Negativland - Escape From Noise (1980)

"When the universe ends, it will sound like Escape From Noise. You and I and perhaps the human race will almost certainly been long wiped from the face of existence, but were we there to see the stars that dazzled our sky dissolving, to see planets shattered to dust and spectacular nebulae strand limply apart, we might comment that it all seems vaguely familiar, that somehow we have been readied for this moment. In the very dying seconds of time, you will hear a voice croon, "Yellow and Black And Rectangular", and you will know you can have no regrets for existence. The very function of the universe has been satisfied, its goal attained. We have the perfect artistic artifact, immutable and unable to be erased now it has been created. What else is there to accomplish? The closing of the universal curtain is nothing in scope or beauty, compared to Escape From Noise.

The album is both galactic in ambition and atomic in focus. Everything Escape From Noise is made of, every aching note and crooned lyric, seemed trained on a single instantaneous emotion, not even fully expressed but only felt in a fraction of a second. What causes this brief but aching chasm of emotion we are left to guess. Perhaps it has no impetus; perhaps it is the moment of our birth, or the birth of the universe itself. What we do know is that this moment leaves behind an entire hour of rhapsodic decay, as the energies unleashed with agonizing glory conflict, detonate and annihilate with one another, eventually reaching a worn and fragile equilibrium, an equilibrium that acknowledges its own position at the periphery of existence, on the verge of petering out to nothing altogether, and leaving no trace of the spectacular atrocity that has just taken place. Negativland stops the camera before this dissolution, capturing the penultimate stage of art before it becomes synonymous with void. In doing so, they carve an eternal, immutable relic to the whole, grand, awful affair that just transpired, and passed the beauty on to us to behold.

Instruments slide in and out of concert throughout Escape From Noise, and by the fifth or sixth track you will not sure which elates or terrifies you more. When rolling through the same groove, the disparate musical elements gain a frightening, ferocious energy. They ring like death knells, or like the harmony of an oncoming tsunami, improbably large, beautiful and terminal both to itself and you, the spectator. You might fear for the safety of your headphones, or your soul. As the notes begin to slide apart, rip at the seams and hold, briefly, before unfurling with the same energy, you will find yourself in the rapture of mayhem and at the same time hoping it will stop. Negativland's power, even at its most dissonant and fractured, is almost too great, too majestic and mind rending to stand. The clashes of notes, like two fires each trying to consume the other, slides effortlessly back into harmony, and you are left wondering exactly what it is you just heard. The intensity takes a delicate course, and every second you will fear the band will go awry, misplacing one note, one sound, one silence for too long and the entire album will be desecrated. It never happens. The frailty of their majesty is matched only by the ease with which they seem to preserve it from harm. It is delicate and exhausted, but also roaring with a raw, elemental energy of the very stars. If there is one suitable relic to the human race, it is Escape From Noise."

6 Responses so far.

  1. jc says:

    oh i just saw the pic and got it

    lol p4k

  2. Moshi says:

    Since I read their Endtroducing review it took me a while to get the joke.

  3. this is nise makes my bowels danse

    captcha sez ratio

  4. jc says:

    this was fucking awful

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