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The Residents - Not Available CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.96 | 114 ratings

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3 stars Possibly - actually, scratch that - definitely, the only group capable of out-Zappa-ing Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention for pure, unadulterated, full-on weirdness, the surrealist American group 'The Residents' have carved a long and successful career out of creating some of the most uncompromising 'music' ever recorded. 'Not Available', an album which was released in 1978 but purportedly recorded several years earlier and then locked away(hence the title), is, for those of you out there who have yet to discover the 'delights' of this zany troupe, a perfect illustration of everything that makes 'The Residents' what they are. To call it music per se is a bit misleading, and though there are occasional melodies and instrumental passages, the way the material is constructed is almost anti-musical, bequeathing it with a truly whacked-out avant-garde ambience that makes Zappa sound like Katy Perry in comparison. Seemingly the product of several damaged imaginations, 'Not Available' is filled with strange voices, weird, semi-improvised interludes, much instrumental madness and deliberately obfuscating noises. Listening to it from beginning to end is bit like recounting a bad LSD-trip whilst half asleep and having watching a particularly crazy Alejandro Jodorowsky film with a blind-fold on; a chastening experience indeed. There are smatterings of melodic moments, such as some fairly-pleasant keyboards on 'Edweena', but each time a pretty musical passage arrives it is quickly usurped by some mad mumbling or discordant madness from one of 'The Residents', determined as they are to prevent anything they create from ever sounding like anything remotely 'normal'. Those of you who are interested in discovering this unique group beware: actual tunes are in short supply. 'Not Available', though by no means their weirdest release, does feature occasional inspired moments of surreal humour but the place to start for the uninitiated should be 'Duck Stab/Buster Glen', a much more melodic album that retains the groups chaotic sensory style but also tones down the insanity to almost acceptable levels. To call 'Not Available' a progressive rock record is a bit like calling King Crimson a pop band, they do feature elements of prog, but they are few and far between an the link is tenuous at best. Still, there is very little in the modern musical world that is as fiercely original as a Residents album, and they have to be heard to be truly (dis)believed. As a piece of music 'Not Available' is clumsy, discordant and slightly disturbing; as a deliberate attempt to subvert the conventions of modern pop music however, it works wonderfully, displaying the group's keen wit and sense of the absurd. For those who can take it there are many dark thrills to be had, but for those in search of good progressive rock the message is simple: avoid like the plague. This is stern stuff and is very definitely not for the squeamish. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
stefro | 3/5 |


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