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The Residents - Arkansas CD (album) cover

ARKANSAS

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.74 | 3 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

questionsneverknown
2 stars The Bunny Boy project poses an interesting dilemma for the reviewer, even more so than most of the Residents' work. The problem here is that this particular project involves a multi-episode internet drama series, an album of music based around the series, an album of music used in the series, an album of unused pieces, and a DVD consisting of a newly edited version of the original series, all of which act as parts for a larger (but deliberately holey) whole. What, then, is the work one is actually reviewing?

The entire project revolves around a man, seemingly named Roger, who is using the internet to try and find his lost brother Harvey. Roger was victim of some kind of accident while in Greece (the details of this, though, are vague), and the appeals he makes over the web become increasingly disturbed. We eventually see him donning a full body bunny costume, as if this will somehow help him in his plea. When the series originally ran online, viewers could contact Roger by email to help him find Harvey, and Roger would respond back to you (giving you a chance, perhaps, to actually communicate with a central Resident?). Along the way, Roger starting selling objects from the room he was broadcasting from so that he could get money to go to Arkansas to find Harvey. One could actually go to ebay and buy cheap little knickknacks to "help" Roger. He also went on tour with the Residents to help make his case and earn money. So, ebay and the Residents' tour were also part of the larger narrative (that is, the tour wasn't strictly in support of the album but yet another part of the big story). So what is the work one is actually reviewing?

The block you have just read (and the one you are reading now) will reappear in each review I am offering of each element of the Bunny Boy project. This boilerplate, meant to help connect everything, will be followed by a segment that focuses on what the separate element adds. Overall, what should be recognized is that with the Bunny Boy series, the Residents have pushed the idea of the concept album into a radical new direction in a way that was truly multimedia but that also tripped the lines between art and reality, artist and audience.

"Arkansas" consists of unused tracks or variations of tracks used on The Bunny Boy album. The title refers to Roger's ambition to get to Patmos, Arkansas to find his missing brother. Is that the real Harvey on the cover? Nah, probably just some Louisianian mockery of those on the other side of the border. "Nobody is Listening," "Sad Saint John," "Memories for Sale," "Two Clown Paintings," "My Brother's Skin" and "Circe" were intended for the original album but then left off. "The Bunny Boy," "The Butcher Shop" and "The Black Behind" are alternative arrangements of tracks from the album. "Save the World" is a variation of a song used on the tour.

The inner sleeve also tells us that "The Bunny Boy Comic," by the Residents and Adam Weller, is forthcoming. So, the saga continues?

The ranking of two stars has nothing to do with the quality of the music, as there are some great moments here ("Save the World" is a strong instrumental and I like "Circe"'s channelling of Lee Hazlewood). Rather the rating has everything to do with being consistent with the system here at ProgArchives: this is not an essential album. Its value can be found entirely in the ears and wallets of the already converted, the fans and collectors. At 33:35, it's also a pretty short deal. Is that an Arkansas thing?

Overall project: 4; this album: 2.

Also see: The Bunny Boy, Postcards from Patmos and Is Anybody Out There? (DVD).

questionsneverknown | 2/5 |

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