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Program 565: Sound Collages and a String Quartet

KALW Broadcast Date: June 21, 2019 | Host: Liam Herb

On this Music From Other Minds, Liam Herb explores some sound collages by the Bay Area plunderphonic collective Negativland, and Eleanor Alberga‘s celestially inspired String Quartet No. 1.

Here’s some information on the less radio friendly half of the Negativland album you can hear on this program:

In 1988, after the successful release of their first concept album “Escape from Noise” Negativland was in a pickle, SST records (the first major label they had worked with) wanted them to go on a tour that was sure to lose them money and cost them time. They hatched what seemed like a brilliant idea, send a phony press release to their record label saying that they couldn’t leave home due to a possible connection to a very public murder case.

The press release said that “Federal Official Dick Jordan” advised Negativland to stay home because it appeared that their song “Christianity is Stupid” had caused an argument that lead to the David Brom murdering his entire family with an ax.

This was not the case, but before they could say as much, a gag order was placed on the all subject matter relating to the case and once it was lifted, a media was already knocking at their door.

Here’s the groups response to the events:

Somewhere beneath the media representation of the Brom murders is an inexplicable human tragedy. Our act of creating a false association with such a tragedy will remain open to ethical interpretation.

We all swim in an ocean of mass media that fills our minds with people and events with which we have no actual contact at all. We commonly absorb these media presences as part of our own “reality,” even though any media experience consists only of one-way, edited representations of reality Negativland uses this electronic environment of factual fictions as both source and subject for much of our work, keeping in mind that to experience a picture of a thing is not to experience the thing.

Our lie was intended for and directed to the media, and it proved very effective in exposing the unreliable process of cannibalization that passes for “news.” Negativland chose to exploit the media’s appetite for particularly sensational stories by becoming a subject they couldn’t resist – – the latest version of a ridiculous media cliché which proposes that rock song lyrics instigate murder. Common sense suggests that murderers purchase records that appeal to them, just as they purchase the weapons they use.

“Helter Stupid” is about the media menu of illusions we all eat from, as well as an attempt to materialize our perception of Negativland as a bogus subject of the voracious media meat grinder. – Negativland

To hear the title track of Helter Stupid, click here.

To see a full timeline of events and read an interview with the group, click here.

Program Audio

30-Second Spot

Track Info & Links

Title: The Answer Is…
Composer: Negativland
Performers: Negativland
Recording Title: Points
Record Label:  Seeland Records
Catalog Number: 002


Title: String Quartet No. 1
Composer: Eleanor Alberga
Performers: Ensemble Arcadiana
Recording Title: Eleanor Alberga: String Quartets 1, 2 & 3
Record Label: Navona Records
Catalog Number: 6234


Title: The Perfect Cut
Composer: Negativland
Performers: Negativland
Recording Title: Helter Stupid
Record Label: SST Records
Catalog Number: SST CD 252

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