The Residents – Meet The Residents

…And what an interesting encounter it has been.

Imagine coming down off of an acid trip in some dusty club in Casablanca. Sam waddles away at the piano, the backing band chimes in with a nightmarish odium, and some drunkards are singing songs of better times in a foreign language you cannot understand. Such is the impression I get with the debut album of the enigmatic art collective known as The Residents. A group of mysterious innovators that have made a name for themselves turning Western musical tradition on its side, the first album by ‘North Louisiana’s Phenomenal Pop Combo’ certainly isn’t an album that agrees with most musical preconceptions I or the majority of others will have when first looking into their work. A lo-fi mess of sounds, half baked musical ideas and a fair amount of uncertainty on part of the listener, ‘Meet The Residents’ leaves a lasting impression, and while still a very hit-or-miss ordeal of the group, there’s no denying that the music’s quirk and charm outweighs the moments that make me want to cringe.

From the album cover alone (a twisted revision of a Beatles’ LP), one can tell right off the bat that The Residents are not ones to take themselves particularly seriously, although parts of the album get dark very quickly. The general sound here is one of concrete experimentation. One part a commentary on pop music, the other a nightmarish big band orchestration, there’s quite a surprising bit done with the generally muddy and undercut production values the album has. The Residents generally crowd around the use of the piano to drive their tracks along, at times bringing in other instruments- be they guitars, or jazzier equipment. All of this may be somewhat straightforward, but it is the way in which these pieces are put together that really makes the Residents one to question.

First off, it feels like the band has some sort of aversion to developing any idea too much, as if they’re scared of the commitment it would entail. While most of the songs generally have a general theme of similar sound going for them, its commonplace on ‘Meet The Residents’ to have a musical idea (say, a piano ditty) suddenly blast into a wave of tapelooped vocal wails. The instruments also often feel out of sync with each other and viciously offtime; poor musicianship, or a yearning to experiment? I would tend to think that the band’s almost drunken style of writing and playing on the record tend to indicate a stylistic decision over any conceivable lack of talent, although of course, this really off-kilter attitude the Residents have is bound to be misconstrued by many. While generally quite dissonant and even uncomfortable for human ears at times, the band does balance it out somewhat with the big band orchestrations; which add some beauty to what is otherwise a sea of confusion.

A huge hit-or-miss album to be quite certain, but the impression the album makes is about as confusing as it would have been had I listened to it forty years ago. Only the most adventurous of music listeners need apply; you have been warned.


1. Boots (0:54)
2. Numb Erone (1:07)
3. Guylum Bardot (1:19)
4. Breath and Length (1:44)
5. Consuelo’s Departure (0:59)
6. Smelly Tongues (1:44)
7. Rest Aria (5:09)
8. Skratz (1:43)
9. Spotted Pinto Bean (5:27)
10. Infant Tango (5:28)
11. Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
12. N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues) (7:16)
*13. Fire
*14. Explosion
*15. Lightning
*16. Aircraft Damage


* James Aaron – bass, guitar
* James Whitaker – piano
* Wool – vocals
* The Residents – everything else

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