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The Residents

I Am a Resident

Review by Gary Hill

This is intriguing album. Then again, can't you say that of anything from The Residents? I mean, these guys embody a progressive, no rules attitude to music more than just about anyone else. For this set they invited fans to submit versions of their songs. Then they took those renditions and worked them into new pieces in a sort of mash up approach. This double disc set includes quite a range of sounds. You can count on quality and a sense of the absurd, though. Isn't that really the heart of The Residents' music in a lot of ways? The CDs aren't numbered, but rather each has a title.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Am a Resident!
             
Intro

Drums serve as the background for a German voice. Then we get a radio station idea for an All Residents station (in English). The cut continues by shifting and turning through some various ideas in this odd sort of weirdness. There is a DJ talking from there  about The Residents.

Lingering Illusions
Coming in electronic and strange, this is tasty stuff. Rhythmic, electronic and so cool, there are vocals that are sort of whispered. This moves along with freaky coolness. After a "doors opening around" section the cut shifts to something a bit like weird jazzy space music. It continues to evolve from there with a playful piece of odd music. Don't get too attached to any section of this as it is continuously shifting and changing, working through various movements as it makes its way forward. Parts lean more toward mainstream rock (but suitable Residentsed up), while other sections take it further into the oddity zone.  A mellower sound continues this with a texture that's closer to mainstream progressive rock. It has an intriguing electronic angle to it. It shifts toward a percussive movement after a time and the strange explorations continue from there. After the twelve minute mark it seems to end, but an oddly dissonant mellow section rises up and works forward from there to take the piece out.
Hanging by His Habit
Techno and industrial in nature, this is freaky stuff as it rises into being. Dropping to an almost acapella voice after a time, this continues with almost a twisted beat poetry concept for a while from there. Then the arrangement gets lush and electronic as it also becomes twisted in part because of crazed laughter. The piece continues its strange journey, working through various shifts and changes. There are some particularly freaky parts to this. A trippy kind of jazzy, electronic music serves as the background for a spoken monologue that earns a serious parental advisory. The changes continue from there with all kinds of explorations emerging. There is even a cool melodic, almost soulful mellower section after the twelve minute mark.
Freaky Wake
Hard rocking sounds and odd bits of sound jabbing into the tune create the early parts of this. Those jabs remain as the piece works to sort of a playful kind of exploration has an almost jazzy vibe. It turns to more of an electronic jam from there, but the changes continue to ensue in rapid succession. There are some almost creepy parts around and after the three minute mark. It shifts outward from there to a bouncing kind of oddity to continue. I really dig a bass driven section around the six minute mark. The track turns rather jazzy after that as it makes its way through. A stripped back arrangement takes it into its next vision. Vocals come in over the top of that concept. It resolves outward to another intriguing piece of music with some weird vocals over the top of it.
Hello Duck Stab
Bell like keyboard textures bring this into being. As it works forward there are hints of world music and more at its heart. I dig the cool computer voice that appears before the first minute is over. The track moves forward with some killer concepts. It's noisy, synthetic and tasty. Then it seems to end, and a new movement that's almost more mainstream progressive rock emerges. It's fast paced and so cool. That seems to end and percussion rises up to take it forward. Weirdness is merged with odd voices and that percussion as this number continues. Then a more melodic movement that feels a bit like weird soundtrack music takes over from there. The changes come fairly quickly with weirder sections interspersed with things that are almost mainstream. Weird textures that take over around the eight minute mark have some interesting vocal elements over the top. A weird sort of melodic reprise of earlier stuff comes into the number further down the musical road. It eventually resolves to rather mellow and melodic stuff right at the end.
Commercial Bells Toll
Bells bring this into being and it moves outward from there. Percussion (both tuned and non) are a bit part of the arrangement here. By around the minute and a half mark this has built out into some freaky music with some synthetic voices. There is an almost classical music element to this along with serious oddity. A whistling section takes over after a transition, Then music box like sounds take control. The piece continues to shift and change from there. Weird female vocal emerge after another transition. Tuned percussion is the backdrop for those. Then it works to more strange stuff with a real freaky musical element. Eventually a fast paced, rather techno jam emerges. This gets potent and pretty freaky as it drives onward. A voice driven section eventually ends this.
Outro
Trippy and rather unsettling textures open this number. It works out from there to a cool fast paced jam that's equally freaky. A vocal driven movement takes it after a time, and the cut continues to work forward with a number of changes and intriguing music. A false ending a little before the two and a half minute mark gives way to percussion, and the DJ returns. After the DJ finishes a rather jazzy little jam emerges and the cut continues with a melodic, playful kind of vibe. Vocals come in over the top of that with a processed weirdness to them. That section eventually ends the piece (and the first disc) in a rather fun loving way.
And So Are We... (Exclusive Bonus Versions)
                 
Kick a Picnic ( The Meet Café)

A rather whispered vocal opens this. The cut grows out from there to something that's a lot more of a Gothic techno rocking jam. There is definitely a sense of evil to it. It has a new age angle, as well.

Smelly Tongues (The Zverstvo)
With a jazzy texture and a screamed, snarled vocal delivery, this is very freaky stuff. It's also very cool.
Moisture (Ok Glass)
Another with a lot of jazz built into it, this is bouncy, fun and short.
Picnic Boy (Dr. Fritz Rotwang)
Another quite short piece, this is high energy, electronic and a lot of fun.
Boo Who (Cult with No Name)
With a lot of piano at its core, this is a melodic and powerful cut that's very much tied to mainstream prog rock. I'd consider this the "gateway drug" of the album.
Hanging by His Hair (Wizards of Boat)
While there is some noisy distorted guitar here, this has an almost symphonic bombast to it. It's tastefully bizarre and very effective. It earns a parental advisory.
Loss-The Weatherman (Danny Spiteri & Jason Hallyburton)
This is a trippy kind of electronic jam that's quite effective and accessible. The vocals are processed.
Death in Barstow (Cake Boy and the Caker Street Boys)
After a weird little introduction, this works out to a freaky kind of jazzy jam. The vocals are so bizarre, but it works. The cut dissolves into some seriously weird stuff.
Six Things to a Red Bicycle (Skull in the Crow's Eye)
Trippy electronic textures are the concept here. There is almost a Vangelis or Synergy vibe to this thing.
Hard & Tenderly (Utrom)
Energetic and synthetic, this is like Kraftwerk does The Residents. It's so cool in a distorted, freaky, video game kind of way. The vocals are processed, feeling robotic.
Forty Four (Point a Pistol at the Sun)
More of a straightforward guitar rocker as it starts, once the vocals join this reminds me a bit of Hawkwind for some reason. Sure, it's still The Residents, and there is also a punk edge to this, but I could easily here the might Hawkwind doing this.
Rest Aria (Couvercle)
This instrumental is hard rocking and very cool. It gets pretty freaky at times and really has intriguing shifts and turns. The general vibe is just so alien and yet almost accessible. This is actually one of my favorites here for some reason.
Constantinople (Philip Stranger)
Electronic in nature, this is crazed and cool. The vocals are processed and the tone of this piece is so classy and weird.
Picnic Boy (The Beaches)
I dig the bass on this cut. The track is bouncy and quite fun. In some ways this reminds me a bit of Primus
Boowho? @fivethingspercycle (Uni)
Starting with a spoken thing, the cut rises up from there with some definite weirdness. This is quite trippy and yet sort of a rubbery kind of groove.
Would We Be Alive (Gretnoid)

A flute type instrument opens this. The cut works out from there to sort of an electronic groove. There is  processed, trippy vocal part to it. I love the cool section at the end with the waves of the ocean mixed with electronic musical textures. There is a freaky kind of insistence to the section that comes after that and serves as the ending.

Margaret Freeman (The 180 Gs)
Fast paced, dramatic and quite weird, this is also so cool. There is a twisted kind of bombast to it.
Floyd (Ark)
Echoey, trippy instrumental stuff is the concept here. There is a loud bass element at points, and that gets more involved as this moves forward. It shifts to a hard rocking jam further down the musical road. The sound of an unhappy baby ends this.
Tribal Teddy (Philip Stranger)

Tribal percussion leads this out, and weird music and vocals come in over the top to continue.

Burn My Bones (Thebizarreone)
Trippy processed sounds and other elements create an alien soundscape here. More musical elements rise up after a time and work it forward. It gets quite dense and involved as it makes its way forward. Gregorian chant like stuff merges with dogs at the end of the piece.
Hello Skinny (Halfcutlemon)
Gothic hard rocking stuff with a real glam vibe is at the heart of this song. I'm reminded of David Bowie in some ways. This is such a cool cut that starts out slower and gradually gets faster and faster. It's mean and so cool.
Smelly Tongues (Tom-Erik L?e)
Here is another that's more of a straight-ahead hard rocker. It's also very cool.
Hanging by His Hair (Chesty Vulva)

With a clapping percussive element at the back of the introduction, that section is playful and quite mellow. It powers out to screaming hot hard rocking stuff from there to drive things forward. This gets a parental advisory.

The Aging Musician (Jeremy Maloney)
An old fashioned country music kind of vibe is the concept here. I dig some of the odd guitar soloing on this thing.
 
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