|| LP edition originally issued with a 20-page booklet featuring article reprints, reviews and photographs from 1979-1987 (the printing negatives for the book are now lost) and a Car Bomb bumper sticker. Originally issued on black vinyl although unauthorized colored vinyl pressings exist. The Penguin version was issued on vinyl only in Greece (now out of print) and was distributed by CBS!!!
In 1999 Seeland reissued ESCAPE FROM NOISE in a reworked package designed for the CD format. Negativland always intended the original EFN artwork to be for the LP format only, and were never happy with Don Joyces original painted cover image reduced to such small size on the first CD issue. The new version features that artwork full size as the front cover, with the remainder of the artwork reformatted throughout the package by ace designer Dan Lynch (http://www.sp3d.com). The new version of EFN is NOT remastered or remixed in any way, save for the addition of some CD mastering tomfoolery, nor is there ANY extra material added. Doors slam/People yell/Children scream/Sirens whine/Trucks rumble and roar/And rock music blares, as Negativland asks the musical question Is there any escape from noise?
Escape from Noise is a concept album about noise, but its more than a sound effects record for the semiotics set. Many of the tracks feature obliquely satirical vignettes; on others, collages of found sounds are laid over mechanistic backing tracks. You can trace Negativlands lineage back through Revolution No. 9, the Mothers of Invention and Stockhausen s musique concrete. The seventeen cuts average about two minutes long, and they teem with little snapshots of sound - no wonder this profoundly weird and funny anti-record took four years to make.
There are tracks that refer to such political hot potatoes as nuclear power, handguns and the Soviet threat, but mostly Escape from Noise deals with consumerism and pop culture. It starts off with a Big Brotherish announcer intoning, The cut that follows is the product of newly developed compositional techniques based on state-of-the-art marketing-analysis technology. The song turns out to be a robotic rhythm crack littered with cartoon sound effects from the depths of our Saturday-morning collective unconscious. In Michael Jackson, a TV-preacher type recites an exhaustive litany of million-selling rock groups whom he then damns to hell for making rock music directed specifically against children.
There is a certain sonic typecasting of the bizarre lineup of guest artists - Jerry Garcia plays chimes. and makes mouth sounds; Jello Biafra flushes a toilet. Other guests are Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, avant-garde guitarist Henry Kaiser and the Residents, who contribute hoots and clanging. Other credited instruments include bomb parts, tiny metal banjo, Regular Booper, shortwave, halfspeed violin, leaf blower and processed animals.
Perhaps it s best not to speculate about what would happen if you listened to this California mind zap on your Walkman.
Escape From Noise, the fourth LP from Oakland, Calif.-based Negativland, has already had its share of crises and controversies. Three years in the making, it came close to destruction at one point when a fire broke out below the studio where it was being mixed. Then there was the Dear Abby controversy after its release; and then, most tragically, the event in Minnesota.
According to Richard Lyons of the group, a boy in Rochester, Minnesota, is reported to have killed his parents after an argument with them over his listening to Christianity Is Stupid, a track on the new SST album. In addition to invoking images of the Ozzy Osbourne teen suicide case, the connection is itself an unfortunate reason for propelling the group to national attention. Even stranger is the Dear Abby debate, in which Lyons says that his Nesbitt s Lime Soda Song has become the grounds for a heated controversy in print over whether bees are stupid enough to fly into a bottled beverage.
Swiping bits and pieces of a wide assortment of material into its tracks, Negativland uses everything from old 60s voice-overs to preachers sermons to synthesized dribblings in its audio collages. Mostly I spend more time in thrift stores than anyone, says Lyons. I like to collect a lot of old records, spoken word records and we all collect tapes. Don (Joyce) spends more time recording stuff off TV and radio.
Negativland will be taking its act on the road very soon - pending further controversies - with a mini tour of the U.S. The group will be joined by an array of cart machines, keyboards, guitars, effects and extra special props, including a fundamentalist preacher named Pastor Dick who has worked with the group for several years on its recordings. He puts the audience where we want them, says Lyons.
June 7, 1988
With just one song, Oakland jokesters Negativland vie with AC/DC for the title of Most Dangerous Band in the World. Last October they release Escape From Noise, a record of tape splicing, sound effects, and doctored public service announcements. It features Christianity Is Stupid, which repeats an out-of-context fragment from a raving preacher: Christianity is stupid, Communism is good. Come January in Rochester, Minnesota, 16-year-old David Brom is charged with the ax murder of his mom, dad, sister and brother. Police say the murders followed an argument between Brom and his dad about the song. Preparing for a national tour, Negativland say they were visited by certain federal authorities" interested in the Rochester case, and told "don t leave town." They haven t. Offered a chance to play at this summer s New Music Seminar, the band decline. In May a Bay-area TV station runs a news segment on the murder, intimating that "Christianity Is Stupid" is Negativland s "Helter Skelter." The next day a rock shatters a window of the apartment where two band members live.
What s going on? Negativland won t say which feds contacted them, because they don t want publicity, and don t want any more rock-throwers. But their vagueness makes one ponder if this is just publicity. "It would probably be us if it were a federal agency," says San Francisco FBI spokesman Chuck Latting, "but to the best of my knowledge we've not had contact with them." Negativland vocalist Richard Lyons says officials have authorized one Bay area gig, "providing we give equal time, allow entertainers and chosen representatives of the Christian faith to appear. And we have people out here eager to do so. They will be here to represent their faith in message and song." The band's talking to promoter Bill Graham. David Brom awaits trial.
BAND'S PUZZLING LINK TO MURDER CASE
By Joel Selvin
San Francisco Chronicle Pop Music Critic
Whatever it was that originally linked Oakland rock band Negativland with the gruesome Brom killings in Rochester, Minn., appears to have vanished into thin air
Last month, band members claimed that certain unnamed federal authorities asked the band not to tour after the Minnesota ax murders of an entire family, after 16-year-old David Brom supposedly argued with his staunchy Roman Catholic father about a Negativland song, "Christianity Is Stupid," then murdered his parents, brother, and sister. But what is really going on remains unclear.
The Village Voice contacted the San Francisco office of the FBI - the most likely federal agency to scrub the rock band's planned tour - and a spokesman denied ever contacting the group. Furthermore, the Olmstead County Prosecutor in charge of the Brom case had never even heard of any connection between the murders and any argument about any music - Negativland's or anybody else's. "There's only one person in a position to know," county attorney Ray Schmidt said. "And he's not talking."
A spokesman for SST Records, the group's label, said the only information the company got about the situation came from the band. The band members contacted refused to answer any questions about where the connection between "Christianity Is Stupid" and the Brom killings may have originated, preferring to mail a written statement so they wouldn't be misquoted. "We are victims of the media," Mark Hofler (sic) of Negativland said.
"As to our uncertain association with the Brom case," the prepared statement said, "we think that it's foolish and will comment on it no further. For a while, during interviews, we made comments to the press and found that we were so misstated to fit the writer's need to grab attention and the editor's need to abbreviate, that we will now make no more statements whatsoever. Sensationalism reigns."
But how did the story first get out? If the prosecutor, who has first-hand access to all the evidence in the case, knows of no connection between the song and the supposed argument that led to the murders, who does? Who are these mysterious "certain federal authorities" the band said asked them not to leave town? Could the band itself have been the initial source of the link between these brutal murders and their own music in some misguided attempt to gain publicity? Band members won't say either way.
But tacked onto the band's written statement was a vague announcement of plans to hold a public performance - to include "the piece that sparked the controversy," an audio montage that features some unknown preacher raving, out of context, "Christianity is stupid. Communism is good" - accompanied by a representative of the Calvary Evangelical Fellowship, so the controversy can have "a full and open forum." It's slated for late August/early September at some as-yet unannounced location.