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

MARK OF THE MOLE

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.93 | 34 ratings

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HolyMoly
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams
4 stars Mark of the Mole is among the Residents' most successful, emotionally potent, gimmick-free offerings. By this time, the Residents had completely embraced keyboards/synthesizers as a key instrument, but instead of using them for goofy bloops and bleeps (as they did on the couple of albums prior to this), they use them to create a dark purple sky of doom and despair. The result is not only a near-perfect sonic depiction of the concept's subject matter (the plight of the Moles and their eventual migration to the land of the Chubs, where they are persecuted), but also a musically engaging affair that works on its own even without the concept.

It begins with "Voices of the Air", kind of a prelude in the form of radio announcers announcing the coming storm that will eventually wipe out the Moles' homeland. It's kind of bright and catchy in a perverse way. "The Ultimate Disaster" follows, probably the highlight of the album - doomy chanted vocals underneath scary and jarring synth sounds. "Migration" and "Another Land" move the plot along, not quite as impressive musically, but not trivial either. Things really pick up again for the last segment, "A New Machine" and "Final Confrontation", which return to loud, almost industrial mechanical sounds and screaming washes of synth, with urgent vocals underneath, building to a terrifying climax.

This album signaled a new era for the Residents; through the rest of the 1980s they would further explore the concept-album-rendered-in-heavy-keyboards path, but this is the only album from that decade (barring the excellent "God in Three Persons") where you really feel like the Residents were putting a lot of care and attention into their music. Every doomy moment feels like it's on its way somewhere, carrying you forward through the story. One of the 5 best Residents albums, in my opinion.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |

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