Media terrorists who all look really wimpy.
* special introductory paragraph!
* Negativland
* Points
* A Big 10-8 Place
* Over The Edge Volume One: Jamcon '84
* Escape From Noise
* Helter Stupid
* Over The Edge Volume Two: Pastor Dick
* Over The Edge Volume Three: The Weatherman
* Over The Edge Volume Four: Dick Vaughn
* U2 EP
* Guns EP
* Crosley Bendix Discusses The U.S. Copyright Act
* Free
* Over The Edge Volume Five: Crosley Bendix Radio Reviews
* Over The Edge Volume Six: The Willsaphone Stupid Show
* Dead Dog Records
* Over The Edge Volume Seven: Time Zones Exchange Project
* Over The Edge Volume Eight: Sex Dirt
* Dispepsi
* Happy Heroes EP
* The ABCs of Anarchism EP (with Chumbawamba)
* These Guys are From England and Who Gives a Shit
* Deathsentences Of The Polished And Structurally Weak
* No Business
* Thigmotactic
Negativland is a band of merry gents who try to make humorous social commentary by creating music from samples - of mundane commercials, mundane 70's top 40 radio, foolish politicians, hypocritical religious figures - heck, if it's been recorded, they'll use it! Sometimes they come across as true geniuses; other times, they aim for the obvious and miss entirely. Still pretty interesting, though, for the most part. They have a good ear for noise, but, unfortunately, not so good an ear for melody. Thus, a lot of their more entertaining work can be heard on the Over The Edge series, which is just a bunch of excerpts from the live experimental radio show that they did (do?) on KPFA in California. Wacky characters like the cleaning fluid-obsessed Weatherman, the terminally amateurish cheeseball DJ Dick Vaughn, and the always long-winded and occasionally brilliant social critic Crosley Bendix light up the stage on these recordings. Plus, the input from live callers is often more inspired than what the band members themselves are doing.

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!!!!!?

Negativland - Seeland 1980.
Rating = 6

Oh, okay. They actually worked up to brilliance. They started off (as Mark Hosler's high school project) trying to sound like an American Throbbing Gristle. Ever heard Throbbing Gristle? Cold miserable keyboard drone and racket that accurately portrayed life in the grey Industrial part of Britain where the band members lived. Thus - Negativland sounds like commercialized boring family values miserable weary keyboard drone. Using the same instruments as their British counterparts, these kids just did whatever they wanted - little acoustic melodies, long stretches of desolate bleeps, drunken jokes, bird call tapes - you know, anything! And that's what makes it pretty fun to listen to. With no song titles (just "1-20"), you never know what's gonna come up next. For the most part, unfortunately, it's just keyboard blips.

But ooooooh! The parts that aren't!!!!!! Hooooo-eeeeee!!!!!

Reader Comments

Chris Seawall
for no reason at all, i wrote down what i was hearing while listening to this album for the first time the other night. i can't imagine anyone would want to read this, but here it is, track by unnamed track:

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

Paul Kazee
Regarding track 3 on the 1st Negativland album, Chris Seawall quotes a portion of dialogue as follows:

"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.
I think they were more trying to be like Cabaret Voltaire and Nurse With Wound than Throbbing Gristle, though there are detectable TG influences as well. This is much more musique concrete than "plunderphonic", and it doesn't really go anywhere, but it's a nifty early document anyway. The unique handmade packaging is pretty cool too.

Paul Kazee
Call me strange, but this is actually my favorite Negativland lp. The only one I still pull out and play with any regularity.

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Points - Seeland 1981.
Rating = 4

A mistake. Pretty much a remake of the first album, but with song titles (so, after one listen, you ALWAYS know what's coming up next). "Harry To The Ferry" and "The Answer Is..." start the album off with a lively catchy bang, but then it fizzles out and puts you to sleep. I know it's probably supposed to be an aural representation of the doldrums of life in Contra Costa County, but it doesn't come across that way. Unlike Throbbing Gristle (or even, to a lesser extent, the first Negativland album), this record doesn't make life seem miserable and uninspiring; it makes the band seem miserable and uninspiring. It's hard to see what they're getting at, and there's no artistic growth to be seen.

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A Big 10-8 Place - Seeland 1983.
Rating = 6

Better. There's a concept here, although I'll be darned if I can figure out what it is. Something about Contra Costa County again, I guess. Side one is a fairly amusing cut-up of various sounds, songs, and words - presumably having to do with our capitalistic tendencies (e.g. "Come on kids, get your father and we'll go look at some MORE new houses!"). Unfortunately, aside from the deliriously moronic acoustic sing-along "Four Fingers," side two gets quite tiresome quite quickly. It's the Weatherman (who has a hilarious voice, but not necessarily anything interesting to say) telling some indecipherable little tale about travelling to "180 and the letter G" backed with some noises and melodies and things. Not too intriguing, suggests I. But the "Theme To A Big 10-8 Place" with its jovial shouted refrain, "Very stupid! Very stupid!" is undoubtedly one of the most capital intros in the history of long players.

Hell, gary players even.

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
For best results, pop this CD in the car stereo while making a long car trip at night. You feel yourself playing out the creepy, nonsensical "180-G". Great album. Full of the type of weird crap we've all probably done with a tape deck and a boring Sunday afternoon, but very creative. The last of the very raw, inaccessible Negativland albums, this is also before Don Joyce and Dick Lyons were official members.

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Over The Edge Volume One: Jamcon '84 - SST 1984
Rating = 4

I don't know. Side one is a tribute to "jammers," they of the ham radios and scanners and assorted and sundry geekdom. I find it tiring, myself. It's not funny. It includes obscenely few neat noises. It's just there. And there for about 45 minutes!

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.

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
Free form ham radio may have been a big influence on the band, but from where I'm sitting, it sounds like a bunch of vulgar, unimaginative loudmouths. The CD version is a big improvement, however, over the version Mark reviewed. It contains two brilliant pieces. The first is the band's "stockholder's picnic", held at the Bemusement Park at the Mystery Depression. Crosley Bendix reads the stockholder's report. Very funny. After that, a great parody of CNN-style self-absorbed media coverage where Negativland covers Reagan's 1985 inaugural address and almost none of the speech is even heard. Great fake reports put the Daily Show to shame.

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Escape From Noise - SST 1987.
Rating = 8

At one time, I considered this the Negativland classic. Most fans do, I think. It has eighteen mostly high-quality tracks; some reveal flashes of brilliant social insight ("Methods Of Torture," "The Playboy Channel," the "Announcement" at the beginning), others are weird and unsettling, even if for no discernible reason ("Time Zones," "Michael Jackson"), and a few are just knee-slappingly funny ("Quiet Please," "Car Bomb"). All in all, it's great for an entertaining forty minutes; unfortunately, I don't think it comes across quite as well the seventh or eighth time you listen to it. I guess this is what happens when a band puts concept over sound. The sounds on this record, in fact, are kinda stupid - mainly dumb keyboards and nerdy voices. Smart, but not aurally pleasing enough to drag me back again and again and again.

Reader Comments (Jim Hull)
Hmmm. Hmmm. Well. On first visit, I must say I'm underwhelmed. Really cool voices on here. Satire...sure, but not all of it scores. In fact, I'd say only 50/60% really hits the mark. And it gonna sound dated...already does to me..."Over The Hiccups"? Cute! "Car Bomb" is nice...too long,'s a hc punk tune right? Complete with satirical count-offs? Hehhehe. Heh. Now where did I put my Frank Zappa albums...? (Jason Adams)
Pleasant on the surface, but not as deep as other releases. I guess this was their attempt to lighten up their sound and be a little more accessible on their new label. Some real standouts here anyway: "Sycamore", You Don't Even Live Here", "Backstage Pass", and "Christianity Is Stupid". I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home, and I had heard Estus Pirkle's "If Footmen Tire You, What will Horses Do" (where he rants about basically everything being a communist plot, including episodes of Daktari), which was sampled for "Christianity Is Stupid". Too bad it led to those horrible murders.
After all these years, I STILL don't know how many time zones there are in the Soviet Union. I need to listen more carefully.

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* Helter Stupid - SST 1989 *
Rating = 10

However!!!! However!!!!! Oh yeah. This is the Negativland classic by my standards! Not only as conceptually bright as a flaming bag of dog poop, but also as pleasing to the ear as a warm pat of margarine!

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?

Reader Comments (Mike)
I hate this record. a big disappointment after escape from the noise which I would have given the ten. the title track would be a classic if it was 4 minutes instead of 4 hours. I like your pages and even YOU based on them. I even want to laugh at your jokes but can't. I respect the fact that you like such a diverse range of musical styles. People are so musically close minded these days. I never understood how most people will pick just one derivative of the bigger musical picture and only listen to music that fits into those particular little mental constructs they've chosen for themselves. The only thing I can't hook up with you on is the whole heavy metal thing. there enough good music in the world without resorting to ac/dc,metallica,etc. I don't have a need to be that in touch with the white trash psyche, but to each his own. Keep the up good work. (Daniel Streb)
I dunno. Yes, I know that it was just a prank to make the media look like a bunch of attention-wanting losers, but did it really have to be, um... NINETEEN minutes long???? Still, there are some great moments on here, like in the John Lennon sample where he's talking about how the Beatles are humorous and serious people get shot. That's ironic, don'tcha think? And the whole "Christianity is Stupid" part is pretty funny. I haven't heard the original track. I don't get the whole "Moribund Music of the 70's" part at all either. What's a "Perfect Cut" that he keeps talking about? 6/10 (Jason Adams)
Favorite moment: On the final track a voice says, "It's so annoying I usually just shut the radio right off". Ten-second pause, then "Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your radio, Jayum the Box!" Can't say how brilliant, scary, and funny this album is. Absolutely Negativland at it's best.
Funny stuff! Dispite what other people say, i think this could be even longer then it is! I just love listening to this stuff, its so interesting yet hilarious and its just a great concept and its funny these guys had the balls to do this stuff. A Definate 10.
Straight from the mouth of Mark Hosler himself...

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Over The Edge Volume Two: Pastor Dick - SST 1989.
Rating = 7

The premise is: A friend of Pastor Dick has had a lot of money stolen out of her purse, so he is taking confessions over the phone, assigning dollar amounts to the callers' sins, and having them pay whatever amount he assigns them for atonement. And, to make it more fun, he has agreed to take a drink of an alcoholic beverage for every dollar raised. That's the premise.

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!

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
Honestly, Dick Lyons had to have a fundamentalist background. His parody is so dead on it's scary. CD contains additional bits from a radio show featuring a man unsure if it's okay to drive a Dodge Demon. And Dear Lord, "Your First Day In Heaven" is a Christian Rawk classic rivaling the great Stryper!
A brilliant concept that you must take the live aspect into consideration. Broadcasted live during the overnight hours (when the FCC doesn't care how much swearing you do) this can only be described as mind-fuck radio. Favorite moments: "I....I want a piece of meat!", when Dale Embry thanks his mother by calling her "Dad" and how Dale has followed "kids brigades...not kidnappers." Why me Lord?

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Over The Edge Volume Three: The Weatherman - SST 1989.
Rating = 8

Oh, that David Wills. A funny voice, an occasional good line. What's the appeal? I don't know! This tape's pretty entertaining, though. On side one, he claims he's gay and urges others to come out of the closet on the air. (Most of the homophobic callers are less than obliging). Side two has about twenty minutes of him speaking through a trebly mic and proclaiming himself "The Clorox Cowboy," followed by twenty minutes of him trying to talk to callers about the potential fire hazard caused by transient peaks in doorbell transformers. Somehow, even with a post-ironic slew of zany callers, he manages to play the whole thing straighter than an arrow. And it's pretty charming. The sound effects are good, too, as is the funny hard-rockin' nerd song about how much he wants his coffee. I'm too tired to say much else about it. It's a comedy album. Postmodern comedy? Sorta. Sorta just geeky, though. As a whole, well worth your entertainment dollar. They were generally pretty good with the live thing; they had more room to just mess around and let magic happen.

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
Highlight: A drunk and/or stoned woman calls and rambles about art and then starts to argue with the samples. Elsewhere, people apparently weren't very understanding about homosexuality in the early eighties even in Berkeley. Pretty fun, but tiresome like the entire Over The Edge series.

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Over The Edge Volume Four: Dick Vaughn - SST 1990.
Rating = 9

Second only to Helter Stupid (and maybe U2) in the Negativland catalog, this thing is topnotch "pomo" comedy. Or is that pomoco? TONOPOMOCO!!!! On side one, the almost-professional DJ Dick Vaughn transforms KPFA into a horrible shitrock SUPERSTATION, complete with commercials, news, contests, call-in "smash or trash" surveys, and, first and foremost, the absolutely worst music ever recorded by man ("Van Man?," "Balderdash?" Where the heck did he find this crap?). Had I been in the area the night this aired, I would have been laughing til the sun shone down. It is truly brilliant and a laugh riot the whole way through (with station slogans like "More music, more commercials, more fun" and "Don't touch that dial; it's got Dick on it!," how could it go wrong?).

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.

Reader Comments
This review is spot-on. This is classic Negativland, and it is one of their best albums, though it doesn't really consist of any compositions. Instead, it's a 'best-of' collection of moments from their radio show featuring the always enjoyable Dick Vaughn. Just listen to him when he seriously tries to conduct inane trivia contests! Or when he tries to communicate with the lunatics who call the radio station hotline! Or when he sincerely tries to act excited about the music of Jerry Reed! This man is a national treasure in good old Negativland, and must be one of the best put-on characters I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. How about the conservative listeners who call the hotline because they just cannot for the life of them understand what they're hearing? It is really entertaining. One thing, though - be aware that a great job was not done transferring this material to CD. ESPECIALLY for a bunch of audio nerds like Negativland. What were they thinking putting out such a quiet recording? You can barely even hear the greatest parts (and there are lots of them). I remastered the entire double-album myself and it made all the difference...

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U2 ep - SST 1990.
Rating = 9

Ahhh..... I still remember fondly the night my friend Tim Ross said to me, "You'd better buy that new Negativland EP; it's not gonna be in stores for very long!" Like a fool, I decided that food was more important than the new Negativland EP, so I didn't listen. Fie! It was nowhere to be found within two weeks! And why? Why?

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.

Reader Comments (Matt Robesch)
Okay, I'll bite. I agree people ARE just keeping busy their whole lives... whether they're entertained at the same time I cannot say. Most people just mindlessly toil and take orders during their brief time on Earth and then make up excuses to help them feel better about doing so ("I'm doing it for my family/god/country" or "Jesus will reward me" or whatever).

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). (Zach English)
People exercise and work out to feel good about themselves, not for entertainment. I know that if you ask people that are busy working out if they enjoy what they do, they'll most likely say "No, but I have to do it to keep shape and feel good about myself". I wouldn't call that entertainment. But, overall I agree with you. It seems like alot of people rag on big-budget action movies and TV shows because they "corrupt your mind" or whatever. But, basically, no matter whether you watch Speed 2 or read Hamlet, you're just doing it to pass the time. (Daniel Streb)
Classic!! Unbelievable! How did they get that Casey Kasem outtake? Funny as hell. The funniest record I've heard in YEARS. And interesting, too. It talks about banned records, "The Kingston Trio couldn't even say the word `damn'. It was banned on the radio." Now THAT'S weird. Long way away from, "I want a goddamn concerted effort to come out of a record that isn't a fucking uptempo record every time I do a goddamed DEATH dedication!!". U2 is absolutely essential, even if you have to shell out fifty bucks for a badly-scratched vinyl one like I did. And what a great album cover! 10/10. (Daniel Streb)
Hey check this out! There's this interview at where Mark Hosler is talking to this guy and he's talking about the U2 single and ah what the hell... I'll just put it here:

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.
Oh man. This is hilarious stuff. Not really very much musical value, but as an historical document this is just priceless. It's funny enough hearing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" getting torn apart and narrated over on track 1, but side 2 just goes over the edge into absolute hilarity with all of that censorship stuff. Those Casey Kasem outtakes are awesome!! How did he let all of this stuff get recorded in his presence? 9/10. Go download it from Negativland's website, it's not like you have to pay anything.

And now I finally understand the tagline on the U2 page! I feel so special!! (Jason Adams)
Their fifteen minutes of fame (literally). The Weatherman was never funnier, the Casey Kasem outtakes are hilarious, and I love the corrupted MIDI file background for the second track. Excellent.
Funny stuff! I'll agree here that the 2nd track is the funniest, with the hilarious samples of a pissed off Casey Kasem, but its all funny shit. I just love this band, and i love how they did this. Its a shame what happened after this though. What with the lawsuits and the label disputes and stuff. I was listening to a Negativland interview, and they were saying they were so desparate that they even asked The Edge (from U2) for money! And U2 supposedly has a sense of humor with the whole thing as well. Definatly agree with the rating here, and i recommend anyone who is reading this to go to and download the Mp3 or RA files from there.
I have never heard this, but there's a great interview between The Edge and (it is revealed) the two members of Negativland about the EP and sampling in general.

It's really good. The Edge comes off pretty well. It's on Negativland's website.

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Guns EP - SST 1991.
Rating = 5

I know this was just a quick throw-together to raise some money for legal fees, but why is it so uneventful? It's anti-gun. Ooooo, THAT'S clever. How biting! Even the soundbites, for the most part, are a bore. Don't waste your time. Go play racquetball.

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
Not bad. Following the brilliance of Helter Stupid and U2 it seems a bit weak, but "Then" is very quiet and evocative and "Now" is alternately funny and creepy. (Matt F.)
I hate this piece of shit. Negativland suck; all they keep doing lately is re-issuing the overrated "U2" single. And then releasing more shit like this.

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!

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Crosley Bendix Discusses The U.S. Copyright Act - Seeland 1992.
Rating = 8

Don Joyce speaks on the Copyright Act. Has lots of good points. Very interesting, educational stuff. Never really gets tiresome either, believe tit or not.

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Free - Seeland 1993.
Rating = 5

Ugh. Negativland do songs, and sound like a slower Devo. Terrible idea. A few of the melodies are passable, but the vocal stylings are atrocious, and the samples are just thrown on top haphazardly, as if to say, "See? We're still Negativland!" Luckily, there are still some intriguing revelations; people fear torture more than death, our sacred national anthem was based on an old drinking song, buzzwords have more impact on the average American than the TRUTH does - these are "important" things to realize, and it's good that a musical group brought them up. However, the poorly-handled anti-drunk-driving stuff and the endless, pointless Weatherman story are too much. It's not an atrocious record, but they need to realize their strengths and never again attempt mainstream songcraft. Let Phil Collins do that; this crap just doesn't cut the mustard.

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
Has its moments, but Mark Hosler's singing is truly intolerable. I actually think "Happy the Harmonica" is cute. And even the bad tracks have their moments, like the weird found tape on "View To The Sun". Great ending, too

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Over The Edge Volume Five: Crosley Bendix Radio Reviews - Seeland 1993.
Rating = 4

Yawn. Don Joyce is an extremely intelligent man who uses the Crosley Bendix character to spew out his personal observations about culture, art, and human nature. In tiny doses, this stuff is impressive. Thrown together into a seventy-minute CD, it's unlistenable. Who wants to listen to seventy minutes of this guy with a terribly obnoxious fake voice just running off at the mouth? Not I!!!!
Reader Comments (Larry Gilbert)
First, you really should seek out and get Negativland's book Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2. (I tried to put up a Web edition of it, but I'm swamped with other projects now and who knows if I'll ever get back to it.) It tells the story of the U2 single--initial reviews, the initial lawsuit, the settlement, the second lawsuit from SST, the letter from Casey Kasem's lawyers, Negativland's interview with The Edge, news clippings on other artists being sued over song parodies, Island Records' final relenting, Negativland's final plea to Casey Kasem... it's all there, and then some.

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.
I agree. Not their best by a long shot. But ohhhh... listen to "Squant." It will make you cry. Well, it made me cry.

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Over The Edge Volume Six: The Willsaphone Stupid Show - Seeland 1993.
Rating = 4

The idea is as cute as a pussywillow just a-floating in the breeze, unconcerned with the bubbles and troubles of everyday life in these post-Ray-Davies-having-any-goddamned-talent-at-all days with George Bush's SON poised to be our next president (because his father did such an excellent job, or so I'd ironically have you believe even though I really have no clue what he may or may not have done because I don't follow politics at all). I have a new apartment. I also have OCD. That's obsessive-compulsive disorder. I'm trying everything I can: books, therapy, psychiatrists, drugs, alcohol -- but it just won't go away. I guess it never will. My shrink says I need to learn to live with it better but I can't. It makes it feel like something is ALWAYS WRONG. No matter how fantastic my life is (and it is, believe me), I always feel like something is wrong. And I'm convinced that if I don't have sex with my girlfriend every few days, then my fear and obsessions will become so strong that I'll never be able to have sex again. That's been my main obsession for like four years now. And yet I somehow ALWAYS manage to have sex again. Then I feel good for three days, then I freak out again. Can't stop it. The thoughts race. Fear of failure. Fear of not being a man. Then, of course, I force sex on her two or three times a week just to prove I'm a man. Real fun for everybody. Supposedly everybody has problems. I guess they must. I hate mine. My brain picks on me. Makes me get obsessed with stuff. Gregg Turkington and a couple guys from the Cows probably think I'm a fruity pebble homosexual stalker now because I just get so obsessed with the idea "wow! i'm corresponding with an artist whose work I've enjoyed for years!" that I just keep e-mailing. Can't stop. And if I don't wear my shirts in a certain order, something feels wrong. If I don't listen to my CDs in a certain order, something feels wrong. If I eat dinner earlier than six hours after I finished lunch, something feels wrong. My brain is always busy at work worrying about something that doesn't matter -- usually trying to create order where randomness is much more appropriate. I hate it. I hate being me. I hate it so FUCKING MUCH. I'm extremely suicidal. My life is a dream come true -- awesome girlfriend, amazing apartment, great job with great salary, more CDs and albums than God, recording equipment, a few good friends, lots of porn, a semi-popular Web site -- and yet I can't enjoy any of it for more than a couple of days at a time. I cry. I beat myself in the head. It won't stop. It won't go away. It's always been there and it always will be. FUCK YOU.

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.

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
My favorite OTE release! Honestly, Mark's review is just baffling. Okay, some of the bits are tiresome, but I guess I'm just a Weatherman groupie. The "Casual Talk" bit on the last track is hilarious, as are all the call-in segments, and the verbal abuse the Monkees have to go through. Lovely. I wanna hug Betty Wills. (James)
Ok , Mark. I shoulda listened to ya.
This is fun for fifteen minutes, but it's a friggin' double CD! I'm guessin' I'm about half way through the second disc and I've had enough. Actually, I'd had enough half way through the first one, but it just arrived in the mail today, I paid for it, so I'd better give it a good friggin' go!
After I got over the amusement (one CD back, for 2 seconds) of Wills sounding exactly like his mother (already heard her on "Escape", I believe, and "Where are my cigarettes?" in Big 10-8 Place), I realised that she could have done the U2 thing and I wouldn't have laughed any harder. Does this mean Ma and Grandma are The Weathergirls? If it's raining men, it's drizzling.
This IS cute, and it's truely nice to hear a guy having an honest-to-God good time with his family, but, FOR FUCK'S SAKE: Negativland have a nasty habbit of showing us something, us saying "Yeah" and them showing it to us again and again and again, and us saying "Yeah, I got it." and them showing it to us again, and us going "YEAH, I FUCKING GOT IT, ALREADY!!!". For a bunch of guys that are really good at editing, they aren't very good at editing.
It does have its funny moments, I note, as I type. But none that make me want to rewind, or to put "Re-listen" in my diary.
Oh shit. Wills just announced his mother isn't with us any more. There will be no more recordings of her. "My father and my Grandmother don't like to be recorded very much. My mother seemed to make it all work out." (*gulp*)
Now he's playing recordings of her singing and being extra jovial, so I can't put on Arab On Radar and I have to stay here and be respectful. What a prick David Wills is.
Aww, his mum just sang "Barnacle Bill The Sailor" and she sounds really happy and un-selfconscious. What a gal!
I'm over his mother now, because he's gone back into talking about Fake Bacon and his Pedopillator, or some similar shit.
Certainly worth no less than a 4, 'cos, as you said about Helios Creed, "He's fuckin' Negativland".

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Dead Dog Records - Seeland 1994.
Rating = 8

One of their best -- hunt this down. It's available in the book "FAIR USE" and is 45 minutes of awe-inspiring, laughter-inducing, ear-cringing sample-happy splatchmalarkey relating to the U.S. Copyright Act in regard to music. Only a couple of points get tiresome. Most of it is ear candy for the mind. Mmmm. I could go for some ear candy right now.

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!!!!

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
What I love about Negativland is they just assume their audience is very, very smart. Therefore, when they're making a point, like they are here concerning US copyright law, they do it with tons of tape from hundreds of sources, pro and con. A fascinating listen, and probably the most dense mix they've ever done.
This review is spot-on. This is classic Negativland, and it is one of their best albums. This CD is only available as part of their book "The Letter U and the Numeral 2" (which itself is a thorough, behind-the-scenes look at musical copyright infringement) but the CD alone is worth the price. Weird music for sure, but it is so focused on themes of copyrights, legality and the very creation of music/art that it becomes a strong statement about the first amendment. Their selections of snippets, music and noise is top-notch here - total infotainment. This is experimental music that you could play for a family member, a girl, an acquaintance or just about anyone, and they could probably find something to like about it. Sure, their (thankfully) brief cover of "Gimme Gimme Gimme" is a blatant, non-rocking jab at Black Flag/Greg Ginn that sounds goofy (plus they already tackled him enough in the book). But this is practically the only rub amidst 40 more minutes of clever, classy entertainment.

James Greig
Jesus! These guys really are at their best under pressure, and the outcome thereof. 'Helter Stupid' and the possible nastiness 'Dispepsi' could have brought down upon them (but didn't) are my favourites. Here's another one, even if I've come to it a bit late. This is Negativland as I like them best: dense, funny, confusing, overwhelming, gripping and admirable. Obtaining it by buying the book is well worth it; the book is gripping in itself. It's a shame that when the courts aren't beckoning to them, we have to listen to David Wills vacuum his house for six hours.

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Over The Edge Volume Seven: Time Zones Exchange Project - Seeland 1994.
Rating = 4

Hay! Here's what I wrote in my ebay auction when I put this up for sale immediately after listening to it twice for review:

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.

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Over The Edge Volume Eight: Sex Dirt - Seeland 1995.
Rating = 5

This one advertises itself as consisting "entirely of music recorded live on Negativland's weekly radio show." So I thought to myself, "Oooh! A collection of funny songs pulled from different shows they've done over the years!" Nope. It is, in fact, a bunch of improvised "songs" pulled from one single 1995 episode of "Over The Edge." And they're not very funny either.

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.

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Dispepsi - Seeland 1997.
Rating = 9

When these men find a good concept to attack, hold the phones 'cuz they tear... The theme here is marketing in general, and soda marketing in particular. They've dug up oodles and oodles of old jingles, commercials and newsbites regarding such nonsense as celebrity endorsements, the "New Coke" fiasco, and consumer focus groups, and piled them on top of each other within and surrounding three or four hilarious songs that attempt to present Pepsi as the most important creation of all time. Maybe the thought is silly, but take a close look at soda advertising sometime. Listen to the jingles. Look at the actors' faces as they take that satisfying first chug of Mountain Dew, smile widely and stare approvingly at the bottle. It's malarky, it's bullshit, it's stupid, it's disgusting, but more than anything else, it's hilarious. Listening to this CD, you get the sense that Negativland have just about had it with the entire marketing establishment, but that they've chosen to work through their bitterness not by angrily decrying the world of big business, but by just making it seem really stupid.

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?

Reader Comments
Get Dispepsi NOW!!! It took me 3 weeks to track it down and it was worth it. Buy it before it goes the way of U2.... (Adam Bruneau)
American culture is really just like any other nations. Only with us, instead of praising music and art, we praise shallow, meaningless material objects. Over the years, I've grown more and more jaded about our commercialist culture, and it seems like Negativland is right there with me. This album is brilliant! 1/2 audio collages layered over techno pop and 1/2 catchy subversive tunage! The collages-composed of commercials, marketing tapes, and such forth-are amazing and genius in their layout. You can actually hear the capitalist bastards at Pepsi rotting in their own filth! And Negativland's original material is well-done also: 4 songs; a hilariously pun-driven mock-ad ("Drink It Up"), a sarcastic bash at celebrity endorsment ("Happy Hero"), an extremely catchy "dis" of commercialism ("The Greatest Taste Around"), and a clever little tune about the ego of these companies ("Aluminum or Glass"). The concept and design of the album is also carried out flawlessly. Final word: real social commentary that is as scary and sarcastic as it is true and catchy. (Jason Adams)
Despite comments to the contrary, I think Negativland really do try to get sued in order to get publicity for their art. So what fascinates me the most about this album is Pepsi's official response to it: "It's no Odelay, but it 's a pretty good listen." What the hell? Wait! That's genius. What's the best way to piss Negativland off? First of all: don't sue them or criticize them. Secondly: Compare them unfavorably to Beck, of all people! Funny! You go, Pepsi! The album is actually better than Odelay, by the way. It's really very good, probably second only to Helter Stupid.

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Happy Heroes EP - Seeland 1998.
Rating = 5

Another letdown in a career of letdowns. Aside from one astonishingly offensive and hilarious track called "O.J. And His Personal Trainer Kill Ron And Nicole," this is all pretty bland. Let's see - there's a boring ditty featuring boring samples of Colonel Sanders talking about chicken with his incomprehensible accent. There's another pretty dull one about a black hole pill. Oh! There are some really funny Orson Welles samples in one of the songs, but there's nothing of much interest surrounding the samples. My biggest complaint is the stupid, stupid, stupid fake commercials for a faux pharmeceutical called "Mertz" that "makes up your mind for you." The whole concept is dumb. This advertising schtick is already wearing thin, and it doesn't sound like they put much effort into this EP at all.

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!

Reader Comments (Jason Adams)
Big disappointment. The only tracks that are remotely interesting are the Orson Welles and Colonel Sanders bits, and even they are formulaic. Eddie Idle and his Mertz chewing band can go to hell.

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The ABCs of Anarchism (with Chumbawamba) - Seeland 1999
Rating = 1

If I wanted to dip my ears in a bucket of horse shit, I'd hang out in the kitchen at Hardee's.

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.

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These Guys are From England and Who Gives a Shit - Seelard 2001.
Rating = 6

Somebody's gonna have to help me out (of my panties) on this one, because I have no clue how they got permission to reissue the U2 shingle. I know that after like four years of whining like the pussies that the highly respectable guy who rips off bands Greg Ginn always said they were, they finally got Island and U2's management to agree to give the record back, but, last I heard, Casey Kasem, an incredibly talented individual who rose to fame and celebrity by using his stupid voice to announce the efforts of talented combos like After The Fire on America's Top 40, had not. Did he change his mind? Or did some 10-year statute of limitations end? Or is Negativeville just setting themselves up to be sued again because Dispepsi didn't do the trick? You tell me! You're the one holding the diploma you stole off that guy's wall!

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

Reader Comments (Evan Streb)
Actually, it is a bootleg, and Casey Kasem still hasn't granted permission for the single's release (and probably never will). Negativland themselves didn't have anything to do with it; they just found a copy one day and liked it so much that they decided to distribute it. How they can get away with even that is beyond me.

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Deathsentences Of The Polished And Structurally Weak - Seeland 2002
Rating = 3

When the musical trades first announced that the members of Negativville had just attempted something unlike anything they'd done before, my initial thought was of course "Have sex with a girl?" Once my hypothesis was proven wrong (for more than one reason), I decided to wonder why in Sam Hill a group of human beings would take the time to scour car junkyards for left-behind letters, notes and other such human missives, take photos of these communications along with the wrecked autos in which they were found, and release them in book form with a soundtrack CD. I continue wondering to this very day.

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!!!!

Reader Comments (Eric Benac)
This album is interesting for about uh half of it. Coming from something of a noise background, I enjoy the oddity of it. Maybe half is too much? Yeah, I downloaded this (which is okay they support it) so I don't have the book. And if it's that lame I'm not going to worry.

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 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?

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No Business - Seeland 2005
Rating = 5

Here's a funny story I forgot to tell you -- a few years ago, when I was just starting up the interview section on my site here, I sent Mark Hosler of Negativland fame an email saying, "Man, you guys are the best! I'm a big fan of the Over The Edge stuff, Dispepsi, Helter Stupid - all great, smart stuff, and I was wondering if I could interview you for my new 'interview section.' My site is at" A few days later, I was pleased as pumpkins to find a response from Mr. Hosler in my innybox. I opened it up to read the hilarious reply, "I've just read through your Negativland review page and must say that it seems like you don't actually like us at all!" Confused, I skimmed through my Negativland page for the first time since I'd posted it several years earlier -- and realized, "Say! He's right!" Oh well. It's not my fault they're the most inconsistent band in the world.

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: Please note that I can't accept credit or debit card payments.)

Reader Comments
Don't lament the missed opportunity to interview Negativland. While Mark Hosler is nice, and he's certainly smart and clever, I interviewed him once and he was just smug. Like he was just too good for the proceedings. Anyway, this band was phenomenally good at first. But frankly at this point I'm tired of the endless whining about copyright laws, etc. etc. Everyone already knows that copyright laws are outmoded. You can scan/copy/burn/record/sample/download anything and everything that's out there despite the fact that sometimes you're not supposed to. These guys were the first and best at collage but I think they played the 'victim' card once too often.

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Thigmotactic - Seeland 2008
Rating = 7

Okay first of all, you know how much I love Helios Creed, but here's his latest MySpace bulletin:

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 rings*)


(*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 rings*)

"Who dat?"

(*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

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Negativland purchasable CDs are available used and new and delightful discounts and full prices at this, a link I've provided

For more Negativity, eat shit! And go to Mark Prindle's Link Of Lovv.