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The Residents - WB:RMX CD (album) cover

WB:RMX

The Residents

RIO/Avant-Prog


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simomusicmast
5 stars Usually, also quite experts listeners consider avant-garde music as a monothematic excursion into weirdness, dissonant sounds, with abstraction as a rule. That would effectively fit to some bands, such as early Faust's recordings (in this case chaotic noises, cut-ups etc. have an intricate sense of impromptu art)... this getting worse and worse as you listen to Revolution#9 by the Beatles. Residents' sense of avant-garde is miles away to be a random collection of nonsensical noises: their identities are obscure, but their music is clear, vibrant, moving, powerful. As they noticed that their early stuff was going to be shared in p2p programs, they decided to wrong-foot everybody with a new album of remixes: the original tapes would had been taken from their legendary 1971's Warner Bros rejected album, which, according to the myth, gave them their name, had been restored, and heavily altered. They created a brand new monster! This LP is guided by a strong, amazing, mixture of techno, club music, house, converted into something that nobody would be able to dance... soft themes appear behind the mechanical chill of the percussions, but it's really difficult to distinguish what's "original" from what isn't (also because several fragments appear to be VERY anachronistic). I must admit this extremely complex record can't be marked as a progressive one, but Residents' funs aren't interested their heroes remain within the boundaries of a certain genre at all, maybe they care of the countrary. If you love avant-garde, and you're ready to accept the genius of these wizards of obscurity, I am sure you will consider this one of their highest achievements.
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Posted Friday, August 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If you believe the Creation Myth of The Residents, you'll appreciate the value of these recordings, supposedly representing some of the earliest (ersatz) music ever created by those anonymous screwballs from San Mateo, California: hometown heroes to this native-son-in-exile from the same Bay Area suburb. The original 'album', a dense collage of amateur avant-rock satire and obscure private jokes, was sent unsolicited to Warner Bros. Records in 1971, where it was (understandably) rejected and returned to the unknown sender, addressed by necessity merely to 'Residents'. And thus a new ensemble was suddenly baptized.

A little skepticism is encouraged here, if only because the source of the story is the band itself. But thirty-plus years later the legendary Warner Bros. album was finally allowed a legitimate release, albeit after a radical 21st century facelift combining additional dance beats, new instrumentation, and merciless editing. A fossil of the original recording can be glimpsed in places, but most of the earlier (pseudo) music was effectively camouflaged in the remix, often to its benefit.

On its own terms the new version actually works very well, being surprisingly accessible on top but, like most of The Residents' catalogue, predictably weird under the skin. And yet I would accuse the Eyeballs of myopia here. They missed an opportunity to present at least a portion of the raw, original tapes, perhaps as an archival bonus track for comparison purposes. The official excuse was their embarrassment over the abysmal sound quality and primitive musicianship, but my own suspicions revolve around legal issues with ex-bandmates, keeping in mind the fact that the original 'album' was produced before a band even existed.

The unedited tapes, first recorded on cheap reel-to-reel audio equipment, still exist in cyberland, bootlegged from extremely rare indie radio broadcasts. And they are indeed cruder than you can possibly imagine. But something uniquely Residential didn't quite survive the high-tech surgery, and the dynamic update shows evidence of retroactive sanitation, perhaps with good reason. In these conservative times not even a fringe group like The Residents could get away with naming a song 'Every Day I Masturbate on a Merican Fag' (the title on the remix eliminates the onanism). Along with songs like 'Snot and Feces' (included from the original) and 'Stuffed Genital' (not), you can plainly see where their juvenile heads were at in 1971.

But the iconoclastic creativity and Zappa-influenced cultural sabotage that would become an early Residents hallmark was already incubating in these sessions. A generation later, the '04 remix provided a pinhole glimpse at what must have been a heady time of undisciplined freedom for the embryonic quartet, still vivid even with the digital bandages in place. But I wouldn't expect a similar revision of the notorious 'Baby Sex' tapes any time soon.

Report this review (#1077548)
Posted Saturday, November 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
TCat
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Residents.

Usually that would pretty much say everything.

But this album is something that worked, and I think that was totally unintentional. Way back before The Residents were just a glitter in the eye of their eyeball mother, they sent in a demo tape to Warner Brothers. It got rejected. You all know how bad their music can be right? Well this was worse. The WB exec sent the demo back in an envelope marked to "Residents" and that is where the band got their name. As a trivial side fact here, the executive included a note that said that at least he gave them an "A for Ariginality".

So, since the band was embarrassed (? I know, right?), they hid this demo tape from the public for years and years. Of course, as these cult-ish things tend to do, it started to circulate in bootlegged form. So The Residents gave a collective sigh and collectively said, let's take these awful demos and make a remix album out of them. Thus, you have this album. The problem is, there really aren't that many tracks on here that use those demos as source material. (Ha, ha, ha, aren't those Residents funny?) What you do get however, is a bunch of tracks that use different sources as original material and layer a bunch of sounds and bad singing on top of them (usually redneck accent style singing), do some rearranging, and, viola, an album.

The funniest thing about this is it turned out to be quite good. There is a lot of variety, which is something that is usually missing on any single individual Residents album. You get some danceable beats from time to time, but the music is really odd, so you won't be hearing any of this in your local Rave Hall or Roller Skating Rink any time soon.

Now, The Residents, when they make a joke, they go out of their way to completely milk it for all that it's worth. You end up getting an album with something that seems funny on paper, but at the end of the album, you are ready to poke out an eyeball (see what "eye" did there?). But this time, these stupid remixes are quite hilarious, all the way through the album. If you are familiar with remixes at all, you should understand this humor. With memorable songs like "Snot and Feces", "Ohm is Where the Heart is", and "Baby Skeletons and Dogs", you just know that you are in quality territory when it comes to remixing something so it sounds nothing at all like it's source material.

The album still manages to be Avant Prog as you get some interesting things going on here that are anything but typical. It's not very often that The Residents sound like they know what they are doing, but this is one of their albums that proves that they are not as dumb as they think they are. You get so used to hearing their weirdness, that when they do something that is good, you suspect it was on accident.

You might think that an album of almost 1 hour play time (including bonus tracks when applicable) would wear out it's welcome with this satirical look at remix albums. But it doesn't because there is enough variety here to keep things interesting. And, if you listen to this as simply an art rock album, you might not think that it was supposed to be satirizing remix albums. That might be a stretch, I suppose, but regardless, I still enjoy this album that doesn't wear out it's welcome as some of the other many Residents albums do. Not all of them, mind you, but they have so many albums, EPs, and so on, that you can still say "wear out its welcome as some of the other many Residents albums do" and still be right, and yet still come out of it with a better discography than some other bands could come up with. Anyway, search this one out. Chances are that, if nothing else, you will come out with at least a segment of this album that you will like. As for me, I'll add this one to the bands five star albums like "Eskimo" and "Duck Stab" and some others.

Report this review (#2037436)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2018 | Review Permalink

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