"This unusual memoir, which takes the reader on an amazing odyssey that begins with Ostertag's life as a musician in 1978 New York and ends 30 years later in San Francisco with his writing a book to explain the creative life. . . . Recommended."
The Nation magazine’s 2012 “Most Important Book of the Year”.
"This is Jonathan Swift for the Jackass Generation, a combination of devastatingly intelligent critique with slapstick hilarity. The next breakthrough book on globalization-thank god it’s so much fun to read."
– Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
"50 minutes of thought, weirdness, and formal precision. The best of what experimental music offers bur rarely delivers."
– The Wire
"This is a piece of our history that everyone concerned about the past and future of our democracy needs to know."
– Eric Foner, author of The Story of American Freedom
"50 minutes of thought, weirdness, and formal precision. The best of what experimental music offers but rarely delivers."
– The Wire
"There are no answers here, but rather a brilliant contemplation of the discontent and yearning that motivates our better natures."
– Frances Fox Piven, author of Poor People's Movements: When They Succeed, Why They Fail
"If I had to cast a vote for the most energetic, the most quirky, and the most unrepentantly original ensemble of recent history, this would be it."
– Exclaim Magazine (Toronto)
"Bob Ostertag is the blaspheming priest of the art of noise. Genius underlies his performance."
– Messagger Veneto
"Odd and genius. Like nothing before or after, I promise."
– Faster Than Sheep
"With acute sensitivity, Ostertag catches the strengths of his partners and lifts them up to a new level, magnifying the skill and intensity of these extraordinary virtuosos. The border between live improvisation and computerized manipulation blurs and if finally made irrelevant by the music which results."
– Jazzthetik (Germany)
"Nothing like Creative Life has ever been produced by a major publisher. Ostertag's political thinking is clarified through his involvement with music. This book shows how music can be deployed as a tool for actually theorizing the social world."
– George E. Lewis, MacArthur Fellow, author of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
"Creative Life is the most lucid philosophical work on music, culture and politics since Steve Reich's Writings on Music. What emerges here is a passionate, committed but endearingly modest man confronting the monsters of his age. In that, he joins the unlikely but estimable company of Emerson and Thoreau."
– John Gill, The Wire
"Step by step, the soundscape is veering away from our original perspective. Constellations are changing. Suddenly you emerge into a polyphony worthy of some politically-minded electronic Bach.The discords of the soul break continents and heavens and finally stir up the spirits of the past like grand bells. Very, very spiritual. We are stunned."
– Zorica Kojić, Danas (Serbia)
"To say that this has made me radically rethink my use of the word 'queer' is an understatement."
"Effectively captures the anger, chaos, and mayhem of armed rebellion. Sounds scream, bounce off walls, sicken, and unnerve. Voice, however, is quite exhilarating and refreshing, and is certainly more intriguing than the current slew of “political” drivel being served up by most bands now."
– OP Magazine
"This whole Say No More project will go down in history as one of the most original artistic propositions of the 1990s."
"People's Movements, People's Press is an extremely useful intervention into the historical debate of the meanings of journalism, democracy. Its measured tone and extensive research are particularly welcome, given the potential volatility of the topic. Highly recommended."
– Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?
"At a time when climate change is wreaking havoc at home and abroad and communities of color are becoming the vital center of progressive social change, this book renews my faith that organizing works."
– Van Jones, former Special Advisor for Green Jobs to US President Barack Obama
"Sampling technology is used in a significant way for the first time. The music encircles reality, decomposes it into music and recomposes it until reality is no longer able to escape. Great music, that has something to do with life again."
– Die Zeit (Germany)
"Bob Ostertag has created a touching homage that ensures audiences will not only come to know Hank’s legacy but also come to love the warm and relentless nature of a man who ignited immeasurable change."
– Sophia Lanza-Weil, Frameline 2019
"Bob Ostertag’s improvisations on non-keyboard synthesizers are about as far removed from the electronic music clichés of the past as can be imagined."
– The New York Times
"With entrance into Ostertag’s world comes a severe attitude adjustment. You have to curb your brain, dump your ‘common sense’ judgments, and peel away the calluses that have built up over the vulnerable core of your senses. Listening becomes cultural time travel at warp speed. Time, however, jumps off its linear tracks."
– San Francisco Bay Guardian
"'All the Rage' turned the evening on its head with a devastating roar of gay anger. Of recent concert pieces having to do with AIDS, “All the Rage” seems by far the most powerful example. Mr. Ostertag’s stern, purifying gaze has swept away the sentimentality and melodrama that have compromised more famous compositions in the genre."
– The New York Times on the world premiere of "All the Rage" at Lincoln Center
"This guy’s just a garbageman. There ought to be limits to freedom. Of course I don’t appreciate it — and you wouldn’t either."
– George Walker Bush, President of the United States
"As beautiful as the pastoral/celestial meditations of Brian Eno or Kitaro would be — if either one of those musicians chewed glass."
– San Francisco Bay Guardian
"Welcome to some of the hottest battlefields in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (lgbt) community. Sex Science Self is a bold, argumentative, contentious, and provocative book. In equal measure, it is also insightful, stimulating, and brilliant."
– Journal of American History
"I've come to rely on Bob Ostertag to claw away at the superficial and often misleading 'official' versions of all things cultural and political and get simply and unpretentiously to the heart of the matter. His passionate engagement can be felt on every page of this wonderful (re)collection."
– Fred Frith, musician
"With Say No More, Ostertag elevated the sampler to the rank of musical instrument and gained recognition as a true visionary. The border between free improvisation and musique concrete will never be the same. Any serious fan of avant-garde music needs to hear this, one of the rare avant-garde albums where the relevance of the artistic argument equals the relevance of the result. A classic."