You may or may not laugh at a man with a bullhorn, advising you that ¡§Communism Is Good! Communism is good!¡¨. I laughed pretty hard.
The jokes here are subtle and sort of accidental, relying on surprising edits and strange juxtapositionings. Negativland takes found sound and splices it together. The result is not exactly pure bliss. I would say this album is, by turns, tedious, surprising, amusing, confusing, senseless, coherent, and clever.
A child sings Somewhere Over The Rainbow but with the hiccups. A punk folksinger plays a song with a one word, charmless chorus ¡§CARBOMB!¡¨ screamed at the top of his lungs. A cold-war era segment of a call in radio show gets paranoid about Russia, pointing out that it has 13 time zones. A very slick voice over introduces a song which has been perfectly engineered to be a hit, pre-formulated for instant success across a wide range of demographics (and what a song it is!). There's a commercial for a beautiful suburb you can move to that's full of sycamores and...handguns.
I wish I could know where the sounds come from. They record random broadcasts from CB, AM and short wave for starters but there are also home recordings from what seem to be strangers. Do they buy these at garage sales? Who knows, maybe someone you know is on this album!
Their cut and paste effect reminds me of a friend who sometimes takes letters I send her and composes a reply entirely from the phrases of my own letter. Back comes my own letter, recognizable in parts, but totally put through a blender. Why do this? Why create a work of art that's just a mangling of someone elses words? Because the result is a surprising and strange poem, occasionally clever and beautiful, but often even better, meaningless and beautiful.
This is not a music album, though it does contain some music. It is a sound collage that bears repeated listening. Recommended if you like the Firesign Theater radio drama LPs.