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Helter Stupid

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Album Review

After the relative success of 1987's Escape From Noise album, studio project Negativland found itself in the strange position of being expected to go on a money-losing tour. To get out of the tour, the band cooked up a phony press release linking their song "Christianity Is Stupid" to a multiple murder, claiming that federal officials had told the band not to leave town. This prank quickly spiraled out of control, with many media sources taking their news from each other instead of reality. This media circus became the basis for the first half of the album Helter Stupid, which deconstructs the media, the controversy, and sensationalism. Although the root of all of this material is perhaps ethically questionable, "Helter Stupid" is a brilliant lampoon of the media and makes the listener question just what is being fed to them as "information." Filling out the album is a series of "Perfect Cut" tracks, which meld together tons of singles from the '70s and then get Negativland audio blender treatment. Although the songs have their moments, they're not really enough to sustain half an album, especially after such a good start.

Customer Reviews

Genius

If you are even remotely interested in experimental music, you must get to know Negativeland. Negativland is amazing, and this is a great place to start. The sound collage technique on helter stupid is executed brilliantly, with lots of layers and cross-referencing samples to sort through...definitely rewards many repeated listenings. Helter Stupid is a brilliant comment on the hysteria surrounding the music industry in the 80's, especially regarding heavy metal and teen violence and suicide...but they also reference 60's phenomenon with Manson and his Beatles obsession not only with the album's title but in the content as well...and really this material is timeless...and the fact that they work in their own media manipulation they instigated by claiming their song "Christianity Is Stupid" (from the album Escape From Noise) was responsible for an actual axe-murder case just brings the whole thing to an entire new level...lots of recursion in this piece, the media referencing itself and the culture it creates....these guys were way ahead of their time to say the least. And the Perfect Cut tracks are just a goofy bonus, fun cut-ups of 70's corporate radio culture...silly but entertaining. But Helter Stupid itself is pure genius.

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Some will always say that practical jokers should expect retribution at some point. Others may note that within any joke there is some human truth. Still others will just want to enjoy the jokes as jokes and nothing more. Three differing statements, all valid truths when applied to one of America's most curious, clever, and inventive bands in the last 20 years of the 20th century and beyond, Negativland. Though named after a track by cult Krautrock band Neu!, who also inadvertently provided the moniker...
Full Bio
Helter Stupid, Negativland
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