Those pranksters from Negativland are at it again: they’re set to release a DVD/CD set, with the DVD consisting of visuals to accompany the band’s “greatest hits” and the CD…well, to quote from the promo e-mail: “a truly silly and bizarre 50-minute bonus CD of 100% acapella versions of Negativland’s work by The 180 Gs, a five-person black acapella group from Detroit, that has endeavored to ‘cover’ Negativland’s cut up collage work in R ‘n B, Doo-Wop, and Gospel styles.”
This being Negativland, I would consider it advisable to withhold judgment on the accuracy of that bio…especially given a look at the 180 Gs’ myspace page, wherein they are portrayed by various action figures. I note also the name of the town the band is supposedly from: it’s a real town, but it has the same name as the Minnesota town where the murder took place that inspired Negativland’s Incredible “Helter Stupid” Media Adventure. Finally – in a truly curious coincidence – the band’s five brothers appear to have the same first names as the members of Negativland. What, I wonder, are the odds of that?
Anyway, I’ll admit that I’m very curious indeed to hear anyone try to cover, in any style at all, “Car Bomb” or “The Playboy Channel.” Instead, the cover of “Christianity Is Stupid” is the first mp3 available – all I can say is, listen to it. Here’s Negativland’s original for comparison.
The absurdly bizarre stylistic transformation of this cover (less bizarre with this particular track, which features a “preacher” in the first place) reminded me of a CD of covers I picked up a couple of years ago. The style is medieval, the words are in Latin, and the source…well, I’ll let you figure that out yourself. Listen to “Symptoma mundi” by Rondellus.
(Incidentally, all this reminds me of a project I really wished someone had done years ago: in the wake of Devo doing its own quasi-muzak versions of its songs, I thought: why not do a real, old-school, Mantovani-type set of arrangements of The Residents – and hire an actual, old-school, Mantovani-type arranger to do it? You’d have to keep the bizarre harmonies and melodies – but I think slathering a zillion strings, cooing female choirs, and the like atop those avant-primitive Residents compositions would have been a brilliant idea.)