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The Residents



3.96 | 114 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Just as it begins to feel accessible, the disharmonious vocals return and blow it all out the door.

The Residents continue to push boundaries over and then they topple to the ground in a pile of rubble. With this album the actual musicians are anonymous and perhaps even confined to a bunch of guys messing about in a studio. The music seems thrown together on a whim and nothing makes sense. There is some esoteric concept mixed up in it but good luck in deciphering it. It begins with 'Edweena' that has a ton of horn and percussion competing together. The high-pitched vocals get on the nerves until it all changes its mind and we are on another time sig with slow meandering nonsense. The instruments are out of tune and there are no chord structures to latch onto. Of course all this is what The Residents revel in. They challenge the forms of music and mock us for listening to it.

'The Making of a Soul' is the best thing on this album with mass attacks of asylum music and wilful switching of ideas. Primitive drums have a bash and then later we have lush strings and twisted keyboards. The vocals are disconcerting and badly done on purpose. The weirdness is compelling but it may grind on the nerves after about 10 minutes.

'Ship's A' Going Down' is a case in point as it is too stupid in places to appreciate. The vocals are deplorable and this is very hard on the ears from the beginning. The high strangeness will appeal to the Avant fan but you have to be dedicated to lunatic music to return to this on a regular basis. At 5:15 the vocals mercifully cease and there are nice atmospheric horns that are improvised but generate relaxing textures. The next section is a pleasant synth motif that is very ambient after all the oddball whimsy. At 8 minutes a new passage of music begins with some low end synth and wah wah guitar, and I like this part in particular.

'Never Known Questions' again is part 4 of this incoherent story, beginning tribal percussion, and urgent synth lines. Just as it begins to feel accessible, the disharmonious vocals return and blow it all out the door. The vocals state to "spot the rot", a theme that surfaces on other albums. The next section rasps with trippy lyrics that make little sense; "When Edweena made me mushrooms, She ate the grate and ground the groom; My mother made me eat boysenberries, But my gracious sakes just ate me first. Calling cards and polling wards are just to many... See? Calling cards and winking bards are just a way to see." After this nonsense there is an Oriental piece of music that fades up.

'Epilogue' reprises vocals and music on 'Edweena, and the synths become prominent at least ending on some decent music.

I am not a huge fan of this preferring "Commercial Album", "Meet The Residents" or "Third Reich N' Roll" but nevertheless this will leave some spellbound with its high strangeness. For me it is all a bit too much, making me feel nauseous, and I prefer to move on to other Residents material. Still it is noteworthy for its unusual structure with 5 tracks that attempt to tell a tale. Whether there really is a tale or not will remain The Residents' little secret. I suspect that it is all just an incoherent challenging album designed to make us wonder what the heck we listened to in the first place. One for the extreme Avant music connoisseur.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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