Sunday, February 3, 2008


Negativland is an experimental music and sound collage band which originated in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970s. They took their name from a Neu! song [1], while their record label is named after another Neu! song. The current core of the band consists of Mark Hosler, Richard Lyons, Don Joyce, David Wills, and Peter Conheim, but membership is considered rather irrelevant, in the usual sense of band personnel, and this list may be inaccurate or false.
Negativland has released a number of albums ranging from pure sound collage to more musical expositions. These have mostly been released on their own label, Seeland Records. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, they produced several recordings for SST Records, most notably Escape from Noise, Helter Stupid, and U2. Negativland became involved in a lawsuit with U2's lawyers, which brought them widespread publicity and notoriety, but nearly destroyed them as a band.
Negativland started in Concord, California, in 1979 around the core founding members of Lyons and Hosler (who were in high school at the time), and released an eponymous debut in 1980.
A number of releases followed in the early 1980s, but it wasn't until after the release of their breakthrough sample and cut-up sonic barrage Escape from Noise in 1987 that Negativland gained wider attention. Vinyl copies of the album came with "CAR BOMB" bumper stickers, in reference to the album's song "Car Bomb".
Following the somewhat unexpected success of this album, Negativland faced the prospect of going on a money-losing tour. To prevent this, they put together a phony press release. It claimed that the acts of a mass-murderer named David Brom had actually been incited by their song "Christianity Is Stupid." The song contained samples deriding Christianity taken from the pro-Christianity film, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?.
The resulting fallout and media frenzy, based on the hoax by Negativland, had the effect of pointing out the herd mentality of the mass media. Though the press release was completely unsubstantiated by any facts, the lurid combination of murder, religion, and "rock" music proved too tempting for the media to ignore. The story ran on TV news shows, newspapers, and magazines, with little to no fact-checking. Soon the world was informed of the "Killer Song" that caused a kid to murder his parents with an ax.
The scandal became the foundation for their next release, Helter Stupid, which featured a cover photo of a TV news "journalist" intoning the ax murder story, with the news station's caption "Killer Song" above his head, and a photo of the ax murderer.
From Wikipedia
On Points LP:Negativland's second album -- and final one before Joyce became a full-time member -- found the band's ambitions and compositional range increasing in due measure, if still not quite up to where A Big 10-8 Place and after would lead them. That such a young band would be not merely content but inspired to try and twist as many recording conventions as possible to suit their own purposes -- especially years before home computers and software made such manipulation incredibly easy -- deserves credit alone. The trio's various sonic collage and Krautrock inspirations still hold sway in many places, ranging from rhythmic chimes slicing through a song mix to more random vocal sample/noise combinations (check out "Dear Mary" for a prime example). Meanwhile, the definition of what a "song" is itself is again tested more often than not. The themes of a fractured, not entirely whole suburbia again hold sway -- "A Nice Place to Live" and its juxtaposition of boosterish news reports and dark synth is a fine example -- and are further captured in part due to some inspired guest appearances. Wills' mother and aunt duet on accordion and singing for "Harry to the Ferry" -- though most of the song is in fact a rather insanely chopped up recording of the process of taping said piece -- while Hosler's own mother turns up with "kitchen noises" on the piano/synth improv "Clutch Cargo '81." A couple of the group's most straightforward compositions take a bow on Points, like the home organ bop of "The Answer Is..." (featuring a stuttering Ronald Reagan snippet, first of many politicized digs at the '80s state of mind). The credit list for the album alone is worthy of interest, with the three main members listed as playing, among other things, oven grill, puppies, parakeets, and a banana chair. Ned Raggett, All Music Guide
On first LP:An updating of the Faust Tapes aesthetic for the 1980s, by Americans (albeit Americans who named themselves after a Neu! song). An auspicious debut.
Well i think no intro was necessary for this phenomenal experimental band.One of the most important and influential US acts from early 80s till today.
get them both here


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Negativland. Much appreciated. By the way, there is no "e" in Negativland.

Anonymous said...

Cheers for posting this Mr Mutant; it rocks!

Anonymous said...

I knew these guys, and even visited the house ("180 and the letter G" is a street address). They were very inspirational and blissfully irreverent. Thank you for giving them their due.

Milton Parker said...

love these albums

their best album 'a big 10-8 place' was just reissued with a DVD from the late 80's -- the first 20 minutes of that DVD = a short film called 'no other possibility' re-enacting side two of '10-8 place' = must-see

lee said...

thanks so very much. i have wanted to hear their first 2 again for a while now. faaaaar out.
i gotta tell you, wearing my ''christianity is stupid-give up'' T-shirt back in the late 80's sure was a punk rock good time. old ladies would scream.....old men would threaten. i would laugh. some folks even cried! i got damned to hell......
big fun. i wish i had another one.

Anonymous said...

I do believe this is a NWW wishlist item of mine. I do believe I am doing an office chair swivel dance, right now.

I'm voting MutantSounds for President.

Your admirer,

Matt said...

I simply MUST say thanks for posting these up... no other possibility.

And i think it is totally funny that one of the above comments is by "Bono." Good, cheerful ha ha ho ho and hee hee on that.

Have a good time... shop as usual!

IMI said...

I am getting a password request for this. Other downloads from here haven't requested one and I don't see one listed.

vdoandsound said...

imi-just tested this and it worked fine. No password was requested. There never are any for our posts here.

darkflux said...

link is dead