The Cryptic Corp proudly presents a new album from The Residents that is entitled God In Three Persons. It’s a double-length LP, the first in their long history, and has been pressed onto clear vinyl. The cover art is visually striking and may not be to everyone’s liking, but since when has that been a worry for this group?
The opening track sounds very odd if only for the fact it’s not strange by standards of the mainstream. Keyboard, bass, drums and strings are accompanied by a voice that sings in a tone that is quite lovely. Already we know that this album is the first in what will become a brand new direction for this band: replace the strange with the normal, the casual punk with business formal, and let the story take center stage.
“It’s stranger if it’s normal.”
The music must be somewhat subdued in order to give the breathing room the narrator needs to tell us his tale. But it doesn’t just sit aside and function merely to provide something to listen to when there is no talking. It meanders and moves right along with the vocal, making songs and not just accompaniment to unrelated words. And that perhaps is its strongest aspect: it allows the listener to accept the narrative as something not so extraordinary… at first.
But of course the story is weird. For anyone who may have feared The Residents have gone straight, nothing could be further from the truth. But perhaps for the very first time the music does not align itself with the words in terms of oddity. By providing a bed of normalcy the music sets the story free to jump off from that point and to explore. In the past The Residents would have been more than content to grab the listener with a shocking start, but by using first person point of view they get to pull the audience into a tale far more twisted than any they could have told before. The story opens in much the way as any that could happen every day – namely, a chance meeting of strangers on the street. Our narrator meets a pair who have a certain savoir faire that isn’t explained to us at the start. Mr. X immediately sees a money making opportunity in exploiting the charisma of these two. And so it is for all of side A – it sounds like a man who wants his way with a potential lover he has found. But then we get to the second side where the narrator finally provides us with the details that had been present all along: these two are Siamese twins and have a special power within them to heal the sick and even raise the dead. If the story had started here it would have been difficult to steer the listener along the same path the narrator’s journey takes.
“We live this story too.”
And it is this narrative tool – a very gradual deliberate pull from the ordinary to the outlandish – that encourages the audience to invest themselves in the protagonist’s quest through the story and not give up from the start. The Residents have proven to be storytellers beyond any degree that they have demonstrated in the past. Here is a story of betrayal, redemption and how love prevails – not happily, but also not without hope. Though the details are peculiar, the emotions are quite familiar to anyone who has experienced love and loss.
There are some who will take offense at the subject matter The Residents have opted to use in writing this magnificent album. And for that I am distraught, for the greatest barrier to developing thought is an aversion to that which one finds distasteful. This is clearly their best work to date and I would absolutely hate for it to be marginalized for its sometimes shocking nature. Sometimes you must look well past the prejudices you have amassed in order to find a deeper truth of life.