the teen-pop-noise virus



2008 CD

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“The results are hilarious and eye opening all at once, with top 40 type tunes completely flayed by digital noise.” —Nitewise

“ of the most absurd albums of all-time..” — Fanatic

“These crazy Californians have complied an album of songs that is truly profound and unique.” — Pensantos

“Charted to #11 on the CMJ RPM charts.” —CMJ


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


Seeland Records is pleased to present The Teen-Pop-Noise Virus, one of the most absurd albums of all-time by Poptastic. The music, like the band itself, was spawned from the warped minds of experimental producers Chris Fitzpatrick and Thomas Dimuzio. At the core of their debut release are twelve intricately mangled songs, but in the spaces between, there is much more.

Fitzpatrick assembled Poptastic as a coed "boy-band," conjuring the spirit of Lou Perlman, who manned the helm of the millennial teen-pop wave. Accordingly, Fitzpatrick wrote and performed pop music and enlisted random friends to sing the sappy break-up-to-make-up lyrics he wrote in an imagined teenaged perspective. Once complete, the process had really only begun, and the production team of Dimuzio and Fitzpatrick set out to obsessively destroy the album masters with electronic effects until the music sounded as if a virus had infected the studio. Although the producers suggest the album still vaguely resembles the original, all of the original masters have been destroyed; only the remix remains.

Poptastic's alien sound has found a welcome home at Seeland Records. Influenced by and aligned with the spirit of Negativland's music and philosophy, Poptastic has applied similar methodologies to itself. Poptastic was created for the sole purpose of sampling itself into a collage-a version of a version of something unknown and inaccessible.

Poptastic's basic concept is accessible and humorous, yet buried in the layers of sound is a complex web of mixing, remixing, editing, re-editing, arranging, and de-arranging that continues to reveal something new with each listen. It was also designed so that in CD shuffle play, only the "hits" play, yet when in continuous linear play, the entire album is a single interwoven work; the spaces in between songs are arenas in which fragmented elements of each song collide and blend discordantly. Fitzpatrick explains, "We are finding that people are not as confused by the music as by why they find themselves listening again and again." With a smile, Dimuzio sums up the entire project, "Poptastic is just plain wrong."


These crazy Californians have complied an album of songs that is truly profound and unique –but wait, that’s not what they intended to do? Poptastic’s mission statement (as found on their Myspace page): ‘Poptastic was created for the sole purpose of sampling itself into a collage—a version of a version of something unknown and inaccessible’–and the only way you’ll know how absolutely true this statement is would be to listen to the train wreck of irreverent sounds found in Teen-Pop-Noise Virus.

The album is rank with irony all the way from the title of the album straight to the actual substance of each song. Irony is a dish best served in Literature. But people still attempt to get away with it in art, music and fashion –some succeed, most do not. When will the Irony Age in pop culture end? I know it won’t end with Poptastic but eventually people will once again demand their music to be reverent, sincere and substantial.  Besides all that nonsense –the album actually is mildly entertaining but just when you start to open yourself up to this experience, the bottom falls out of the song (see ‘Hold Me’) and your left holding one shoe in your hand searching for words to describe your disappointment. There could possibly be a Lisa Loeb sample in ‘I Think of You’ but it’s hard to tell because it is so complexly layered and lined with samples exploding into all oddities of sound; it’s hard to make any one thing out at any one time. And then there’s ‘Torn Photo and a Broken Heart’ which is roughly a ten-minute opus with five minutes or so of white noise fading in and out (and in and out) just long enough to make you want to throw your ipod in the Chicago River. Perhaps this is the desired effect? Although I do believe that Poptasic crafted a stylishly clever jab at the pop music they’re so desperately making fun of –they did it in such an unattainable, indigestible format rendering it impossible to enjoy. But then again, that was the intended purpose all along –in essence, to create a shitty album that no one wants to listen to… Mission Accomplished!

The concept of Poptastic, simply put, is that ‘I-will-make-fun-of-industry-standards-by-ironically-going-way-over-the-top’ effect (see Reggie and the Full Effect). The musical backbone of Poptastic is equivalent to Trent Reznor taking a Moog and beating the shit out of the guy from Girl Talk while God Speed You Black Emperor joins in with a Canadian circle-jerk–‘Ladies and gentlemen, Teen-Pop-Noise Virus –enjoy’.