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The Residents - Fingerprince CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.74 | 59 ratings

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3 stars The initial concept behind the fourth recorded (but third released) album from The Residents may have been ahead of its time, but only accidentally. It was planned as a three-sided vinyl LP (yes, such oddities did exist), but one-third of the music was amputated to make it fit on a conventional single disc. Only after the arrival of digital CD technology would the full set be heard as originally intended.

But at any length it's a somewhat schizophrenic effort, as might be expected from a group of such loveable nut jobs, with contrasting musical faces looking in two very different directions. The shorter songs anticipate the "Duck Stab" sessions and the much later "Commercial Album" of twisted pop music mutations ("March de la Winni" and "Bossy" each clock in at almost exactly sixty seconds). It's a chance to hear The Residents unburdened by any heavy thematic baggage, with the best examples ("Godsong" is a personal favorite) somehow managing to be funny, affecting, and oddly thoughtful all at once.

The flipside of the original LP, devoted entirely to the multi-part, 18-minute "Six Things to a Cycle", belongs in a different asylum altogether. The piece was (supposedly) composed as a modern ballet score, and showed The Residents flexing their compositional muscles not unlike the 97-pound weakling in a vintage Charles Atlas bodybuilding ad. The band wasn't as much fun when their collective thinking caps were screwed on so tight, but the full opus sounds more effective in retrospect, despite an obvious instrumental debt to FRANK ZAPPA (lots of tuned percussion, so forth). It may in fact be the best example of their esoteric "Theory of Phonetic Organization", looking forward to the masterful soundscapes of the "Eskimo" album a few short years later.

In the meantime their primitive musicianship was showing signs of improvement, as well as their recording skills. But the band still preferred to sound like barely competent amateurs: imagine Christian Vander's MAGMA, populated by clever toddlers. Guest star Philip Lithman (aka SNAKEFINGER) makes his presence known, emphatically in the album opener "You Yesyesyes", sneaking in a phrase from the Anton Karas zither theme to "The Third Man", here played in Lithman's distinctive lunatic guitar style.

Bottom line: it's a lopsided album, providing a fascinating glimpse of The Residents in transition, just prior to donning their iconic eyeball-head tuxedos.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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