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The Residents - Gingerbread Man CD (album) cover

GINGERBREAD MAN

The Residents

RIO/Avant-Prog


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4 stars I am no "true" fan of progressive music, I don't intend to make a very learned review about this album or to compare it with other albums or bands of this genre. Nevertheless I wish to give my point of view about it, which is that this CD is a must in itself. Never have I heard such a thing, it is really original and breathes with something unusual and uncanny. You cannot remain neutral when you listen to this, it puts your mind in a very particular and peculiar state. The macabre look of the lay out speaks for itself, and the strange singing and eerie music give the impression of an almost grotesque melancholy. It makes it all quite hypnotizing. Moreover, the lyrics are very cleverly written and tell several stories about enigmatic characters which eventually can be considered as a whole representation of our sad and modern human life.
Report this review (#49503)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Almost underground cult band The Residents recorded there kind of half-spoken, minimalistic played, with some electronic loops, album. Is this music unusual, experimental? For sure. It this music progressive avant-garde? I am not sure.

Very theatrical short compositions could be a good soundtrack for some unreleased movie. (Originally album contains PC-based animation on it). I can hear some deep tradition of FZ or Captain Beefheart there. But do these short grotesque minimalistic/primitive musical pictures have separate value as musical work? Ten compositions, 35+ minutes of ... music?

"Once upon a time I played an electric guitar and they said I was a rock 'n' roll star. Now nobody calls me on the telephone, so I sit and watch my TV all alone. Maybe if I put a bullet in my brain they'll remember me like Kurt Kobain. And the parasites on MTV would wipe their eyes and act like they knew me. But I wouldn't be a hero I'd be dead. Just a corpse beside a note that read. If you like to pretend you'll never get old, you've got what it takes to rock and roll."

Hmmm, ok, let say RIO ...

I believe that RIO/avant is one of most unpredictable area of tastes, everything there could be beautiful and terrible at the same time. Watching from musical point of view , I can't find attractive sides in this album. Or, let say, watching from prog-avant point of view.

Possibly not my cup of tea, but I hardly will listen this again.

Report this review (#263274)
Posted Friday, January 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Where the Residents' previous album, "Freak Show", was a character study of performers in a carnival freak show, set to some lush and eerily beautiful music, this one, which also has some character studies, is much more restricted.

First of all, each piece begins with the same theme, with slight variations, before it veers into the theme of the character of the song. Because of this, each song is much to similar in rhythm and tone. It makes it very difficult to differentiate between each track. Adding to this, many of the lyrics are obscured behind vocal affectaions and digital effects. Even the talents of Todd Rundgren as some of the characters doesn't help much.

I hate to say it, but The Residents actually made an album that could be described as boring.

Report this review (#325759)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
historian9
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Site Admin / JRF Team
3 stars As soon as the band started with concept and story albums, there was maybe more emphasis on lyrics and presentation which doesn't mean it's bad music but it's more of an way of delivering ideas around. As they progressed through the years I really do think now that every RESIDENTS release got more and more like an soundtrack to the actual album; I don't know if it's because internet piracy or just because the band wants to their listeners greater experience with bunch of artwork, animation, movies, God knows how much booklets with more info on lyrics and such.

This CD originally went along with animations that would describe each of the characters in the songs. Like "Freak Show" before him, "Gingerbread Man" contains one song per character; culminating in 9 characters with Gingerbread Man going in and out of songs at random as well wrapping it all up in his last song. The theme that begins "The Weaver" of The Gingerbread Man song might sound cool at first, but then it surprises you because it repeats itself for the next 9 times. The music itself is almost completely the same every track, with just a bit of variation for every character which does grab your attention because you're hearing it all the time so every change is noticeable. The format of the songs is basically the Gingerbread Man tune which follows the character in the song singing in verse, maybe a bit of interlude here and there, and the rest of the song (usually a good half of it) is the said character in spoken word, or mumbling, yelling, whatever the case may be. The album is obviously something that you listen with lyrics in your hands as the spoken word can sometimes be too hard to grasp.

Other than that, I find the album interesting and if you're ready to ignore the negative points it might interest you too. There is no actual plot going on except Gingerbread Man who just sort of observes the characters. Characters aren't freaks like on the last album but everyday humans whose inner thoughts we hear. Sometimes they might be weird or dark but on some level I can see that some might relate to them (weaver who is paranoid her child will die on the way from school, butcher jealous of his coworker etc.). I should mention that these thoughts throughout the album mostly focus on the depressing feelings and never arise from that dark space of modern life. It really isn't for everyone and should definitely be listened along with animations as intended.

Report this review (#662269)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
TCat
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Team
2 stars The Gingerbread Man originally was a children's morality tale. Of course The Residents have to twist it all up until there is no semblance to the original story at all and then they have to make it depressing and dark. This is a concept album where the main character of the story, the gingerbread man of course, listens in on various other characters which have certain characteristics as noted in the titles of the songs. Each one of these tracks follow the same basic formula: start off with a variation of the main theme, then the character sings one verse of his own melody followed by the character talking about his or her fears and paranoia. Charming, isn't it? At the end, the main character sums everything up. The voices are done by 3 different guest singers, one of them being Todd Rundgren. And no I am not a Rundgren fan, so that doesn't help.

The instrumentation isn't too bad, it does have a little more to it that a lot of the minimalistic mood of a lot of The Residents albums. Of course, since it is from the period of time when they were exploring a lot of electronic sounds, there is a lot of processed sounds and fabricated instruments that sound like synthesized music. There is more to the music here however, but since the main theme is repeated so many times and it seems that each character's themes flow from that theme causing each song to sound similar in atmosphere....usually dramatic and dark. There are some interesting moments, but the same formula gets old after a few tracks.

There was a interactive CD-Rom that went along with the music that apparently shines some light on the music, as far as the meaning and the lyrics which at times are hard to understand. The interactive program had a lot of outcomes depending on how you interacted with it, but it isn't enough to save this one. The production is good as far as the music goes, but it just isn't one of The Residents better endeavors, even though they worked hard to get their cult following by producing strange albums usually with some thread of an idea flowing through. I have to admit it is fun to explore their music because their discography is so immense, and sometimes they hit on something very interesting and innovative, but, this one is just too dark and repetitive to want to listen to very often. I can only squeeze 2 stars out of this one because most people just won't be that interested in this unless they are fans or collectors.

Report this review (#1394953)
Posted Monday, April 6, 2015 | Review Permalink

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