Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Residents


The Residents are an American art collective best known for avant-garde music and multimedia works. The first official release under the name of The Residents was in 1974, and the group has since released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects and ten DVDs. They have undertaken seven major world tours and scored multiple films. Pioneers in exploring the potential of CD-ROM and similar technologies, The Residents have won several awards for their multimedia projects. Ralph Records, a record label focusing on avant-garde music, was started by the band.
Throughout the group's existence, the individual members have ostensibly attempted to operate under anonymity preferring, instead, to have attention focused on their art output. Much outside speculation and rumour has focused on this aspect of the group. In public, the group appears silent and costumed, often wearing eyeball helmets, top hats and tuxedos — a long-lasting costume now recognized as its signature iconography.
Its albums generally fall into two categories: deconstructions of Western popular music, or complex conceptual pieces, composed around a theme, theory or plot. The group is noted for surrealistic lyrics and sound, disregard for conventional music composition, and the over the top, theatrical spectacle of their live performances.
The Residents hail from Shreveport, Louisiana, where they met in high school in the 1960s. In 1966 the members headed west for San Francisco, but after their truck broke down in San Mateo, California, they decided to remain there.
While attempting to make a living, they began to experiment with tape machines, photography, and anything remotely to do with art that they could get their hands on. Word of their experimentation spread and in 1969, a British guitarist and multi-instrumentalist named Phil Lithman and the mysterious N. Senada (whom Lithman had picked up in Bavaria where the aged avant-gardist was recording birds singing) paid them a visit, and decided to remain.
The two Europeans would become great influences on the band. Lithman's guitar playing technique earned him the nickname Snakefinger, after his frantic playing on the violin during the performance with the Residents at the Boarding House in San Francisco 1971, where his fingers' speed made them look like snakes in the eyes of the less-musically proficient, but imaginative Residents.
The group purchased crude recording equipment, instruments and began to make tapes, refusing to let an almost complete lack of musical proficiency stand in the way.
Like all information pertaining to the early days of the band, this is provided by The Cryptic Corporation and may or may not be invented.

 Much of the speculation about the members' true identities swirls around its management team, known as the Cryptic Corporation. Cryptic was formed as a corporation in California by Jay Clem (born 1947), Homer Flynn (born April 1945), Hardy W. Fox (born 1945), and John Kennedy in 1976, all of whom denied having been band members. (Clem and Kennedy left the Corporation in 1982, much to the chagrin of some fans.) The Residents members do not grant interviews, although Flynn and Fox have conducted interviews with the media.
Nolan Cook, a prominent collaborator with the group in both the band's live and studio work (as well as being a live member of I Am Spoonbender), denied in an interview that Fox and Flynn are the Residents, saying that he has come across such rumors, and they are completely false. However, Cook himself is considered a member of the band by some, as he is known to wear the same head coverings as the rest of the group during live shows, even wearing the trademark eyeball mask during the Wormwood tour.
William Poundstone, author of the Big Secrets books, compared voiceprints of a Flynn lecture with those of spoken word segments from the Residents discography in his book Biggest Secrets. After noting similar patterns in both, he concluded "the similarities in the spectograms second the convincing subjective impression that the voices are identical." He posited that "It is possible that the creative core of the Residents is the duo of Flynn and Fox." A subset of that belief is that Flynn is the lyricist and that Fox writes the music. In addition BMI's online database of the performance rights organization (of which the Residents and their publishing company, Pale Pachyderm Publishing (Warner-Chappell), have been members for their entire careers), lists Flynn and Fox as the composers of all original Residents songs. This includes those songs written pre-1974 (the "Residents Unincorporated" years), the year Cryptic formed.
Simon Reynolds wrote in his book Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978–1984 that "The Residents and their 'representatives' were one and the same", elaborating on one of his blogs that "this was something that anybody who had any direct dealings with Ralph figured out sooner rather than later." Reynolds quotes Helios Creed, who identifies The Residents as a keyboardist named "H", a singer named Homer, and "this other guy called John"; and Peter Principle of Tuxedomoon, who claims that "we eventually figured out that the guy doing the graphics and the engineer in the studio were in fact the Residents."
Cryptic openly admits the group's artwork is done by Flynn (among others), under various names that, put together, become Pornographics, but the pseudonym is rarely spelled the same way twice (examples: Porno Graphics, Pore No Graphix, Pore-Know Graphics); and that Fox is the "sound engineer" – meaning that he is the main producer, engineer, master, and editor of all their recordings. (Since 1976, the Residents' recordings have all listed their producer as "The Cryptic Corporation," presumably meaning Fox in particular.) Many other rumors have come and gone over the years, one being that 60s experimental band Cromagnon shared members with the band.
Most recently, the group's Facebook presence lists the members of The Residents as "Randy, Chuck and Bob". Furthermore, a synopsis for their 2012 stage production Sam's Enchanted Evening provides the name Randy Rose as that of the Residents' lead singer. While it is clear that the Cryptic Corporation has chosen to share this information publicly, no further confirmation—nor any context as to the roles of "Chuck" and "Bob" in the group, or if these names are, indeed, the names of the group's members—appears to have been issued to date.
Historical - Legacy of The Residents
download discography via torrent here