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The Residents - Pollex Christi CD (album) cover

POLLEX CHRISTI

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.31 | 7 ratings

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questionsneverknown
3 stars "Pollex Christi," or, as it is also known, "The Big Toe of Christ," came out in 1997, and is quite an atypical piece from The Residents's quite atypical canon. It first appeared as the initial offering by their label Ralph America, and was the first in a now long sequence of limited numbered editions. It has subsequently appeared in the box set "Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses," "Roosevelt 2.0," and "Best Left Unspoken Volume 1."

There are a number of things that make this one quite unusual. The first is that it claims to be a composition by the mysterious N. Senada. Senada, who supposedly came from Germany, was obsessed with radical new means of phonetic composition, and was chanced upon by Snakefinger, either in a Bavarian forest or in the Arctic, who subsequently introduced him to the Residents. Believe what you want to. The important thing is that N. Senada featured large in the early mythology of The Residents, but he hadn't been mentioned in well over a decade and a half when "Pollex Christi" came out.

The other unusual thing about this work is that it is a quasi-classical composition of five movements, supposedly written in 1936- 1937. (Again, believe what you want.) Like one of Conlon Nancarrow's player piano pieces, this is an automated kind of music, in which The Residents seem to have fed written compositions through a computer for the machine to play. They credit Senada's companion "Max Steinway" as the player. Furthermore, none of the music is composed per se, but is a true piece of postmodernist collage. All of the elements are from other songs, beginning with the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth, moving to citations of Orff and Bach, as well as featuring the themes from Peter Gunn, Star Trek and Popeye. The theory goes that anyone could make a piece like this, using different "bricks" from other songs to form a new wall and building.

While perhaps a slight and whimsical piece from The Residents's large body of work, it really offers quite a joyful and elegant listen.

questionsneverknown | 3/5 |

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