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The Residents - Eskimo CD (album) cover

ESKIMO

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.92 | 62 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Eskimo' - The Residents (7/10)

The Residents are a band- er, should I say 'art collective'- that prides itself on being weird, and often downright crazy. Through deceptively simple arrangements, this is a group that virtually defines what the term 'avant-garde' means to me. One of their best known works is 'Eskimo.' Like the majority of the music that The Residents have done, this album is wrought with simplistic arrangements, and a dose of surreal humour to boot. While it may work incredibly well on some albums by this band, 'Eskimo' comes across more as an album that probably sounded better on paper than it actually turned out.

Although the album is divided into six tracks, this album takes the form of a single journey through an arctic soundscape. Most of the play length is backed up by an incessant howl of the wind, the sort of generic wind sound that is also heard on Zappa's 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow.' For all intents and purposes, this is simply a backdrop for the rest of the action during 'Eskimo.' Musically, The Residents rely on simple, droning instrumental arrangements in parts, but largely allocate their efforts towards vocals. These vocals are almost never melodic, and instead go the route of garbled spoken word, or chanting that seems deliberately reminiscent of Native American tradition. For the sake of atmosphere, 'Eskimo' does ride home on its otherworldly vibe, and the incessant nature of the ambiance seeks to keep a listener in its trance.

'Eskimo' is almost an album that I would label as being good for only a handful of listens. While much avant-garde music- and certainly work by this band- demands multiple returns by the listener, 'Eskimo's surreal shock value only degraded as I went back to it. The album sticks to one gimmick and does not tend to leave it. Not to mention that it seems like 'Eskimo' is trying to make fun of the aboriginals who live that life; the garbled pseudo-gibberish that The Residents speak in their chants is certainly interesting at first, but ultimately veers towards the shallow end of the pool. Creepy and odd, but there isn't much to 'figure out' inside the shell. An interesting effort from The Residents as always, but I do not find this album to be nearly as enduring as some of the other things they have done.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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