Nitewise Review: The Teen Pop-Noise Virus

Sometimes I feel that we SF Bay Area residents neglect some of the local talent in our frantic search for the newest, coolest thing from the east coast or Europe. However, as long time residents like me attest, there’s plenty of talent in this here town here. And San Francisco being the quirky enclave that it is, some of this talent is off the beaten path, leftfield and rather unusual. One such reservoir of demented flair is Negativland’s Seeland record label.

These local noiseniks, who started out in Concord, are famous for the kerfuffle they caused in the early ‘90s with their U2/Casey Kasem sampling “U2” EP. Never ones to shy away from controversy or the looming shadow of the law, they have continued to question copyright and other aspects of consumer society. And for proof of this check out last year’s DVD collection of some of their classics, all set to exceptionally creative computer animation and sly edits of existing newsreel. This item is called Our Favorite Things and is available from their label’s store — check the link below — or you could rent it from a discerning movie place in the city.

And while you’re in the midst of doing all that you could also look into acquiring the latest release on the Seeland imprint, a project by Negativland friends and sometime co-conspirators Thomas Dimuzio and Chris Fitzpatrick, under the Poptastic monicker. The album is called The Teen-Pop-Noise Virus and it’s an insane collection of syrupy ‘make up, break up’ style pop ditties completely deconstructed by music production software.

The results are hilarious and eye opening all at once, with top 40 type tunes completely flayed by digital noise. Another interesting aspect of it is, if the CD is set to shuffle mode it plays the “hits,” but in its normal, continuous function it plays as one interwoven work. So if you feel you are beaten down by the endless parade of sugary, throw away garbage that masquerades as pop these days then Poptastic’s demented little opus is as good a way as any to wreak revenge — vicariously that is — on the machine that spews out this mindless drivel. And all of this made possible by lovely folks living in the Bay Area. Now isn’t that special?

And aren’t I out? —Orr