Tuesday, 6 May, 2008

180 D'Gs to the Future: The Music of Negativland (2007)

This is an absolutely jaw-dropping collection of Negativland songs covered by a 5-or-6 piece a cappella group. Every sample is sung, every um and er is included. And it's mindblowing, even if you're not familiar with Negativland.
Formerly the Singing Minnicks, David and his brothers Chris, Don, Mark, Peter and Dick Minnick started out singing in their church and at neighborhood concerts. In 2001, however, their direction changed when David found a copy of Negativland's LP Points in their pastor, Rev. Al "Sugar" Sweet's trailer. Rev. Sweet helped the group to become what we now know as the 180 Gs. After selling out concerts all over their hometown of Detroit, they went to The Closet studios run by Sophocles Jones and recorded their first singles.

Negativland heard these recordings and contacted the Gs to put out their first full-length record on their own Seeland label.

And remember, every number is 180; every letter is G.

Have the 180 Gs ever attempted a Negativland song that you just couldn't get to work?
David Minnick: Yeah, we had a few of those. We could have gotten them to work (in my opinion) but everyone just got impatient. For example: I had written out a transcription of "Potty Air" from Points, but while recording it, a few of the guys felt too silly reading through 5 minutes of fart noises to continue. I had to scrap it to keep a few of the guys from walking off the project (even though it took me over 100 hours of tedious work to transcribe it accurately)... I HOPE YOU'RE READING THIS DON AND PETER!! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN COOL!!!
There were a few other songs ("Oven Noises", "The Playboy Channel") that we nearly gave up on. Whenever we were close to giving up, we'd remember Dad's last words to us, as he walked out the front door for the last time: "Don't give up." We'd collect ourselves, and get back to work. Dad also told me: "If ya get lost, you might have taken a wrong turn a few miles back. Just walk backwards a few miles and then walk forwards down another path and you might not be lost anymore." I had no idea what he meant by all of that, until we had to scrap our first recording of "Oven Noises" and start over. The final result was much better, but it was painful to just throw away 2 months of work. It took a long time, but we eventually got arrangements that we were satisfied with for the songs we wanted.

Do you find that Negativland songs from a particular era (the earlier, more experimental based stuff versus the more song-based stuff of the later records) work better in an 180 Gs arrangement?
David Minnick: That's really impossible to say because the entire concept of turning Negativland pieces into a cappella vocal arrangements doesn't (or shouldn't) work. Each song on 180 d'Gs to the Future was as difficult as the next. The more experimental, or speech-based pieces demanded that we make up our own melodies/harmonies while still being faithful to the original. In addition, the absence of regular rhythmic patterns in the original pieces meant that we had sing a lot of complicated, irrational rhythms AND not get lost. Our job, however, was to give these pieces a natural, funky "flow". The more song-like pieces demanded that we come up with arrangements that went BEYOND the original so that we weren't just doing straight cover versions. There was really no easy way to do this record and make it hold together.

While doing a bit of research for this interview, I discovered that you can buy Mp3s of the 180 Gs album from Amazon using Pepsi Points -- what do you think about that?
David Minnick: Personally, I think that's just fine. I happen to like Pepsi a lot better than Coke anyway. However, I haven't gotten any Pepsi points yet. I guess it's a good thing I've got the master tapes of the 180 Gs album.

Why is Dick Minnick not pictured on the album sleeve? David Minnick: If we're talking about Dick, I'll have to back into history a little bit: Dick (aside from his incessant theremin playing and his occasional violent temper) was just like the rest of us. We'd sing, we'd play music, we'd joke around, we'd argue from time to time... he was just one of us. Other people had told us that there was something wrong with him (being the 4th Minnick triplet) but we didn't see it.

Read the full interview here.

1. Intro (Everything's Going Fine) (from "Negativland")
2. Christianity Is Stupid (from "Escape From Noise")
3. Helter Stupid (excerpt from "Helter Stupid")
4. Greatest Taste Around (from "Dispepsi")
5. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (from "U2")
6. Car Bomb (from "Escape From Noise")
7. A Nice Place to Live (from "Points")
8. Seat Bee Sate (from "Negativland")
9. The Playboy Channel (from "Escape From Noise")
10. I Am God (from "Free")
11. Roy Storey Sports Line (from OTE Vol. 4: "Dick Vaughn's Moribund Music of the 70's")
12. Oven Noises (from OTE Vol. 6 - "The Willsaphone Stupid Show")
13. Theme From a Big 10-8 Place (Live) (from "A Big 10-8 Place")

The 180 G's are:
Chris Minnick, Don Minnick, Mark Minnick, Peter Minnick, Dick Minnick, David Minnick
Produced by Leonardo De Vinci Knight & D'Andre Xavier Jones
Engineered by Sophocles Jones
Released by Seeland in 2007.



Anonymous said...

ha-ha, hahaha - ehm, i mean: g-g, ggg! ;)

bravo juju said...

What will you have? Coke or Pepsi?

Matt said...

I'm still picking my jaw up from when I first heard this stuff.

Nice to see you spreading the word.

Zer0_II said...

I love Negativland. I can't say that I'm very fond of a capella but I'll give this a try simply because you made a very convincing case for this album. Thanks for making it available. Take care.


Ploni said...

Acapella is just about my favorite thing aside from OTE and all things Negativland.

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