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The Residents - Eskimo CD (album) cover

ESKIMO

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.88 | 92 ratings

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TCat
5 stars This is as avant prog or art rock as things get. "Eskimo" is a unique album by The Residents, the kings of strangeness. This is not music in any conventional sense, it is a musical painting which depicts the life in the cold, cold north country, way up north. This is an album full of electronics, percussion, sound effects and talking/chanting in another language, mostly processed vocal sounds that become part of the music/picture.

The Residents have been around for a long time and they are still producing music to this day. Those who know The Residents know that they have explored some interesting territory, but as weird as their music can be, it usually has some conventionality to it. This album, however, goes on beyond those conventions and it ended up getting The Residents some credibility and high praise among the critics. Listening to the album, you get an odd sense of loneliness and remoteness, but also some insight into a different style of life. I don't know how accurate it is in portraying their lifestyle, but it is how I would imagine as far as the feeling of the music. Some of it does seem satirical, it is The Residents afterall, but the orchestration and composition of the music is admirable.

The gatefold on the vinyl contains some text that help explain the story behind the concept of the album and what is represented in each section of the album. I don't know if that text exists on any other format that might be out there, but it might help give some insight to the music. As unconventional as this music is, it still has a certain attractiveness to it that makes it appealing to listen to. Not everyone is going to understand the music, but it is definitely a masterpiece in originality. I would only suggest it to those that have had some experience in The Residents sound so that it is not a complete shock.

I have to say that the first time I listened to it, I knew it was going to be different, but I underestimated the fact that it is not a complete farce. I unknowingly played the record at 45 rpm and was thinking that it was a complete waste of time until more than halfway through, I realized it was playing too fast. That's how unconventional it is, there was no reference point that I could recognize that would prove that the speed was way to fast. Of course, it sounded a lot better at slow speed lol.

As other reviewers have said, the first time you hear this, you probably won't get it. But the more you listen to it, and the more you listen to other Residents albums, the more it makes sense. Again, think of it as Art Rock, that the sounds are a depiction of Eskimo life, and it will make more sense. If you listen to this out of that context, you might think it is a bunch of aliens worshipping the great god of the outer darkness of the Ramula solar system or something. (on acid). But knowing what the concept is certainly gives it a lot more meaning. If anything in The Residents discography should be considered a masterpiece, then this is it. (I can think of others, but this is the one that should be the pinnacle of their massive discography.) 5 stars for originality and a groundbreaking avant-prog album (released in 1979 and ahead of it's time).

TCat | 5/5 |

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