The sun smiled wanly through the grimy train window as we rattled over the East River towards Brooklyn. My spine throbbed. My shoulders were a nest of tangled vines. It had been a long day. I’m not someone who finds it easy to relax, but Christ, I needed something… So I put on The Residents.
Louisiana’s original mystery men (and sometimes women) have, over the years, captured so many exotic sound-creatures for their musical menagerie that a reggae specimen was almost inevitable.
This particular one comes from their Commercial Album, which, using pop music and advertising jingles as its raw materials, twists them into forty one-minute vignettes of startling, alien beauty. Harnessing elements as diverse as gamelan and Chinese opera to create this ‘commercial’ format, the album’s initial radio promotion prompted a press debate about the nature of art vs. advertising–about which, no doubt, The Residents were delighted.
Love Leaks Out, with its warped staccato guitar stabs and dubby bassline, finds the eyeball brigade in an undeniably skanky frame of mind (albeit not for the first time) whilst remaining swathed in the disquieting sonic mist that is so exquisitely Residents.
One minute may not be considered a great deal of time to ruminate with such haunting melancholy on the transience of love, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, The Residents achieve this without undue strain:
And the marvelous One Minute Movies, also from Commercial Album:
And my god, their version of It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World is just…just…