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The Residents - The Voice of Midnight CD (album) cover


The Residents



4.00 | 18 ratings

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4 stars So, after a few fairly good albums, The Residents put out this album. 'The Voice of Midnight' tells the story of a boy named Nate (played and sung by Corey Rosen) who thinks The Sandman is out to kill him like The Sandman killed his father. He has a girlfriend named Claire (played by Gerry Lawler) who he alienates when she discovers he has feeling for a mannequin or a robot, not sure which, named Olympia (played by Carla Fabrizo). All of the actors, or players, worked with The Residents previously on 'River of Crime' and 'Tweedles'. Vocals are both sung and spoken, as in a play or drama.

The first track 'The Sandman' is the track that tells the backstory of this whole drama. The main character Nate, is telling his girlfriend Claire on the telephone, just what his problem is with The Sandman. The music in the background is quite chaotic and noisy as Nate gets frantic and calms down when he's not. There is a lot of noisy guitar in this track among other cacophony. Later, Nate sings, and his voice is vulnerable and nervous, like you would expect in this character. The music calms down here, but remains eerie and strange, with synths, guitar and strings providing instrumentals. The regular vocalist for The Residents provides some processed spooky vocals. The other characters sing/speak during their parts. The music gets dark and heavy at the end.

This first track, lasting over 8 minutes, is a good example of what to expect in this album. The music is definitely avant-prog, and goes along with the text and lyrics of the story. This was The Residents forte during this time of their long existence. Telling dramatic stories to music and spoken parts. Yes, the stories are strange, funny and just plain weird, but if they weren't, this wouldn't be The Residents. The albums of this era of the collective had, thank goodness, moved onto more developed music, where real instruments were involved, and not just the annoying amateur sounding synthesizers of their albums from the middle of their discography.

Now, here's a spoiler alert. The rest of this review deals with the story as it goes through the scenes, or tracks of this album. Remember, this is a story by The Residents, so consider this your warning. Some images can be disturbing.

In the next track 'Mental Decay', Nate is on a picnic with Claire and he writes her a poem to get on her good side. It's a stupid poem and Claire chides him for believing that The Sandman is out to get him. 'Claire's Response' is when she tells him to get lost and he tries to apologize but to no avail. 'In the Dark' tells how Nick's friend Brad calls him and tells him his apartment is on fire, but not to worry because Brad rescued all of his stuff in time and now Nick can live with him. Nick lives there and discovers that his Biology professor lives across the street, so he goes over to talk with him. In 'Professor Caligari' he talks to his professor and asks him about his daughter that lives upstairs that he spotted petting a white cat. In 'The Telescope' Nick buys a pocket telescope that he can use to spy on the professor's mysterious 'Daughter'. The Sandman entices him to go watch the girl with the white cat who he becomes obsessed with.

Later, in 'True Love' which lasts over 11 minutes, Nate receives an invitation from Olympia (which is the 'daughter's' name) to come to a party. Olympia sings him the song 'Beautiful Dreamer' with altered lyrics and with the melody changed to a minor key sounding really hypnotic and spooky. After the song, heavy and dark guitars play the altered melody, then a synthesized chorus sing the refrain. This part is actually quite clever. After that, things get really bizarre as the Sandman gets into Nate's head. My guess is that Nate gets memerized and hypnotized and sees the Sandman feeding his children eyeballs and thinks, 'Hey, they gotta eat too.' So all of this is to make him feel empathy for The Sandman and to lure him in.

'Seven Cats' tells how while Nate is watching Olympia through his telescope, she is not there one night but there are cats everywhere. The man that sold him the telescope is walking up the street and picks the lock on the professor's door. Nate goes over to stop him and finds Olympia's body on the floor without eyes and there is also a box that the person dropped that is full of eyeballs. He is also in some kind of laboratory with heads on the shelves and then he is captured by creeping seaweed.

In 'Catatonia', Nate has been captured by the police and they are questioning Claire as to why he was found in the professor's laboratory hugging a mannequin with a bunch of mannequin heads all over the ground. Meanwhile, in Nate's mind, all is not right as the Sandman continues to lull him to sleep. In 'The Proposal', it seems like all has returned to normal as Nate sees everyone celebrating his birthday, Claire is there and has forgiven him now that Nate is better and is ready to marry him. But the music and The Sandman's voice alludes to the fact that everything is not alright.

'The Tower' tells how Nate takes Claire to the top of a tower to watch the sunset. While there, Claire tells him she is pregnant and Nate goes crazy and says the babies belong to The Sandman. He tries to kill Claire claiming she slept with him while she pleads to him that it's not true. As he almost kills her, he looks down and sees The Sandman. As he goes to attack The Sandman, he goes over the railing of the tower and falls to his death.

'Epilogue' fast forwards to the future where Claire is talking to her children and tells them she is going out for a little while and she leaves them with her grandma, who proceeds to tell them the story of . . . . ''The Sandman.

Okay, just so you know, no one can tell a spooky story like The Residents, especially one that is as wacky as this. The album has plenty of odd melodies, sounds, and avant-prog-ness to keep everyone interested, but chances are, you will be entranced by the story. It's not their best, and after the first listen, it loses it's charm, but it's fun and interesting if nothing else, and might be a good Halloween story for you to share with your friends, that is, if you are into that kind of entertainment. But, everyone will probably just look at you funny. Oh well. There's always a place for us weirdoes, isn't there?

TCat | 4/5 |


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