Negativland was asked to be guest editor of MAGNET this week, which poses a challenge to such a large collective of members with extremely disparate tastes and obsessions. Members Peter Conheim and Mark Hosler came forward to share what’s been on their minds lately and, indeed, what’s informed their thoughts and work over the years. The group’s new album is entitled It’s All In Your Head and, being entirely about faith, monotheism and why humans believe in God, comes packaged inside of an actual King James Bible. And while religion and intolerance are posing the biggest and toughest dilemmas facing the world today—well, excepting that climate business—Negativland will focus instead this week on such things as sounds, pictures and books. And the impending death of everything due to digital technology.
Peter Conheim: Some music is more universal than the Beatles. Perrey And Kingsley‘s 1966 magnum opus LP on Vanguard Records, The In Sound From Way Out!, is the most universally loved record of all time. This record has bound people together. This record delights tots and senior citizens alike. This record cannot be disliked. In fact, in some countries, it’s illegal to express dislike for this record. And it was a huge commercial success for something that is front-loaded with incredibly bizarre-sounding quarter-inch tape loops and impossible-to-quantify noises, amidst the happiest (and yet, least cloying, least saccharine-sounding) pop songs ever written.
Indeed, this writer’s personal connection to this LP goes back to childhood: It was often on the turntable at the Berkeley nursery school I attended, and for my fifth birthday, the kindly teacher from the school presented me with a stereo copy of the album (there’s a mono version, too, in an entirely different and arguably less psychotic mix). But like a fool, I traded the prized LP to my friend, Zak Best, in third grade, for a worn copy of the Beatles’ Help. That was in 1976, and spent literally the next 15 years trying to re-locate it in a pre-internet age. I didn’t know the artists’ name, only the title. Eventually, through an overpriced record collector, I was able to replace it.
Good thing I did, because when first introduced to Mark Gergis, with whom I would found the group Mono Pause/Neung Phak in 1993, the first time he came over to my house we engaged in conversation about records that had influenced us as children. He said—and only said—a version of the following: “There’s an LP I used to listen to as a child that I loved but never had a copy of” and that a mutual friend suggested it might be something I’d have. I walked over to my collection. I pulled out The In Sound From Way Out!, looked him square in the eye, and asked, “Is this the record?” It was.
This duo only made one more LP before splitting up, but its legend was cemented here. Try not to like it.
Video after the jump.