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The Residents - Mark Of The Mole CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.01 | 53 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars The Chubs are the swinging jazz lovers that have the high life above ground and do what they want and have a blast not giving a toss about the hapless Moles who are 'working down below' and are determined to find some solace in the high life above. The music is dark and doomy and at times chilling but this is The Residents and the price of admission is to leave conventional musical terms out the door. As a huge fan of Commercial Album, I was drawn to this 1980s followup which is actually part of a trilogy. The Moles are finally forced to leave their tunnels 'we must leave' as they become flooded and water logged they hunt for sanctuary and work in the land of Chubs. The racial intolerance that ensues causes wars, violence and a racial division. An obvious allegory on race hatred and bigotry the album tends to wallow in nastiness. Gone is the whimsical humour so prevalent on earlier Residents projects, as they embrace a depressing style of conceptual music. The result is that this is a very difficult album to enjoy unless you are prepared to ignore the concept that is based on the misery of the downtrodden. Perhaps this in itself makes it worthy of listening as it is difficult to find a more bleak depiction of racism.

'Voices Of The Air' is one of the best pieces that immediately transports the listener into the Resident's jaded world with deep resonating synths and that familiar Residents vocal twang. 'The Ultimate Disaster' is where it gets hard to take as the chants and monotone singing and that incessant synth melody irritates after a while. 'Migration' is monotonous and perhaps too much so for its own good. It kind of hypnotises with its monotone chanting and ramblings.

'Another Land' has some interesting synth phrases and odd little passages of music with almost subliminal vocals mixed in. 'The New Machine' sounds like the repetitive noises heard in a factory with some excited dialogue. The machine breaks down and we hear the maker saying 'all hail the new machine, live my machine, you have my breath, my dream.' The sounds lock in trying to emulate a factory repeating buzzes, whirls and some grating noises. It is interesting on first listen but afterwards one just longs for it to end so we can get to the incredible climax. The climax is of course found on the war to end all wars between the races on 'Final Confrontation' that almost clocks 10 minutes. The cadence quickens as the conflict ensues, the Moles uprising is devastating as they claim their territory 'all we really want is for you to quickly die.' The droning sounds of synth and little flourishes are wonderful. The lyrics are obvious 'Hatred has hunger and hatred has eyes, Do not disturb us you might be surprised.' The time sig changes as the fight breaks out, a great sequence of synth mayhem. There are the sounds of sirens and some resonating voices 'let my tears run red.' An ascending noise reaches high register and we hear a chaotic outburst of squeals sounding like death walked in the room. This is highly disturbing but compelling. I get lost for a while at this point as there is a blast of dissonance and it all cuts out abruptly, perhaps a nuclear blast. Then a dark little nursery rhyme theme is heard. Who won the war? At first listen I was guessing the Moles took over as that seems likely given their passion to succeed being driven out of their homes. It really isn't clear and maybe it doesn't matter, but we can guess.

'The Mole Show: Live in London' may be a better way of listening to this as it features narration and added songs to make sense of it all. This studio release was followed by 'The Tunes of Two Cities' so this makes up a kind of disjointed trilogy. Overall 'mark of the Mole' had great promise but is lacking the Residents magical touch that blends weird melodies and chilling music with a sense of the absurdist humour. When the humour is removed all that is left is a cold empty shell making for a decidedly unpalatable and most unpleasant listening experience.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 2/5 |


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