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3 Negativland Songs That Will Fuck Your Head

A collage featuring the album covers from Negativland's Free, Dispepsi, and Escape from Noise

The 90s were a weird time. The internet and digital media were still in their adolescence. These new frontiers saw a rough transition as far as ownership and usage rights were concerned.

But no one was fucking the regime of copyright quite like Negativland. A band of sampling artists, Negativland creates audio collages from advertisements, movies, TV shows, and a variety of other sources.

Avowedly communist, Negativland took on the major labels after being sued by the management of U2 for putting out a single titled U2. Following the trial, the pair released an album titled The Letter U and the Numeral 2 documenting the trial in their own weird way.

1. The Greatest Taste Around

Far and away the most listenable track off of my favorite of their albums Dispepsi, The Greatest Taste Around is a sing songy ditty with lyrics juxtaposing soft drink obsession with the horrors of puppy mills, house fires, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The song is made all the more disturbing with the samples that pepper the space between lines. We're treated to excerpts from the boardroom scenes from Mommy Dearest as well as the more ecstatic portions of soft drink ads.

This song is exemplary of the vibe of the remainder of the album. The album, released in 1997, was a commentary on the Cola Wars, a series of escalating advertising gambits undertaken by Coke and Pepsi including the Pepsi Challenge and New Coke. The album uses decades of soft drink ads, news spots, and more to paint an audio tapestry critiquing the corporate greed and environmental devastation of soft drink production.

2. Christianity Is Stupid

If Negativland is known for one song, it's probably this one. The 14th track off of Escape from Noise, this track is a hilarious exercise in selective editing.

The vibe is kind of industrial with droning, distorted guitars driving the track. The lyrics are composed of samples of a sermon delivered by Estus Pirkle.

In all likelihood, he didn't expect to be caught saying "Christianity is stupid! Communism is good!" over and over on a soundtrack of heavy metal guitars.

To promote the song, Negativland issued a fake press release claiming that their song had inspired Davie Brom to murder his religious parents. The hoax was picked up by a few major news outlets before being exposed.

3. The Gun and the Bible

I wish I could tell you what speech this song samples, but it is absolutely unhinged. This song is closer to what you can expect from Negativland than the other two songs.

Unlike the other two, there's not much of a beat to speak of. Instead, we're treated to a series of repeating ambient samples topped with a bizarre speech about the gun and the bible carving this nation out of the wilderness.

I'm gonna be honest, I've never put this album on to play through. I have no idea how I came across this song really. It's not one of their particularly popular songs. Maybe I got it off Limewire and got their discography later? That's the only explanation I have for having their 2019 "True or False" despite having listened to this group since I was in high school.


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