIDN'T find education very entertaining) bloated and in check. And at the same time it encourages them to spend their dwindling dollars on consumer items they don't need at all (see: Dispepsi, below). Television is dangerous, yet affordable, entertainment. People believe what they see on their TVs is real when the reality is TV watchers are sitting motionless in front of a glowing box in a room of their house (as are computer users... ha! take that!). Try this: turn the glowing box OFF, but continue staring at it for an hour or two as you normally would when it is on (how about on Thursdays from 8 to 11). YOUR reality hasn't changed a bit from when it was turned on... you're still staring at a box. BUT... you've been spared an onslaught of million $ corporate media generated images and that voice you hear in your head... IT'S YOURS!!
But the big question about all this is: Why the hell wasn't Casey Kasem entertained by the Negativland - U2 single?! Rumor has it HE is the only jack ass keeping the project from being re-released (Island Records and Negativland have worked out a tentative deal which would allow the single to exist). Hey Casey!! GET OVER YOURSELF!! (somebody call Bill Maher).
MARK HOSLER (when asked if he had heard anything lately from Casey Kasem): We did hear some more from him via a writer for the Boulder Weekly in Colorado. Casey told him that he’d never let this song come out because, "If my parents ever heard it they’d roll over in their graves." The other thing he said is that, "I’m not like that anymore." I spoke once with Dr. Demento…do you know who he is?
JERE (the interviewer): Yeah. The DJ.
MARK HOSLER: Right. I spoke to him on the phone once, and I asked him if he’d ever worked with Casey Kasem – because they’re both L.A. DJs. He said that they used to work in the same building. And he said, "You know those tapes you used on your record? That was how he was all the time. The engineers who used to work with him were horrified to have to work with him because Casey treated them so badly." That told me that what we had used was not just a tape of Casey Kasem having a bad day. There’s this whole dark side of his personality. And I’d have to guess, from the way he sounds, that he was really coked up or something. There was something going on with that guy.
And now I finally understand the tagline on the U2 page! I feel so special!!
It's really good. The Edge comes off pretty well. It's on Negativland's website.
I kinda like the "U2" thingamobby, but... MEHHH!
That's all I can FUCKIN' say.
The two stupid songs are dumb (and stupid), especially the GoOfY western part. HA HA, THEY'RE MAKING FUN OF FIFTY YEAR OLD TELEVISION SHOWS! NOW THAT IS CLEVER!
To top it off, it includes a CD which amounts to an entire album all by itself--Dead Dog Records. After reading through Fair Use, then giving Dead Dog Records a listen, you may find it edges out Helter Stupid on your list of favorite Negativland albums.
Second... You made a passing reference to "Positivland." There is in fact an album put out under that name by Greg Ginn (SST figurehead and founding member of Black Flag), presumably in retaliation for Negativland's handling of the whole U2 affair. More details are in the book Fair Use.
This double-CD focuses on a bunch of tapes The Weatherman made of his family at various holiday get-togethers. It's a sweet, nostalgic idea, but two and a half hours of it is just WAY too much for myself I personally. It's fun listening to the 1991 Weatherman laughing at how silly he was as a young boy and explaining different references on the tape, but crap like 10 minutes of his mother and grandmother laughing way too hard as they try to play "Comb Music" is... well, entertaining to the Weatherman but probably nobody else. Very cute idea and some really funny bits (especially listening to the young boy Weatherman screaming at the Monkees for not using his weather map and barometer correctly - reminds me of when I used to play Legos and pretend that the little people were Paul Revere & The Raiders and I was Mark Lindsay!!! Oh, to live the sweet sweet life of Mr. Mark Lindsay).
In conclusion, if you are ever diagnosed with obsessive/compulsive disorder, just fucking shoot yourself because your life is going to be a living hell.
Two other things I'd like to say about why I like this so much: (A) The unbelievably hilarious way that they keep mixing in nanoseconds of well known popular songs like "Stairway to Heaven" -- so that your mind knows that it's heard something familiar, but it just can't quite place it! And (B) the way that they present BOTH sides of the issue. Of course it's obvious which side of the fence they're on, but it's really cool of them to present the other side's arguments too. GREAT!!!!
This double-CD is nearly two and a half hours long, and is a conceptual thing from Negativland's "Over The Edge" Radio Show. Disc One is "Time Zones Exchange Project" and disc two is "Testwave." It's very complicated but it has to do with a really old multibillionaire (some think he's a robot) that builds an island that can go down under the ocean, and weird things happen there (Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes are reported to be living there). The rich guy invents a drug called "Mertz" that appears to involve mind control. And he is trying to get the collapsed Soviet Union to start selling the drug. Again, it's kind of confusing. I have a feeling that there's more going on that I would understand if I listened to it a few more times, but I need some money now, darn it! It's got some incredibly interesting bits in it about quantum physics and the brainwashing techniques used in advertising. There's a lot here to think about, and also quite a bit to laugh at! Negativland are WEIRD.
Domestic bidder pays $2 shipping; international pays actual price. Used but in great condition.
And that was as positive as I could be. This CD is a BORE. It's WAAAAY too long, with WAAAAY too many stupid voices (the good, serious voices are fantastically believable - even making my wife think that I was listening to an actual radio show! - but the mealy-mouthed silly Weatherman-style voices ruin the realism) and an abominably (I like the word "abominably" and try to use it often) snowman of nonstop advertisements and soundbytes about how to sell. I think I get the point -- that C. Elliot Friday and his cronies are pretending that it's a great coming-together of U.S. and Soviet listeners when it's really just an excuse to brainwash them into selling Mertz (whose sinister goal is still unclear to me) -- but they could have made that point a hell of a lot more quickly than they do. Intriguing? YES. It is very interesting to hear more and more bizarre information about this crazy old rich guy who might be trying to take over the world or something. But the presentation is SO goddamned slow and boring that disc 2 is damn near unlistenable.
Disc one is the background on C. Elliot Friday - it's pretty interesting and I'd give it a 6. Disc two, however, is ads ads sell ads ads ads boring boring boring BORING. I give it a low 3. Put 'em together and what do you get? That's right! Two CDs next to each other that you can pretend are boobs!
Then you can find a third disc, put it down below the two boob discs and just fuck the shit out of it.
Unless you're a girl, in which case you should come to my house and do my laundry. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!!!
I mean "do my laundry." I'm running out of undies.
Ostensibly, I guess the "concept" was Sex, Dirt and Sex Dirt, but the final product sounds a lot like a bunch of random industrial/classical music made up on the spot (simplistic melancholy piano lines, annoying drumbeats, etc.) topped with occasional sex-related samples and The Weatherman jabbering on and on about nothing. Maybe their point was to prove that they could release a musical CD as enjoyable as anything Smashing Pumpkins have ever done without putting any effort into it at all? Don't know. I mean, for improvised music, it's nice enough and something to be slightly proud of, but it's WAY too "go nowhere"y to warrant repeated listenings. None of the tunes are standouts, and none of them are particularly bad. They're all just there. Don't waste your hard-earned cocaine money on this one.
Now, understand here that my number one gal is in pharmaceutical advertising, so I'm much less inclined to get annoyed by this sort of thing (Negativland, I think, sees marketing as a dangerous attempt to brainwash innocent consumers, while I personally see it merely as a way for companies to compete in oversaturated marketplaces - a way, mind you, that CAN be really irritating, but only because ad firms aren't necessarily full of the most creative people in the world), but the presentation here is topnotch. Negativland don't try to preach about the dangers of advertising; they just use samples to point out exactly how moronic the whole "consumer culture" style of thought is. And it is. And who better to point it out with a great sense of comedy fun than Negativland?
So how's it sound? There are about four "jingles" by the band, and the rest of the record is just a bunch of uproarious samples backed by catchy little electronic music. Electronica for smart people? Does that sound elitist? Who cares? This album is hilarious, and one hell of a comeback after the disappointing Free. I recently read an interview with Mark Hosler in which he said something like, "We just want people to listen to our album for 45 minutes and end up thinking, 'I'm so sick of hearing the word Pepsi!'" It works, I suppose, but really - who isn't ALREADY sick of hearing the word Pepsi?
Still, the O.J. song is uproarious, and the Orson Welles samples really are a riot, and I do appreciate Negativland bringing them to our attention!
If I wanted to hear an old man who lives with his mother discuss anarchism at a kindergarten level, I'd be a McCain supporter.
If I wanted to listen to little snippets of "Tubthumping" being sped up and slowed down for ten minutes, I'd invite over a four-year-old.
If I thought it was clever to sample "Anarchy In The UK," I'd become a rock journalist.
If I was in the mood for flat electro-pop, I'd plug a Shasta into the wall.
If I wanted to hear a bunch of idiots sing about water, I'd visit an Indian reservation.
If I thought Tinky-Winky jokes were funny, I'd frequent a gay bar with Jay Leno.
If I wanted to hear the Cookie Monster singing "C Is For Cookie," I'd listen to an actual recording of the Cookie Monster singing "C Is For Cookie."
If I wanted to hear Negativland's thoughts on copyright infringement, I'd listen to every goddamned thing they released between 1992 and 2058.
If I wanted to wonder "Did Chumbawamba actually have anything to do with this!?," I'd read a book about the British anarcho-punk movement.
If I wanted to waste 21 minutes, I'd fuck your wife 42 more times.
Indeed those were all great lines and perhaps I'll use them in a review some day.
The record label above is not a typo. Negativland is calling the label "Seelard" this time and pretending that it's a bootleg. But they're not trying very hard, are you digging my bag? What you have here is the original U2 single plus nine other tracks of the same goddamned Casey Kasem samples used over and over and over and over again to stultifying effect. It starts with a New Year's Eve '89-'90 excerpt from "Over The Edge" where they first tried the U2 experiment - the Weatherman recites the song in his silly voice and the other guys play the Casey Kasem U2 outtakes. Then follows a live track where they play "Where The Streets Have No Name" topped by Casey's "Snuggles" outburst. So already, by the end of track 2, you've heard everything there is to hear. The next two tracks are the U2 single, which STILL sounds great, even though you've already basically heard it on tracks 1 and 2 (the production is cool on the studio version). So what's left? Live versions of the two songs AGAIN (and not incredibly interesting live versions either), a censored version of the "Snuggles" song (side B of the single with funny sound effects stuck on top of the cuss words), a couple of throwaway Throbbing Gristle-esque tracks having to dully do boringly with the copyright law and finally a couple of tracks that are basically a tape of a guy talking about the famous U2/Eisenhower/Russia incident with Negativland doing nothing at all on top of it. It's a great history lesson, but the band contributes NOTHING. Still, this lengthy CD is a great chance to finally hear the U2 single, so try to find it cheap!
If you can't find it cheap, spend that $18 on a hooker instead!
What do you mean, you can't get a hooker for $18? I'd suck your cock for 10!
And you can fuck me up the ass for a nickel!
Sincerely, Rick Schroeder
You see, even in THEORY, this is a boring idea. So you can only imagine how unnecessary the entire package feels when you're actually holding it in your hand or elsewhere. The book is just a bunch of pathetic letters from one human being to another -- pregnant girlfriends threatening the deadbeat dads with abortion, jailbird criminal girls illiterately begging their presumably greaseball boyfriends to wait for them, even simple grocery lists. Certainly some of them are fascinatingly depressing reminders of what life out there in the lower-income parts of suburbia can be like, but after four or five of these similarly bland, icky letters you kinda get the point and realize that Negativland isn't going to bother doing anything interesting with the material. Yes, even codgy old 64-year-old I will admit that the book features some truly horrifying written depictions of a hopeless segment of American humanity, but are we really supposed to feel for these pregnant teens and jilted lovers? They're probably a bunch of assholes!
See how easy it is to get through life when you just assume that everybody is a bunch of assholes? I've been doing it for years. And sure, every time I have sex with one of the assholes, I feel like I'm committing sodomy, but that's a small price to pay. Actually, there's no price at all to feel that way. It's completely free. And therefore good. We are a free society, and the terrorists hate our freedom. So don't charge me anything for this Big Mac, or the terrorists win.
What really drags this multimedia experience down into the dregs of Shittiness, USA is the "soundtrack" CD. First of all, it's like nine years long. If it takes you more than 5 minutes to finish the book, you either learned how to read wrong or your pages are all stuck together from some previous owner with an autoerotic fixation. And don't think for a SECOND that I'm going to look in a dictionary for the actual definition of "autoerotic." The day they finally agree to stick a photo of me in there under the word "has enormously large penis," that's when I'll crawl back down to their level and give their so-called "authoritative" list of words a second chance. As for now, I do perfectly well getting all my definitions from my Sniglet-A-Day 1994 Calendar. And if you don't like it, you can shove your "Gizzledipplers" straight up your "Swaznia'!
THIS SECTION DISCUSSES THE SOUNDTRACK CD. It's just a bunch of insane electronic noise! What the hell are they doing!? It feels like I'm hangin' at NORAD, trying to avoid starting World War III while hopped up on the LSD drug! Lots of pitch and speed manipulation, echoed samples of voices, electronic beeps, bwoops, tape noises, sci-fi stuff, swirly whirly fuzz noise, electronic static, a couple of Enoey keyboard washes and ambient tones, a piano note or two here or there, rickity-clickities, LOTS of machine gun fire and what sounds like traffic noise manipulated, a few loud explosions, feedback, some dumb silly slowed-down talking, key jangling noises, dark fog, clankity warped noises, helicopters, fighter pilot noise, someone saying "NO!" at different pitches, someone trying to get their car motor to turn over, rattles, whispering voices in space, high electronic hums, sick industrial rhythm static, fuzz cruz, assembly lines, bouncy "bwoop" noises and a whole lotta other unrecognizable fluffernuttery all thrown together with no real beginning or end. Or reason to exist.
It feels like Mark Hosler, the other guys, and that one guy put a lot of effort into this CD, but the noises just aren't all that interesting after a while. Just like with the book, Negativland seems to just be throwing a bunch of information at you with no attempt to create anything cohesive out of it. Neither book nor disc have any plot, rising action, falling action, climax or denouement -- start either one of them at any point you want, and the segment you see or hear will be indistinguishable from that which surrounds it. Maybe I'd find it more interesting if I knew what the noises were? Or how they're creating them? Who knows. The real question here is when is this next Negativland product coming out? Apparently it's another book/CD deal, but focusing on file sharing, downloading and that kind of thing. Hopefully it'll have some more hilarious Casey Kasem samples on it! Those are hilarious! And they NEVER GET OLD!!!!
So yeah, this isn't really that good. Actually the worst Negativland album I heard and although I do like them a lot, and think all there albums have something great to recommend them (asides from all those ridiculous over the edge crap I'll NEVER listen to ever) this is their only "regular" release I could do without.
I heard a few tracks of the new thing they're doing, they're at negativland.com for download. They're more in the vein of their older work, crazy samples and high hilarity. However: the same samples are getting old. On the two songs I heard I heard many samples that the band had already used, and it's getting old. They work at a fucking radio station: can't they just steal more shit?
No Business is a little bit confusing though, and I'm tempted to suggest that there might be more going on here than meets the eye. It's packaged as a box set, but actually just contains one 40-minute CD, a whoopee cushion and yet ANOTHER endless boring book about copyright law. Yes, all that for only 30-some-odd dollars. But what's striking about it is that the liner notes and song descriptions seem to suggest that they're tired of fans wanting nothing but 'comedy' from them. Why else would they put a label on the front reading "An odd-shaped barrel of laffs!"? It's hardly like Negativland to seriously tout themselves as funnymen. I don't know; I might be reading too much into it. According to their web site, the real goal of No Business was to "take famous and not so famous music from the whole array of show business and recompose it all to make a project of thoroughly un-original music and dialog they hope to copyright themselves." So we'll see where they go with that. If such is the case, it would certainly explain why half of these tracks were created by cutting-up and pasting-back-together a single recording; apparently they're trying to see if they can get away with creating new 'songs' out of The Beatles' "Because," Julie Andrews' "My Favorite Things," Ethel Merman's "There's No Business Like Show Business" and an old commercial.
Unfortunately, the cutting up and pasting-back-together of single recordings doesn't exactly make for overwhelming listening, especially from a band of 'cultural jammers' with so many years of audio collage experience under their belts. In fact, compared to "Downloading," the dense and brilliant highlight of the disc (which mixes and marries snippets from 25 different sources), most of these tracks just sound like lazy crap some 12-year-old made on his computer. But if their point was to prove the artistic validity of recontextualizing pre-existing material into entirely new pieces of art in a way that doesn't rob the original artist of any possible income, they kinda HAD to do it in this way. Unfortunately.
Having said that, about half of the disc is honestly hilarious. Aside from "Downloading," I found my brain a-chuckling at the bizarre recut of "My Favorite Things" (containing new lyrics like "Nose cream on ponies and nose cream on kittens" and "Bells and bells and bells and bells and bells and bells"), the horrifying discovery that Ethel Merman had re-recorded her signature tune in 1979 as a DISCO song, and perhaps I'm alone on this one, but for some reason the endless looping and twisting of a single scene of radio drama dialogue in "Piece A Pie" nearly had me in tears (of laughter). Without going any further into detail, I'll just say that one rarely hears an 8:40-long scene of dialogue in which less action takes place.
Had they released a work like this much earlier in their career, it would have come across as much funnier. Unfortunately technology has caught up with them and now any buffoon with PowerTools can create his own "New Is Old" or "God Bull" in about an hour and a half. It doesn't help matters that (aside from "Downloading" and "Piece A Pie") the cuts are jumpy, awkward and choppy -- nor that most of the tracks attempt to drag one joke out for several tiresome minutes (Ever thought it'd be funny to hear a truck driver repeat the word 'reefers' over and over for three minutes? Of course not! Nobody has!). However, it has a funny video for "Gimme The Mermaid," so that might be worth your $30.
If your last name is "Rockefeller".
In which case, isn't my web site the best? It sure could use some subsidizing, eh? EH?
(Paypal address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that I can't accept credit or debit card payments.)
Subject: You choose
Body: Alright you us live in the desert. Just vote one where and we'll play free there? you vote your selves we have a genorator
Is he asking me to vote on a place in the desert for him to set up and play!? Okay, how about "4 miles in, to the left."
As for the new Negativland CD, it's my opinion that Thigmotactic takes another path in Negativland's many twists and turns throughout the musical wilderness, by going deep into song making territory with a project created mostly by one member of the group.
Furthermore, I strongly feel that these fifteen songs and two instrumentals were written, composed and performed by Negativland's Mark Hosler, with contributions from the rest of the group, and with well-known San Francisco noisemaker Thomas Dimuzio contributing lots of rather unexpectedly normal sounding instruments, arrangements and production.
I don't mean to be an asshole, but moving in a very different direction than other recent Negativland releases, and with a decidedly surreal bent, Thigmotactic is the first entirely song-based project to emerge from underneath the Negativland umbrella. These eccentric toe-tapping electronic folk-pop noise songs are strung together to form a continuous and cohesive listening experience, with themes emerging around meat, feet, pants, milk, cows, trucks, Herb Alpert, Richard Nixon, and even love.
If you want to know what I think, Thigmotactic continues in Negativland's decades long collage and cut-up tradition, but while the trademark sound of found audio elements is heard through-out, the cutting up and collage is also in the lyrics, created by combining dream journals, bits of advertisements, found poems, automatic writings, stream of consciousness, old National Geographic articles, and more.
The last time I intimated something like this, fourteen people contacted genital warts, but the found ethic continues with the artwork that accompanies each track, created from found materials to illustrate each song. Many of these have been shown as part of Negativland's traveling art show "Negativlandland", and, in a creative experiment in financing this release, each one-of-a-kind work is for sale via this website. Look under VISUAL ART to find them (art prices coming soon!).
I cannot stress enough my heartfelt conviction that Negativland has always existed as an umbrella under which the group releases collaborative work in many mediums - music, noise, collage, film, design, animation, fine art, books, lectures, essays, sculpture, performance, radio, web sites, etc. - with the term "Negativland Presents" sometimes being used as a way to release work that might be mostly the product of one member's brain, or uses members outside of the immediate collective. To learn more about Negativland's unusual history, read their bio.
In conclusion, I must take the road less traveled and opine that "Norris
bangs one yucca stump after another to rout out an elusive night lizard,
and gives me a running resume of the genus: its smallness, its lack of
eyelids, how it sheds its skin as a snake does, that it is so incredibly
sedentary that one may stay under the same bush or Joshua tree for much
of its entire life and, being strongly thigmotactic, will always
try to keep its back against a solid protective roof..."
-Ann Zwinger, The Mysterious Lands
See? It's as simple as that. Now I have the rest of the afternoon free to mingle at the bathhouse.
(*phone says 'Hay asshole you copied that whole thing from their web site'*)
I hope you've enjoyed this presentation of "Fuck You, I'm From The Internet", the debut one-act play by online dental practitioner and ball-remover Mark Prindle. AT SOME POINT GET TO THE REVIEW
Though hardly the "first entirely song-based project" that Negativland has released (does nobody remember the ill-fated Free?), Thigmotactic is a surprisingly and delightfully melodic CD. Hosler and his collaborators have created a winning collection of playful songs that flow seamlessly through such disparate genres as folk, pop, blues, worldbeat, choral, avant-noise, anthemic rock, electro-beat and country-western while careening unpredictably through the descriptive adjectives of hooky, funny, strange, haunting, pointless, indescribable, traditional, brilliant, beautiful and butt-ugly.
Though Mark Hosler by nature has an oddly warbling voice, he uses it very well in these songs -- piling on vocal overdubs and singing quite lovely little melodies. Instrumentally, the songs feature lots of acoustic guitars and keyboards, but even lotser ridiculous noises. From perplexing rhythmic non-instruments to electronic blorps, brapps, squiggles and hweeeeooos, these songs are virtually inundated with Spike Jones-esque audio tomfoolery. Not every song is palatable from beginning to end (they really go overboard with the gross electronics at times), but nearly all of them are at least interesting. And several are easily the 'singalong' equivalent of "Four Fingers," "Nesbitt's Lime Soda Song" and all those other Negativland hits you possibly grew up with.
Notable lyrics include:
- "I wish someone would send a bomb to every advertising executive's home"
- "I don't dream about the President anymore"
- "I miss you my darling, when I'm eating my toast"
- "You were playing my favorite record by the Tijuana Brass and Herb Alpert"
- Something about a gigantic basketball in the middle of a power plant
Notable samples include:
- Richard Nixon's resignation speech
- A DJ getting pissed off at a caller because she has a slight criticism
- People talking about milk
- Something about filling a vagina with light
Notable asides include:
- "Ow! I bit my tongue."
- "Oh, it was on voice-activation. Shit."
Notable musics include:
- Gigantically hummable Acoustic Folk-Pop reminiscent of early King Missile ("Richard Nixon Died Today," "Extra Sharp Pencils," "Basketball Plant")
- Delightfully Cheapass Casio Keyboard Pop ("Lying On The Grass")
- A sample from "Billie Jean" or "Private Eyes" or something ("It's Not A Critique")
- A billion aggressive people singing Blues-Folk ("By Truck")
- Synthetic Worldbeat, possibly a Peter Gabriel parody? ("Jack Pastrami")
- An acoustic guitar line cut off in mid-riff, then sampled and repeated to create a new 'hook' ("Influential You")
- Harmonized 'Brothers Four'-style old-timey vocal choir ("Steak On A Whim")
- A melancholy instrumental created from ridiculous clanging, whistling and scraping noises ("Omnipotent Struggle")
- Rollicking goodtime country-western hoedown ("Rancho Pancho")
Before I heard the album, the question in my head was of course "Why would Mark Hosler record a bunch of songs and then release them as a 'Negativland' album?" Afterwards, the question became "Why didn't he do this before!?" Why did I have to waste money on irredeemable stinkertons like Crosley Bendix Radio Reviews, Willsaphone Stupid Show, Time Zones Exchange Project and Deathsentences Of The Polished And Structurally Weak before Hosler realized, "Say, you know what? I can write songs too!" I mean, it's not all brilliant, but there are a lot of catchy songs and bright ideas to be found here.
(if you can deal with all the preposterous noise racketeering)
See? It's as easy as that. Now I have the rest of the evening free to boogie at the piss club.
(*phone says 'I'll see you at the piss club! I've got the full bladder if you've got the plastic sheets!'*)
I hope you've enjoyed this presentation of "Thank You, I'm With The Piss Club", the sophomore one-act play by online goat machinist and rectal thermometer Mark Prindle. AT SOME POINT END THE REVIEW
For more Negativity, eat shit! And go to Mark Prindle's Link Of Lovv.