Any edge will do for over.

by waxbanks

Been listening to a new discovery, the Over the Edge radio show — a Negativland ‘side project’ of sorts, though it predates host Don Joyce’s involvement with the band — which ran for decades(!) on Bay Area radio. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, the closest I got to weird late-night radio was Loveline, so Over the Edge has hit me with the force of revelation: a freeform improvisatory collage of musical fragments, movie dialogue, borrowed radio clips, the sonic bric-a-brac favoured by weirdo DJs and audiophiles everywhere, and the show’s most distinctive feature, a wide-open phone line policy which allowed unscreened callers unprecedented freedom and influence over the show’s direction. The effect is a powerful aural psychotropic — listening late at night can produce lingering auditory hallucinations. Trust me.

Wish I’d known about this show a year ago! It’d have been an ideal topic for chapter 2 of the Phish book, which touches on the antirationalist cultural strain(s) known as ‘High Weirdness,’ but which, being an analogical digression in an overlong introductory chapter of a 32,000-word book, can’t exactly go into much detail.

Over the last two or three days I’ve listened to seven and a half hours of this extraordinarily dense show: the 1988 ‘Psychedelia’ episode, which trades in both ‘psychedelic’ 60s music and a more loose-limbed cable-era take on its subject (‘I have a feeling your drivers have not been installed; check your configuration and get back to us,’ apropos of nothing); the 90-minute ‘UFO Show’ from April 1982, which weaves Art Bell snippets and a fantastic LP (from Disney?) based on von Daniken’s ancient-astronauts books into a wittily creepy short (‘short’!) subject; and best of all, the November 1994 Blade Runner Remix,’, which runs Vangelis’s then newly released and long-awaited complete score under most or all of the dialogue from the film to haunting effect. Characters speak to one another — and to themselves — across scenes, the sonic texture of the of the film grows more and more dense, and somehow this most visually rich science fiction text comes fully alive through pure sound, acquiring (through repetition and recontextualization) the verse/chorus/bridge rhythms of an old song and drifting finally into dream and dissolution.

Fellow Blade Runner fans absolutely must seek out the Remix episode — but I’ve yet to hear a bad or boring hour of the show, and I look forward to sampling widely from the 900+ episodes(!!!!) available at archive.org. Indeed, 1994’s likely illegal ‘The Sample Show’ is weirding me out right this instant.

If you’re looking for the perfect audio accompaniment to your next trip — inner or outer — look no further. Highly, passionately recommended.

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