Negativland by Skylaire Alfvegren

Negativland

Presents Over the Edge Volume 3: The Weatherman's Dumb Stupid Come-Out Line

The Bay Area has a leg up on L.A. with few things. More leg hair, yes, but an even amount of nightmarishly boring radio. But Berkeleyites can wave KPFA-FM in our suntanned faces, which has played host to weekly transmissions from cut-n-paste culture bandits Negativland since 1981.

In 1984, Negativland began releasing their favorite episodes of "Over the Edge"  on cassette, which have been re-released on CD as time and money allows. They're as individual as scabs, just like each show's host: listen as defrocked Pastor Dick gets drunk on the air(Muriel's Purse Fund), President Reagan's second inaugural address gets ripped (Jamcon '84), and the Weatherman's family engage in  eerily mundane Yuletide behavior (The Willsaphone Stupid Show). All feature a live, spontaneous Negativland mix throughout!

The Weatherman, cable installer by day, electro-dadaist by night, smarms listeners into "coming out of their homosexual closets" on this broadcast, but elicits calls from Frisco faghags and Sacramento rednecks instead. It's silly--but then men who have sex with their oscillators generally are.

The music bulges in and out, like other people's eyeballs when you're on LSD. AOR cowpatties become mystical, melting messages; bellowing, anti-gay preachers sound exceptionally pathetic and the emotional and musical swells of the Weatherman's coffee break are Wagnerian in their intensity.

Negativland are known for using uncleared samples in their musical commentaries, which is legal under copyright law's "fair use" clause (which states it's legal to reproduce pieces of copyrighted music in your own if yours is remarking on the copyrighted material). Recently, The Recording Industry Association of America issued a memo to pressing plants warning them of lawsuits should they press CDs containing uncleared material. The  plants assumed this included samples, and FIVE of them refused Come Out Line until the RIAA added a "fair use" stipulation to their guidelines, thanks to pressure from Negativland supporters.

But unlike proper Negativland releases (Dispepsi,  U2) which bask in waterfalls of "borrowed" music, the samples on Come-Out Line are wallpaper. They compete with snippets of instructional LPs, squeaky toy harassment, a morose dialtone and the voices of callers run through reverb and/or echo.

Gay, straight or undecided, the Weatherman's disjointed jabbering and spontaneous wisdom is sure to entertain. Just remember: "Don't say Hom-A --it's Hom-O. Say it slowly, enunciate every syllable."

(Skylaire Alfvegren)







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