Given the time it took to record their second album, I would not have expected another release from Renaldo & The Loaf for at least three years, but here’s one relatively on the heels of Arabic Yodeling. I had predicted that their music would continue its trend of calming down and they’d likely find themselves doing film soundtracks before long. But that trajectory may have been altered through a direct interference by The Residents.
These two groups have combined forces to create Tittle In Limo. More often than not, collaborative efforts are dominated by one of the participants and sound like a standard album with a special guest appearance, but this feels like a true partnership. For the most part it seems like Renaldo & The Loaf are responsible for the music with the Residents providing lyrics, though there are a few instances where the opposite happens (“Sitting On The Sand”) or something emerges that’s not easily assigned to one of the constituent groups (I find “Africa Tree” to be the truest marriage of the two).
Sometimes Turtle In Lima takes our normal expectations of what these artists do and mixes them. “Woman’s Weapon” sounds like a Residents lyric sung by Renaldo while “Horizontal Logic” is the mirror. There is little information about instrumentation, but I’d not be surprised if the artists swapped roles in that regard as well. Drums played by a guitarist, and vice-versa. All in all, they have done a very good job in assigning performance duties to make this a singular album. With few exceptions, these songs would be out of place if recorded and released by either one of these groups.
However, there are moments when Toggle In Lambda feels a bit rushed or unfinished. “Sitting On The Sand” has just one musical idea, a repeating loop of a guitar with nonsense lyrics filling the short space of a minute and a half. “Horizontal Logic” is similarly short and obtuse, but this time with a quiet driving pattern. “Monkey And Bunny,” conversely, is a long song with good but abbreviated lyrics. But this in no way makes Tootle In Loco a bad album. It just makes one long for more. If this it out there, what else is to be found? This is a great album that has a few faults that work well to enhance what it does well.
Tattle In Logo has no overarching theme or concept, despite the similarly titled “Intro: Version” and “Extra: Version” (a friend of mine claims that any record that has a reprise must be a concept album). For The Residents this is the second in a row – I wonder if their Mole trilogy is losing some of its creative appeal? Perhaps they have found themselves painted into a corner and were looking for a way to break out, and this project is an attempt to do that. An outside influence is often just what is needed to get out of a rut. Maybe it is Renaldo & The Loaf who are going to change the trajectory of The Residents, and not the reverse. But as Mr. Belmont reminds his physics students down the hall, nothing actually survives a collision completely intact – it just works out easier that way on paper. So I expect that both of these groups are going to have a significant change in their next offerings.
Though Total In Llama may have been born out of convenience or creative stagnation, the result is much more phenomenal than a mere distraction has any right to be. I hope it acts as the roadblock breaker the groups need (The Residents need to get back to themed projects; Renaldo & The Loaf need to work more quickly), but I would not be at all disappointed to see more albums like this. Take two idiosyncratic artists and see what happens when you put them together. It can’t always be magic, but it can often be interesting, and when it works, it works very well.