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The Residents - The Bunny Boy CD (album) cover

THE BUNNY BOY

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.78 | 31 ratings

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questionsneverknown
4 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.

"The Bunny Boy" album itself rather than being the origin for the whole project is more of an imaginative attempt to tell Roger's story in a song cycle. Having said that, I'm not sure how much a listener could discern the story entirely without having also watched the video series. Regardless, it's a strong album, probably the Residents' best since "Animal Lover" (2005). It should be noted that much of their work in the Noughties has involved a form of narrative or storytelling music (certainly true of "Tweedles," "The River of Crime" and "The Voice of Midnight"), a form they explored earlier in "God in Three Persons" (1988). But these other projects can involve just too much narrative if you're not in the mood. That is, a narrator tells a compelling (and usually disturbing) first-person narrative over a musical backdrop, and it's that voice that dominates the work. To put it badly, those projects aren't ones that you would likely find yourself putting on as background while you are trying to get some reading or writing or billpaying done. While "The Bunny Boy" has predominately narrative moments as well, such as on pieces like "Pictures From a Little Girl" and "I Killed Him," it is the music and singing (well, you know, Residents-type singing) that comes much more to the fore here. Sometimes the mellow, sentimental crooning that began to creep in on Demons Dance Alone (2002) can be found here, on songs like "Secret Room," but if that wasn't your kind of thing, there are also plenty of rough and edgier moments, excellent keyboard motifs and abstract patterns, moody harmonies and angular guitar.

Of everything that has arisen so far from the Bunny Boy project, this (alongside Postcards From Patmos) stands most strongly on its own and rewards generously with multiple listens.

Outstanding tracks: "Boxes of Armageddon," "My Nigerian Friend," "It Was Me," "Blood on the Bunny," and the truly beautiful "Patmos."

Overall project: 4; this album: 4 (3.6ish, rounded up).

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

questionsneverknown | 4/5 |

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