The Residents - Meet the Residents (1974), 8/10

A landmark release for experimental and tape music from a group who would break free from music conventions for years to come. A wonderful combination of droning, surreal sounds with catchy madness. Their use of repetition creates earworms that are endlessly pleasing mixed with the eclectic anti-pop that the Residents would expand on. The Residents were always surrounded by a shroud of mystery, and their debut combining blues, classical music, and jazz initiated their cult following and represents the pinnacle of their sound. Starting with a herkie jerky 'cover' of "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" is a perfect opener to this acid trip of an album, as is the closing 'cover' of "Nobody but Me" all entirely constructed on tape. Although the record is shrouded in chaos, dissonance and humor, it is actually quite beautifully crafted and flows with an odd sense of grace. It is truly a droning, hypnotic experience much of the time, interrupted by moments of brilliant insanity. Meet the Residents is sure to either nauseate or enthrall its audience but I am of the latter camp. There is rarely an album that has a more fine-tuned focus in vision, execution and album flow, experimental or not. The first side of the record practically plays as one epic song, aurally liquefying from one track to the next. The group’s vocals may be an initial turn off but are a vital part of the experience and humor, as they will continue to be for proceeding works. The songs are not only pleasantly eerie but also hosts an abundance of sonic manipulation and use of raw noise. Yes, these songs are ‘weird’ but that should be an obvious precursor to a group with The Residents’ reputation. I wouldn’t go so far as to say their music is the strangest, far from it in fact on a record like this one, but it is still out there. Rather than being purely bizarre, it (appropriately) more sounds like the result of alien lifeforms attempting to create moving music based on a combination of all available sounds and a focus on novel, industrial sounds. It hosts a wonderful unpredictability that keeps things fresh, even from one side to the next shifting in tone and pace just as needed. Your experience may be very personal and specific as there is so much to grab onto, one of the virtues that gives Meet the Residents such personality and its outlandish trademark both from fans and critics. You certainly won’t hear anything like it no matter how far and wide you may search, yet there is enough of a familiar skeleton behind the deranged hysteria to please the budding avant-garde devotee. Just as with most highly creative and forward-thinking music, it takes time and undivided attention to penetrate, but the reward is more than worthwhile. It is not as intimidating as many other experimental albums, and in fact can be compared more accurately to reprogrammed, transmuted, and amalgamated krautrock and pop music. Meet the Residents is an unmissable, unmistakable and unequivocally inventive album everyone should experience.