Negativland, Escape from Noise

Michael Azerrad

By Michael Azerrad

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Classic ’80s political satire and pioneering sampledelica

Here's political satire and pioneering sampledelica from the veteran band of merry Bay Area pranksters, eighteen meditations on an increasingly vexing question: "Is there any escape from noise?" The concept embraces all manner of interference — glitches on cable TV, a bee in a can of soda, a hiccuping child — and it's surprisingly profound — Escape from Noise actually makes an apt companion to social theorist Jacques Attali's classic Noise: The Political Economy of Music. With its found sound collage usually perched atop very '80s sequenced rhythm tracks, it's somewhat dated — "Time Zones" is a Cold War relic and "Car Bomb" is not so funny anymore, but the infamous "Christianity Is Stupid" and pokes at corporate radio (the eerie "Quiet Please"), handgun owners, the music industry ("Michael Jackson"), and nuclear power (the bracing "You Don't Even Live Here") are more relevant than ever. Listen for the Residents ("hoots and clanging") and Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart ("mouth sounds" and "processed animals").