Negativland No Business

[Seeland; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: culture jamming, sound collage
Others: The Books, Firesign Theatre

Negativland. Are you familiar with them? If so, you probably have a good idea of what to expect out of this release. That might be a little unfair, but, well, they have a distinctive style that this release doesn't deviate terribly far from. If you're not familiar with them, then you probably should be.

Negativland are some of the most prominent and widely respected "culture jammers" in the world today. Culture jamming is the cooption of existing media to critique, satirize, or parody the very condition that propagates it. Most generally, but not by definition, culture jamming runs in opposition to the mainstream mass media, and Negativland is no exception to this rule of thumb. Anti-consumerist messages abound in this field, such as Negativland's landmark release Dispepsi, which criticizes the beverage industry (duh) in and of itself, and as a standard bearer for the consumer-culture pandemic in the first world. As was implied above, found objects (sounds) are imperative to the process of culture jamming, whether it be attaching gum wrappers to your canvas or sampling the commercials pushing that gum. And we all know what's happening with the RIAA and its growing war on illegal usage of their properties.

This brings us up to No Business, an extravagant polemic railing against the actions and stances of the powers that be in regards to fair use of cultural artifacts, and more specifically, music. Included with the musical artifact is a text and a... um, found object (whoopee cushion). The text covers the issue of how mankind has, currently does, and how it someday may deal with intellectual property rights. They lay out very concisely the contrarian state of events; but while I personally didn't find it terribly groundbreaking, it was an enjoyable read and could be incredibly persuasive to your less savvy friends. But how about the music? To explicate the Negativland aesthetic, it's the inspired and incredibly clever use of sound collage, as you may have guessed. Here, there are two crystal clear salvoes on the music industry, one on religion, and one other on pesky diner proprietors. While you may be able to guess at the general tone and message contained, you'd just do better to give this baby a listen. I don't know the last time an album made me laugh so much. The music won't knock you on your ass, but the overall delivery is a real treat, if you go in for this sort of thing.

1. Old Is New
2. No Business
3. Downloading
4. Favorite Things
5. God Bull
6. Keep Rollin'
7. Piece a Pie
8. New Is Old
9. No Business Again
10. Gimme the Mermaid