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The Residents - The Tunes of Two Cities CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.27 | 43 ratings

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Nicholas Linear
5 stars This is my first review. Its primary motivation is the Poll question, asking for music that is a Guilty Pleasure - i.e. non -Prog but loved. I would have assuredly put the Residents, but upon further review, I notice that they are listed ! However, they are only minimally reviewed here, and this is especially disappointing for my favorite Residents album. Unfortunately, this and the other albums in the "trilogy" were a disaster financially for them.

Of note, Penn Gillette is on background vocals for this album.

Tunes of Two Cities is a truly engaging piece. It is not a challenging listen in any way. In fact, some of the tunes are so memorable, I find myself humming for example - "a serenade to missy" - years after my last listen (the bong bong of an elevator arriving always brings the tune to mind.). Is it political ? Yes, I think so - and the political point is made musically.

This is the instrumental follow-up to 'Mark Of The Mole.' You must have MOTM before you can possibly understand TOTC, even though I find TOTC a better album. In the MOTM, we are introduced to two cultures. The first is that of the Mole People, who live and work in mines, but are forced to surface by some kind of "barometric apocalypse," the song 'Hole Workers At The Mercies Of Nature' describes musically their being forced up from the depths. Moles move to a new area dominated by a modern technological culture. The techies are known as the Chubs, and first are concerned of the influx - "10,000 refugees indeed" they mumble in their ant-immigrant fear. But the Chubs don't like to work, so they get they think that the Moles, who are used to manual labor may be a benefit. Unfortunately, they are very good at handling the machines and they sort of make a mess of it. This is followed by the Chubs successful efforts in automating the work that had been done by the Moles, effectively displacing the moles from the work they had been able to do. Left with no role, there is a "short war" followed by a "resolution" of an indeterminate nature.

This is the background to "Tunes of Two Cities." Unlike MOTM, TOTC is entirely instrumental and alternates between the music of each culture as a way to say something about who each people are. I find the emotional imagery it creates remarkable and of a nature that even similar to what I have experienced with any other music - even other music of the residents themselves. The Chubs' music is jazzy and bright and catchy, but with enough anomalous sounds that the nice impression initially created soon gives way to the disturbing. These chubs have something a bit wrong with them I think. On the other hand, the music of the Moles has the inscectiile and deep mechanical and outwardly frightening sounds that create an ominous impression that later gives way to something else. Though outwardly disturbing and even scary, further listens show them to be perhaps the people more favored by their creators. As the CD progresses, you can note the changes in each song which appears to follow how the cultures are effected by the story line, mentioned above.

I don't have the fourth part of the trilogy (refer to above-mentioned financial disaster for explanation for why there is no third part) so I cant really comment on that.

I have to give this five stars. It is not the height of its genre, it is its own genre entirely. There is absolutely nothing else like it

Nicholas Linear | 5/5 |


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