Friday, October 31, 2008

NEGATIVLAND - "Points" (1981)

Contra Costa County, CA

"Negativland's second album — and final one before Joyce became a full-time member — found the band's ambitions and compositional range increasing in due measure, if still not quite up to where A Big 10-8 Place and after would lead them. That such a young band would be not merely content but inspired to try and twist as many recording conventions as possible to suit their own purposes — especially years before home computers and software made such manipulation incredibly easy — deserves credit alone. The trio's various sonic collage and Krautrock inspirations still hold sway in many places, ranging from rhythmic chimes slicing through a song mix to more random vocal sample/noise combinations (check out "Dear Mary" for a prime example). Meanwhile, the definition of what a "song" is itself is again tested more often than not. The themes of a fractured, not entirely whole suburbia again hold sway — "A Nice Place to Live" and its juxtaposition of boosterish news reports and dark synth is a fine example — and are further captured in part due to some inspired guest appearances. Wills' mother and aunt duet on accordion and singing for "Harry to the Ferry" — though most of the song is in fact a rather insanely chopped up recording of the process of taping said piece — while Hosler's own mother turns up with "kitchen noises" on the piano/synth improv "Clutch Cargo '81." A couple of the group's most straightforward compositions take a bow on Points, like the home organ bop of "The Answer Is..." (featuring a stuttering Ronald Reagan snippet, first of many politicized digs at the '80s state of mind). The credit list for the album alone is worthy of interest, with the three main members listed as playing, among other things, oven grill, puppies, parakeets, and a banana chair." -Ned Raggett

A1 Harry to the Ferry 2:54
A2 The Answer Is... 4:28
A3 Scolding Box 5:25
A4 That Darn Keet 1:55
A5 Dear Mary 1:49
A6 "Clutch Cargo `81" 3:47
B1 BABAC D'BABC... 5:07
B2 A Nice Place to Live 2:52
B3 A Bee Fly 0:55
B4 No Hands 2:17
B5 Potty Air 5:56

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