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When nature calls: Pay a visit to the bathroom full of living spiders
05.22.2018
09:00 am
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If you have a fear of spiders, cave critters, creepy-crawlies, or maybe even restrooms, then, I guess this one’s not for you.

This could be Peter Parker’s bathroom. Or maybe Arachne’s. Or possibly the john of one of those half-human-half-arachnid kinda creatures born out some nuclear catastrophe. I suppose most people are just shaking their heads right now and saying “Uh-uh. No way am I going to drop a deuce anywhere near these eight-legged freaks in case they crawl up my butt.” I guess we can agree this is an unusual bathroom,

These photographs first appeared on Facebook post headed “Such a cool bathroom idea!!!” As you might surmise, this was on a page for those with a liking for insects, bugs, and spiders. The bathroom is (apparently) functional although it has been decked out to house several whip spiders or tailless whip scorpions—or amblypygi which is “an ancient order of arachnid chelicerate arthropods.” These amblypygi have eight legs but only use six for walking. The front two are used as “antennae-like feelers, with many fine segments giving the appearance of a ‘whip’.” They have pincer-like chelicerae which are used to hold and grind prey before digestion. They have eight eyes, are non-venomous to humans, and don’t weave webs. Some of you may recall seeing one of these critters on Ron Weasley’s head in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. They’re quite shy and harmless though maybe not the most comforting of things to find when, er, “spending a penny.”
 
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More toilet critters, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.22.2018
09:00 am
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‘Arf!’: The video variety show made for dogs
03.22.2018
10:22 am
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I wish I could take my dog everywhere with me. Recently, I ran into a man on the street protesting our local 7-Eleven. He claimed that the popular convenience store wasn’t “pet friendly” enough; that they wouldn’t allow his dog “Snowball” inside with him while he shopped. I don’t believe Snowball was fit to be a service dog or anything. It’s just nice to have the company every so often. And I’m sure our dogs would prefer the company, too.
 

 
I’m fairly certain that my dog Bella gets lonely when I’m not around. It really sucks to look her in the eyes before I leave the house. I mean, who knows what kind of crazy shit is going on inside her brain? There exist several remedies for pet separation anxiety and, in an age where we can have basically everything we want, there’s now a cable channel called DOGTV.
 
The concept is pretty self-explanatory. DOGTV is a 24/7 television network made exclusively for our canine friends. Designed by animal behavioral specialists, the station’s programming supports a dog’s natural everyday patterns with its original, ASPCA-approved content of three different categories: Relaxation, Stimulation, and Exposure. Each episodical segment is 3-6 minutes long and has been color-adjusted to appeal to a dog’s unique eyesight. Common everyday scenarios such as a visit to the park or a ride through town are accompanied by a soundtrack of healing frequencies, positive affirmations, and relaxing music. The programming is even considered educational. By use of gentle, low volume exposure, unfamiliar sounds are slowly introduced to the viewer, thereby “training” him or her to grow more comfortable. DOGTV has produced over 2,000 original programs to date, including The DOGTV Hour, which is intended to be enjoyed by pets with their owners. Honestly, I enjoy the dog programming much more than I do the human programming.
 

DOGTV ‘Stimulation’ Sample Episode

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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03.22.2018
10:22 am
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Filmmakers and felines: Jean Cocteau had a club for cat lovers!
01.10.2018
10:38 am
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If you like movies, then you probably have at least a passing familiarity with French director/artist Jean Cocteau. Maybe you picked up La Belle et la bête (1946) or Orphée (1950) during a half-price Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble. Maybe someone in film school made you watch Le Sang d’un Poète (1930) in some experimental film class and you thought: “What is this? This is some weird ass shit but…I like it! It’s definitely different than those other experimental guys. I might be able to get down with…what’s this dude’s name? Cocteau?”

Most cinephiles and culture vultures know the basics: Cocteau was French. He was gay. His social set was expansive, attracting everyone from Proust, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso to queer artists like Gertrude Stein, Jean Genet, and Marlene Dietrich. Basic knowledge is fine if that’s all you want, but Jean Cocteau is SO much more interesting. His art was hot, his writing was beautiful, he was controversial…but let’s get real: What makes this Frenchman unique?

He loved the hell out of cats and he was not afraid to let the world know it!

Cocteau was romantically involved with his lead actor, Jean Marais for over two decades. It’s unclear whether Marais also enjoyed cats so that part of their affair is still a mystery. We do know that Cocteau firmly supported his lover’s close relationship with the dog he saved during WWII, Muluk. 

Clearly, bringing Muluk on-set was no problem. Wonder if it was in his contract?
 

 
What is it they say—opposites attract? If that’s the case and if we place cats and dogs on the spectrum as polar opposites, then these two men probably had a banging sex life! While Marais, son of a veterinarian, was fond enough of his dog to take glamour shots with him and signed autographs on pictures that featured himself and Muluk together, Jean Cocteau was much more than your average cat guy. More than your average cat lady, even. Cocteau believed in felines.
 

Jean Cocteau illustrated this lovely book of poetry in 1962, ‘La dame aux Chats’ (The Lady with Cats).
 

 
One of the illustrations: the lady with the cats!
 

These days Jean Cocteau might even be more notable on the internet for his heavily meme-d quotes about cats than for his elegant film work.

1) “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”

2) “I prefer cats over dogs because police cats don’t exist.”

 

 
Cocteau made a great deal of art, but he made a lot of cat-related art. Not only is it vast and multi-faceted, spanning from sculpture to murals to sketch, it’s also extremely joyful. The Cocteau cats are a real treasure. 
 
Cocteau painted this in the local chapel near where he lived in Milly-la-Forêt, in 1959, where he wished to be buried (and was). It is still there.
 

As a cat lover, Cocteau shared his home with multiple feline companions. While not able to divine every furry friend’s name, two of his marvelous cats went by Madeline and Karoun. Cocteau was quite close with Karoun and nicknamed his furry buddy “King of Cats,” even dedicating a whole book to him! Lucky cat!
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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01.10.2018
10:38 am
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Humongous statues of cats wearing helmets
01.03.2018
10:28 am
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Kenji Yanobe is a Japanese sculptor who has isolated a fascinating niche for himself. Inspired by the Cold War nuclear nightmares of Japanese kaiju cinema, he has in the past focused on huge statues of robots wearing brightly colored hazmat suits and his work also has been known to incorporate actual geiger counters. Some have called his work “cynical,” and when the subject comes up he tends to switch the parameter to “humor.” But somehow, actual fear constitutes the core impetus of his work. Yanobe has said, “I worry about things. I’m constantly thinking about people’s happiness.”

Yanobe has been identified as a member of the “Otaku Generation,” which consists of Japanese kids who grew up in the 1970s consuming robot shows, animated TV shows and movies, and comic books. Wikipedia refers to his art as “upbeat yet nightmarish,” which is definitely a cool place to be. For eighty bucks you can buy a curious keychain of a Yanobe person wearing yellow protective gear and a Hitler mustache. There are also a bunch of books about Yanobe.

“Ship’s Cat,” the artists most recent project, recalls his earlier work but with a patina of heroism and idealism. There’s another way to describe the new statues: they depict enormous cats wearing helmets, and that is awesome.
 

Yanobe at work on one of his feline creations
 
As far as I can tell, all of them are public artworks intended to be interacted with by the public; none of them are in a museum. The first one was installed as part of the glass entryway at the We Base hostel in Hakata, which is known as Japan’s oldest port town. Two of them are at the Tsutaya Books within the Ginza Six department store, and one of them is perched atop Nihonmatsu Castle in the northern Fukushima Prefecture.

The inspiration for the works comes from the centuries-old tradition of bringing a cat as a crew member for trips on oceangoing vessels, whether for trading, exploration, or military purposes. Cats have long been regarded as useful onboard ships because of their penchant for chasing mice and rats, which not only cause damage in ropes and wires but also are dangerous disease carriers.

Over time, as in bookstores, hostels, and communes the world over, cats became an accepted and even beloved part of the experience of working on a ship. Yanobe has drawn inspiration from these noble felines, leading him to create oversized sculptures of cats wearing protective gear and helmets.

An excellent touch is that the cat’s eyes light up at night.
 
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More pics and a video after the jump…..
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.03.2018
10:28 am
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‘Silence is violence’: Social Justice Kittens 2018 calendar is here!
12.06.2017
10:51 am
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OMG, it’s finally here! The 2018 Social Justice Kitten calendar by Sean Tejaratchi. Sean is the creator of Crap Hound and the hilarious online LiarTownUSA blog.

The calendar would make a perfect gift for that certain social justice warrior and cat lover in your life.

This is a full-color, 12” x 12” grid-style wall calendar featuring kittens!

Each month features a charming kitten professionally photographed in a heroic pose appropriate to a small cat defiantly speaking out on the hottest social justice issues of the day.

A sassy, uncompromising declaration erases any doubts about each precious cat’s passionate convictions, sense of humor, and tough-as-nails attitude!

Each of these twelve adorable kittens was subject to a week-long, grueling interview process to ensure there was absolutely nothing problematic in its beliefs.

The calendar sells for $16.00 here.


 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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12.06.2017
10:51 am
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That time a dog named Seamus joined Pink Floyd in 1971
11.29.2017
10:27 am
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I have a soft, fuzzy spot in my heart for bands with animal performers. The genre is often categorized as a mere novelty but, in my opinion, it should be considered as nothing less than it actually is: artistic genius.

I’m sure the first band of this category that will to come to mind for most is the notorious deathgrind band Caninus, once fronted by pit bulls Budgie and Basil. There is also Hatebeak, the Baltimore death metal band with Waldo the African grey parrot as its lead singer. Both groups released a likeminded split EP in 2005 on Reptilian Records.
 

Caninus
 

Hatebeak
 
Of the non-metal variety, Beatle Barkers was a parody record from 1983 that used animal sounds (mostly human barking) in place of the vocals on Beatles covers. Similarly, acts like popular holiday favorite, Jingle Cats, as well as its 1950s predecessor The Singing Dogs, manipulated animal noises to serve in lieu of vocals. There’s even something now called Whalestep, which has me at a loss for words.

But let’s not forget about the musical groups that are made up entirely by animals. Thai Elephant Orchestra is a rotating cast of up to fourteen elephants in Northern Thailand. Improvised on heavy-duty versions of traditional and mostly percussive Thai instruments, the ensemble has released three records to date and the music is actually quite beautiful. One of the more recent additions to this list is Tuna and the Rock Cats, the traveling feline circus band made up of five cats and a chicken. The Rock Cats play every instrument of your average rock band and, as you would have guessed, their live shows are more of a performance art.
 

Thai Elephant Orchestra’s self-titled debut record from 2000
 

Tuna and the Rock Cats
 
Now that we are all on the same page, I wanted to pay tribute to probably the most famous, yet often overlooked animal musician of our time: Seamus the dog. As the story goes, David Gilmour was caring for his friend’s German Shepherd at some point in 1971 while Pink Floyd was in the studio recording their sixth studio album Meddle. The dog, whose name was Seamus, belonged to Humble Pie and Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott, who at the time was on tour in the United States.
 

Steve Marriott with his dog Seamus
 
Seamus was a dog who responded well to music and as a result, had previously performed a small role barking in the background of Small Faces’ 1968 cut, The Universal. The members of Pink Floyd were quick to act upon the musical capabilities of their new canine friend when it was discovered during recording that Seamus could howl in tune with their instruments. Acting on the bizarre opportunity, the band quickly wrote a twelve-bar, slide guitar blues track for Seamus to “sing” over. Additional instrumentation and Gilmour’s lead vocals were later added. Meddle was released on Halloween of 1971, with “Seamus” closing out side A.

Critics have panned “Seamus” as one of Pink Floyd’s worst songs ever written, claiming the spoof to be dispensable to both the record and the band’s discography. In response to such objection, Gilmour defended the track, once stating that “It wasn’t really as funny to everyone else [as] it was to us.” Perhaps due to song’s unpopularity or the unavailability of its backing vocalist, the group and Gilmour have never played “Seamus” live in concert. That is, with the exception of in their monumental concert documentary, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii.

Live at Pompeii was filmed over four days in October 1971. The primary focus of the film is Floyd’s psychedelic concert set in an ancient Roman amphitheater somewhere in Italy. Since the recording coincided with the release of Meddle, most of the songs included on the original version of the documentary were from the new record. The film was re-released in 1974 to include footage of Pink Floyd while recording The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios.

The song “Seamus” made its way onto Live from Pompeii in the form of a segment titled “Mademoiselle Nobs.” The scene presents the song in altered form with David Gilmour playing harmonica and Roger Waters on blues guitar. Laying beside the two is a howling Russian Wolfhound, Nobs the dog. Nobs was a female Borzoi who belonged to Madonna Bouglione (daughter of circus director, Joseph Bouglione). At the request of the band, Madonna brought Nobs to the studio during shooting so they could re-create Seamus’ performance for the documentary. The scene was shot outside of Paris.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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11.29.2017
10:27 am
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Big hair, animal hybrids and fleshy creatures: The surreal world of José Luis López Galván
11.22.2017
09:30 am
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Artist Jose Luis Lopez Galván describes his strange, surreal paintings of human-animal hybrids as taking place within “a different dimension” but “not in a dream.” He blends together every kind of element, whether animal, human, or object, to create “a collage that, in its integration, represents a portrait, not of the aspect of things, but of their essence.” Though their meanings are very personal, Galván’s pictures are intended to bring the viewer into a conversation about what is happening within the frame.

They are paintings to be seen not by the artist, but by the spectator, looking for a communication, so somehow the observer is surprised by the different, but feeling familiarity, feeling that behind it there is something that concerns him.

To encourage this interaction between viewer and painting, Galván has explained some of the symbolic meaning he has assigned to certain figures and objects:

When the rabbit appears I refer to innocence; when the mask of Zorro, hypocrisy; machines are cold and human characters live together without problems in a contradictory world of nightmare, that represents the real world without the wrappings that make it more digestible.

Galván was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He originally trained as a graphic artist but gave it up to become a painter. He cites his lack of formal training in painting as allowing him develop “a more honest voice”—one that was not conditioned by the strictures of an art school. His main influences come from Rembrandt, Picasso, Goya and the Baroque period.

Galván’s weird and unsettling paintings have garnered considerable interest. He has exhibited his work since 2004. Last year, his work was included in the highly accalimed BeinArt Surreal Art Show, at the CoproGallery. Santa Monica. His paintings have also caused a frenzy of interest on the internet with some commentators describing Galván as “set to become one of the greatest artists of his generation.” Recently, his work featured on the cover of Swedish prog rock band Soen’s album Tellurian. You can see more José Luis López Galván’s work here or buy one of his paintings at the Macabre Gallery.
 
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More from the surreal and eerie world of Jose Luis Lopez Galván, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.22.2017
09:30 am
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Look at the kitty! Pranksters force milk-lapping footage on unsuspecting Times Square tourists
11.17.2017
09:20 am
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One of the many legacies of the experimental art movements of the middle of the last century has been a heightened tolerance for weird site-specific art nonsense. The Fluxus folks certainly come to mind in that regard, as do the works of artists as varied as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chris Burden, Marina Abramović, Robert Smithson, and Barbara Kruger.

In the 1980s Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who went by Fischli/Weiss, cornered the market on a certain kind of gentle, homespun art. Their best-known work is probably 1987’s Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), a video in which a sort of Rube Goldberg machine plays itself out, using only the kind of junk one might find in a painter’s studio. That entities such as the Honda Motor Company and OK Go would (many years later) “outdo” the feat doesn’t obscure the droll manner in which they attacked the problem, as well as the fact that they attempted such an idea with zero possibility of the clip ever going viral.

One of their ten precepts for their How to Work Better is “Distinguish Sense from Nonsense,” which is a trickier task than it might first appear. If you’re standing in Times Square, is it “sense” or “nonsense” if one of the massive displays suddenly shows footage of a kittykat lapping up milk, without a tangible product or purpose to be discerned? Well, that depends if you’re a corporate manager or an anarchist, right?
 

 
Fischli and Weiss worked collaboratively for more than three decades until the sad passing of Weiss in 2012. They were outstanding purveyors of nonsense; for instance, they had animal alter egos—a rat and a bear—that they liked to adopt in their artworks.

In 2001 Fischli/Weiss put together a six-minute clip of a cat blithely drinking milk from a saucer, and managed to have it screened in Times Square on “an oversized video screen” (specifically the Times Square Astrovision) for a project called The 59th Minute. The title of the work is Büsi (Kitty); it was actually an excerpt from Fischli/Weiss’ massive 96-hour video installation Untitled (Venice Work), which appeared at the 1995 Venice Biennale (in case you were inclined to think of the duo as lazy). In a statement, Fischli let it be known that “Büsi was not made as a discussion about kitsch. There was just something super-nice about this cat that we were attracted to.”

In a way, this was the “original cat video.”

In February 2016, the project was revived, as the video was shown on approximately 60 screens (!) in Times Square for the last three minutes of every day for a period lasting more than three weeks.

According to the notes that accompany the video:
 

While the lush, high-definition quality of the Büsi video suggests a commercial for a pet product, the lack of a soundtrack, deliberate overexposure, and slapdash framing give the work the look of an amateur video of a family pet. By simply changing the frame of reference, by restaging the commonplace within the landscape of art and/or commerce, Fischli and Weiss make the ordinary seem extraordinary.

 
Catch the video after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.17.2017
09:20 am
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Ghosts, monstrous faces & strange creatures: The eerie beauty of bad vintage photographs
11.15.2017
08:30 am
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I spent my teens living in Edinburgh. At weekends, I avoided people, spent my time wandering around the city taking photographs of the expected fare: historic buildings, monuments, and the always busy streets. I guess I was trying to fix, as much in my head as in black & white and color, how I fitted into all of this—other than by a mere accident of birth.

When a roll was finished, I waited the obligatory three days to a week for the magic to be done and a slim paper wallet filled with photographs to be returned. The finished pictures offered something I thought I could call my own. But a lot of the time, I wondered why the hell I’d bothered. The pictures were all too often backdrops—little more than mere representations of what already existed. That’s possibly why I always liked the pictures that came back with a quality control label attached. The ones that stated the image was blurred, or out of focus, or the subject was too close to the camera or camera shake. These poorly-taken pictures were far more appealing to me as they were a starting point for imagination rather than biography.

“Bad” photographs are sometimes like the best illustrations to weird tales of horror and nightmare. The woman who happily sat in her garden waiting for her picture to be taken oblivious of the small approaching beast, its flash of teeth and claws, ready to pounce and eat. Or, the family of monstrous shapeshifters captured unraveling in front of an unsuspecting tourist. Or, the demon held proudly aloft in its mother’s arms burning with the flames of Hell. Or, that strange Lovecraftian light moving purposefully across the creased waters of a lake.
 
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More weirdly wonderful photographs, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.15.2017
08:30 am
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‘Don’t Kill the Animals’: PETA’s 1987 experimental compilation produced by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen


 
Celebrity endorsements of PETA are nearly as infamous as the company’s graphic and often-questionable awareness campaigns. Since the animal rights organization was founded in 1980, influential figures from the arts and entertainment world have voiced their concerns over animal cruelty, whether in favor of vegetarianism or in disapproval of product testing on animals. Even Iggy Pop and Nick Cave are known proponents.
 
The man behind the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ most controversial campaigns is Senior Vice President, Dan Matthews. Much earlier in his career, before more famous people like Paul McCartney, Pink and Pamela Anderson got involved, Dan reached out to none other than Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen—an inspired choice, I think you’ll agree—about a compilation album to benefit PETA. With Jourgensen on board as the album’s primary producer, Matthews put together a different kind of record; one that would find a correlation between music and animal activism.
 

 
Featuring a forlorn monkey in a laboratory on its cover, Animal Liberation was released by legendary Chicago independent label Wax Trax! on April 21st, 1987. All songs on the compilation were donated to PETA by the artists (some had been previously released) and featured subjects of animal cruelty. Among key contributors to the album were musicians like The Smiths, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Captain Sensible, Chris & Cosey, Shriekback, and a collaboration between Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich. Song clips between tracks featured ominous segments of “actual dialogue from animal experimenters and meat farmers and actual alerts from TV and radio shows.” While Jourgensen did not contribute any actual music to the project, the interlude clips were all produced by him.
 
From the album’s linear notes:
 

In 1985, Dan Matthews (PETA) approached Al Jourgensen (Ministry, Wax Tax) about helping put together a “different” sort of benefit album - for animal rights. Sympathetic artists from across America and Europe were approached to donate material on animal issues (some songs previously released). From all these submissions, ANIMAL LIBERATION has surfaced - the songs interspersed with action segments containing actual dialogue from animal experimenters and meat farmers and actual alerts from TV and radio shows. The introduction carries, in 11 languages, the central theme: “ANIMALS ARE NOT OURS TO EAT, WEAR OR EXPERIMENT ON.”

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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11.13.2017
01:23 pm
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