Negativland - NEGATIVLAND
  Year :   1980
  Location :   USA
  Worktype :   Album
  Materials:   CD and LP
  Info :   Seeland 001

  Work Details  
  This album comes from the very suburban area of Concord California, about 40 miles east of San Francisco. All of the covers are hand-made by group members Richard Lyons and Mark Hosler, who have jointly completed at least 900 as of this writing. No two are alike. Mine looks like this- Outside cover: (front) a stenciled logo for the group that is completely covered by a black paper square sporting two photos cut out of magazines, one depicting six peach halves decoratively served up for dessert, the other a black and white photo of a distressed woman flanked by the words Bitter, Miserable, Afraid, Cold, Lonely, Unforgiving, Heartbroken. The back cover also has some stencil work that is overlaid first by a square panel of striped wallpaper, to which are attached a small rectangle of fabric and an 8 x 10 panel providing the credits for the LP. Inside I find a copy of a Coffee-Toffee Torte recipe backed by a dialogue between two folks discussing baking methodology. Next is an 8 x 10 logotype for the group depicting a man in pajamas with arms stretching to his ankles topped by the word Negativland. Even the record label itself, with its black and white illustrations of industrial America, is a departure from the norm. The name Negativland could be thought of as a symbol for the land from which this music spews forth. This is suburban stream of consciousness, much in the vein of Mnemonists, but a bit more structured musically. This audio world is somewhat like the visual world of television, where scenes of guerrilla warfare or starvation are arbitrarily mixed with bra commercials and public service announcements for Gulf Oil. In this world, the juxtaposition of unrelated sounds is not only possible, it is a necessary and natural phenomenon. Thus, we hear some clunky folk-stylings on the guitar combined with the sounds of a kitchen timer, vacuum cleaner, grinder, and whatever else. This is a sound environment in which TV and radio spots have as much necessary prescence as the songs that come and go from this group. Typically, the group combines a few conventional band instruments with extraneous environmental sounds(the environment usually being a living room). This is a call for freedom from the asinine embodiments of life in the American material world. There are no obvious patterns to the LP; its more or less a continuous venture, meant to be heard in its entirety(or perhaps while the TV is on). Here a garage band, there a bizarre triptych of subconscious allusions and cosmic bloopers. It is thoroughly enjoyable, non-pedantic, non-political, and always interesting. Their ability to avoid cliched structures permits the queerness of suburban experience---which is itself an existential clichˇ of its own--to peak loud and clear. The album was recorded in the groups bedroom studio using 4-track reel-to-reel equipment, at 7 1/2 I.P.S -Thom Holmes, Recordings Magazine