The new single from The Residents gives us a small glimpse into what a post-Bobuck world for them might be like (though it’s unclear at this time if some of his work from early in the project survives in this recording).
And… it does feel strange to talk about members of this group as one would any other band. Until Mr. Bobuck retired, it seemed just another facet of the games they play – a way to bend the concept of identity and question reality. There has long been speculation that the group’s membership is fluid (actually, more than speculation I think that is core to the concept), but it’s never been so explicit before.
So now a realization hits: Residents with identities are Residents who can leave. And this was explicitly stated at the beginning. As soon as we were introduced to the trio, we were told the fourth member, Carlos, had left. It seemed like a joke at the time – and maybe it was – but in retrospect it’s become much more.
They are definitely at uncertain crossroads (as depicted in the artwork), with potential failure ahead of them, but definite failure if they refuse to move forward. In the interest of self-preservation the chance must be taken, despite any unintended consequences.
So the group remains fluid, with Rico stepping in to fill vacant shoes or, more likely, to show off an entirely new pair. If he’s supposed to be an invisible replacement then he’d be named Charles Bobuck. He’s not, so I expect nothing more from him than something completely new.
And this song does push into new, or at least minimally chartered, areas for The Residents. It has a ferocity I don’t think I’ve heard from them before. Even their rendition of “Satisfaction” with its unhinged guitar still has a slower tempo and feels more laid back than this. This has a fury and rage driving it, like some industrial-fused punk band.
But it can’t be representative of the album (for what single ever is?) so I won’t make any assumptions based upon it (and if anything the new direction is temporary, with the b-side being so different, and also why would they suddenly settle into a pattern after all this time?). But production-wise one difference I hear is how the vocals are mixed; I’m used to Residents vocals kind of lying on top of, or existing somewhat separate from the music, and this has them right there in the trenches, as it were. Should I expect to hear that going forward, or does it just work with this one track? We shall see.
The single is accompanied by a music video, their first standalone video since, I believe, “Harry The Head” from Freak Show. There have been other new videos (most recently with Icky Flix and The Commercial Album DVD), but those were for video projects in and of themselves, and not separate promotional tools. This could indicate a renewed interest in marketing, but more likely it has grown out of more video work coming from The Residents in the past few years. Of course it doesn’t hurt that there just so happens to be a new studio album on the way.
There’s so much going on in the video that I don’t know where to begin, or if I should begin at all. We’re inundated with images, all screaming for our attention. It’s madness and hysteria, but at the same time it’s all contained within little boxes. The entire video itself is enclosed in a box – the computer screen and even the YouTube window within that – so any comment it makes about the clips it also makes about itself.
All in all it is organized chaos – a perfect description of The Residents themselves. Other performers attempt to duplicate The Residents but few succeed. I think some see only the chaos and miss the organization. Not only is there a method to the madness, the method comes first, which effectively nullifies the madness.