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The Residents - The River of Crime: Episodes 1-5 CD (album) cover

THE RIVER OF CRIME: EPISODES 1-5

The Residents

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This is an unusual album even for such a notorious 'group' of misfits. (The scare quotes are there to indicate my suspicion that The Residents aren't an actual group anymore, and likely haven't been for some time. This one sure sounds like a one-man project.)

To begin with, it isn't a musical album at all, but a collection of what sound like radio theatre pieces. Each of the five tracks is a separate episode, and each episode opens with identical theme music and spoken introduction, before continuing the saga of a troubled young sociopath, obsessed with violent crimes and criminal case histories, who imagines himself becoming a magnet for trouble. Don't expect any songs (there aren't any), just a lot of scripted first-person narration and character monologues, all of it spoken in that now all-too familiar adenoidal Louisiana twang.

Sure, there's background music throughout, but it's only that: incidental background music to the story itself. A second CD actually isolates the music tracks, in an abbreviated arrangement, thirty minutes shorter than Disc One. In this format it works well enough, but unlike the full broadcast it doesn't exactly encourage active listening. The music could easily have been (and probably was) played by a single person on a small array of keyboards and samplers, which again fuels my theory that at this stage the anonymous band had been reduced to a single Resident.

As radio theatre the production is impeccable. But as a novelty album (be it Avant-Prog of Post- Rock or whatever) it probably won't be played more than once.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#218989)
Posted Saturday, May 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars The Residents 'The River of Crime' is a radio noir play with synth driven music and trys to emulate the 40s crime fiction genre. There are 2 components to this, the performance dialogue of the actual story and the music, which is separated as a second CD if listeners want to hear this without all the talking. I prefer to hear just the music as the dialogue is really only okay heard once. After that we know the story and it is just an irritant. The story was told as a series of 5 podcasts on the net, based on the time honored concept 1940's style radio drama such as Dragnet.

In this story the narrator reveals an obsession with wickedness and is a collector of crime itself, a genuine sociopath. He is fascinated with the electric chair and all it represents as a crime killer, then he has a terrible recollection that adversely affected him. The narrator distances himself from his subjects, but files away like an index bits of crime cases, such as newspaper clippings, along with his personal observations. His life has become one of indulging in crime and the evil that mend do. Eventually it all comes to haunt him as one crime after another seems to just occur before him at a rapid pace. It is as if he is causing the crimes to take place in front of him. Danger ensues from the killers themselves and one may wonder if it is all in the narrator's head and he has become like the subjects he obsesses over ? a killer!

The music is dramatic and cinematic though in places is nothing more than a minimal keyboard. It sometimes makes me wonder listening to these latest Residents albums whether the band is nothing more than one member, as their anonymity allows for this. Devin Townsend has done triple this musical soundscape on his own so it would not be hard to achieve. 2 stars for this oddity.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#1071466)
Posted Sunday, November 03, 2013 | Review Permalink

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