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The Residents - Not Available CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.96 | 115 ratings

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5 stars The atonal voice harmonies,the swaggering attitude,the subtle synths,The crude anti-pop textures...It's all here.Without a doubt,this was my first residents album and definitely my most favorite.Why it is my favorite,I really don't know because this album can actually almost make me feel sick at times just listening to it.I guess that is why this album has to be one of my most beloved masterpieces.And I do consider this a masterpiece.I'm about to tell you why.

When you hear some form of music that seems rather bad to taste,you simply turn it off.No real impression left on your mind.When you hear music that sounds familiar to your favorite music like for instance The Beatles you continue to explore it,you give it permission to sway you along.After listening to an artist like The Beatles for so long you become pretty attached to their characteristics (vocal harmonies,great consonant chord progressions,light use of peculiar instruments for added subtle textures,gentle passages with rocking choruses).Overall it is things that you think make up great music.

Then later on down the road you come to find music that defies the kind of music that you have been in tune to for years,in this case the Beatles.Say for example you come across a Metallica album.It doesn't seem to fit your style so you put it off.You might just come back to it later on but for now it doesn't make much of an impression on you.It doesn't quite fit your required elements of what makes good music but you can also note some similarities.So it might grow on you later,you give it a second chance.(Please be patient,dear reader.I'm getting to the conclusion for all of this as soon as possible!)

Now after a while has passed,you now like both The Beatles and Metallica and you can also note some similarities between the two which helped you like the latter in the first place.

More years have passed and you have grown an even bigger musical taste for music.The small and innocent taste that you once had for The Beatles has added other flavors along the way,like for instance heavily distorted guitars and masterful musicianship.So now you also like Metallica,Led Zepplin,Rush,Pink Floyd,etc..I shall remind you once more that these added flavors all sprung from the core taste you had as a child.

Now you're getting old and you've prety much heard thousands of bands,some of them you like,some of them you don't.But they all vaguely but undeniably share that same root structure,that same root feeling that you got when you heard the music of your childhood.It seems to go around full circle,no loose ends.

But then when you least expect it (and this is the part that I was trying to get to),someone you know, a nice friend, out of nowhere suggests an music artist that you haven't yet heard.You think that this artist won't sound much different from the thousands of bands that you've already heard,like Iron Maiden or Aero Smith.You figure that you've already heard it all and that this new artist will seamlessly fit into the "circle of music" that you've formed in your mind.It might fit into the metal side of the circle or the pop side.You don't know which yet but you're sure it will fit in there somewhere.

So what do you do?You don't think this new artist will make much of an impact on you but you don't want to be rude to your friend,so you take the suggestion kindly and look up the artist,you find an album of theirs,then finally you pop it in your player,expecting the same old feel of music that you've felt all along

Then it hits you.By the time the first track is half-way done you start to realize that those nice and gentle vocal harmonies,the usual distorted guitars,the predictable beats and fills, and the casual solos,well,they are totally absent from this song.Even the "feel" that you got from other songs and artists has suddenly vanished.Like a newborn baby,you are born again in the world of this song.And what's even more frightening, this song seems to be anti-everything you've heard before.And I'm not talking about typical rebellion like punk had against prog.I'm talking about the total opposite of everything that you've stood for in music.This song destroys your expectations,pulls you from the sky and drags you back down to earth.It's like everything you thought you knew about music has suddenly become an almost meaningless tiny part of a greater whole.You have just started back at square one.And from this whole experience,this almost reincarnation, you start to get a little sick from the immensity of it all because it's just so...different.You don't know how to approach this new discovery let alone even knowing how to leave.And all this happened with just one song.

This is how Not Available by The Residents hit me.

Sure I've heard of Captain Beefheart.I've heard Frank Zappa.I've even heard Unexpect.But even those bands I was still able to tie at least one relation between them and other bands I've heard of in the past.So they didn't complete knock my senses out cold.But The Residents?My god, I've never felt so musically lost in my life.It's like they took my whole view of music and turned it completely inside out and upside down.This is why Not Available made me feel almost sick to listen to it.And even if I wouldn't dare listen to it casually it would not do this album justice to give it anything lower than five stars.It may take unnecessarily high distorted noise or complete colossal interweaving frantic dissonant musical textures to make someone put their headphones down and call it quits.But it takes a real oddity,a real alien of a musical work to make you almost sick and ironically at the same time make you listen to the whole album through without any rational explanation of why you did.It is a tangle of contradictions this album.

And need I go onto what the album holds?I would sound truly dumb for trying to describe it all.It has to be heard to be believed.Simply put,you cannot put this album into words.One thing I can vaguely try to describe is how the lyrics seemingly create these repulsive yet pitiful characters.They seem to be trapped in world that seems almost hopeless,with such a saddening environment that never makes any sense to the listener,like everything is out of whack and nothing ever works.So you can kind of see where I'm coming from when you hear the singers in this album.God how they sound so hopeless!Their characters mention nothing but illiterate nonsense ("But when a friend has shrunken skin where do you throw the bone?").It sounds as if they live in such a small,dark nihilistic world that is made of only fragments of questions and never any answers to fit the puzzle.But there are these unexplainable moments in the album where some passages seem to almost be upbeat and happy.And as a consequence it's almost as if the music itself is the worthless hope what keeps these useless characters living on in the wretched hellish world that is Not Available.This also contributes to the sickness that I get when listening to this album.I have never felt more sorry for imaginary characters in an album my entire life.To me these characters are almost the equivalent of the hopelessness that awaits children who grow up in the middle east and are given no choice but to be taught nothing but hate for infidels so for the rest of their life they are brainwashed and become martyrs who waste their lives away just so they can kill a few people.I'm not kidding,this album left such a strong impression on me when I started to really pay attention to the lyrics and everything else musically.It's all just so sad,it leaves a sort of "what's the use" kind of despair because the way the songs chug along just seems to feel as if the The Residents are "neglecting" the songs themselves,like leaving children out on the street to die.Notice how the beats of the songs sometimes just seem to lazily drift all over the place with no remorse for rhythm.But if you listen closely you realize that The Residents truly do not neglect their songs at all.They spend great amounts of time creating each one.It's just the feel that you get from this album that makes it feel that way.

But of course this review is just my impression of the album.And though I may have treated it in a dark manner, you might get a completely different feeling.But I guarantee you that it will be a strong one.No other album has given me such a strong feeling of despair before and though I definitely don't like that kind of feeling at all I can certainly appreciate how music has the power to make you feel that way.It reminds us all that music is still an important factor in the development of a human being.It helps us all to feel alive in dark times.And eliminating music from schools like we are now will only lead to drastic consequences.This album is proof that you don't have to be a guitar god or a virtuoso composer to make moving music such as this that can open your mind so much to more horizons.


Spellcraft | 5/5 |


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