One of my all-time top 5 favorite albums ever recorded is Telecommunication Breakdown by Emergency Broadcast Network. EBN’s schtick was remixing video sources to techno beats, basically popularizing the mash-up a decade before it got popular.
Their video releases were pure capital-G Genius but could get tedious quickly. The best example of that is the original version of “Get Down”, which combined Harrison Ford from Patriot Games, a Mariah Carey screech, and a Dan Rather clip to the beat of “Jungle Boogie,” a brilliant concept which becomes annoying after about 20 seconds. What made Telecommunication Breakdown a highlight is that they had the guy from Meat Beat Manifesto remix a lot of the tracks, to make them work as satire and music.
They got a burst of popularity in the early 90s after their version of “We Will Rock You” was used in one of U2’s concert tours. As is usual for me, I got into them right as they were breaking up, so for years I’ve been stuck with a video, one amazing album, and three QuickTime clips that were included on the CD, hinting at something much greater but that I would never ever see. You can’t really appreciate how clever the music is until you see it with the video sources.
So today it finally dawned on me to check YouTube, and you won’t believe how excited I was to find more videos. This one is the Telecommunication Breakdown track called “You Have Five Seconds To Complete This Section,” and I nearly wet myself when I saw it’d finally been made available online.
It’s just awesome. (And I have to agree with one of the commenters; that does look an awful lot like Jane Lynch.)
More quicktime videos are available from Joshua Pearson’s website, under EBN Archives. You can also do a search on YouTube for “Emergency Broadcast Network” to see lower-quality versions. My favorites: Syncopated Ordinance Demonstration, 3:7:8, Psychoactive Drugs, and eMediatainment (a new one!)
EBN’s finest moment, though, and what made me a lifelong fan, is “Electronic Behavior Control System.” The version up on YouTube & Pearson’s site is edited from a live performance, so it’s not quite as cool as the one that was included on the CD. Still, it’s probably the most brilliant music video ever made:
EDIT: The semi-live version I linked to has been removed since I first wrote this post. The original is up on YouTube at the moment, though, and it’s as brilliant as it was 15 years ago.