April 24, 2009

Music review: Asian Dub Foundation, Negativland

electronic music in working class culture

On the cultural left-wing, folk, hip hop and hardcore punk are the usual genres that convey working class sentiment about life under capitalism. Rebelling against the status quo through music usually produces powerful lyrics that can stand on their own merits as poetry.One genre that often doesn't come to mind is electronic music. Electronic music has branched into many different types itself....

PART 2 (final)

With sampling, music with the use of progressive sound bites was bound to be produced by progressive musicians. For example, excerpts of a lecture by Ambalavaner Sivanandan is used on the track Colour Line on the Community Music album put out in 2000 by Asian Dub Foundation.

I could review this album, but that would be redundant, as I agree with a review already. All I will say is ditto. What is clear is that electronica of this variety follows the rap traditions, so it has lyrics galore.

Well, after singing about it for years, The Crash did come.

NEGATIVLAND: culture jamming as music

Going further with sampling, the group Negativland is known for sound collages. They have been around since 1979. Certainly not geared towards a top 40 audience, the avant garde style reminds me of a novelty record. It gets my attention because it it so out there that it makes me think (WTF?) and laugh. And that's the point.

One album put out by them, Dispepsi is based on advertisements by Pepsi and Coca-Cola that they put into a new context with odd results. But perhaps the most interesting work the group did was to manipulate, not samples, but the entire corporate media:

“...Following the somewhat unexpected success of this album (Escape from Noise), Negativland faced the prospect of going on a money-losing tour. To prevent this, they put together a press release. It insisted that the acts of an axe murderer named David Brom had not been incited by their song Christianity Is Stupid. There had never been any claim that the song had incited the act, however. The song contained samples deriding Christianity taken from the pro-Christianity film, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? 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.”-wikipedia.

Above: The Letter U and the Numeral 2. This song received plenty of attention when it came out. The announcer, Casy Kasem goes into a fit of expletives in an off air recording, and is used in this track. On this network program American Top 40, Kasem was replaced by Ryan Seacrest in 2004.

Above: a video clip from the 2007 DVD Our Favorire Things....Just plain weird.

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