Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
on June 6, 2014
A 1977 early Residents album is an intriguing listening experience. Snakefinger's guitar is here and that's a good start for "Fingerprince". There's a lot of brass instruments and the voices are audible and legible. The CD version features a bunch of extra songs that were actually from the EP "Baby Fingers". Originally intended as a three sided LP the project somehow was interfered with so this CD kind of gives it to us the way it was intended. Side one has short songs, side two has a lengthy epic in 6 parts and side 3 is an EP.
You Yesyesyes (3:00) opens the album with quirky synths and toy trumpets. Home Age Conversation (2:02) has oddball warblings on vocals, and repeated keyboard phrases. Godsong (3:42) is very weird, phased vocals chant and a rhythm of dissonant synths and brass try to make sense of it.
The short ones follow with instrumental March De La Winni (0:59), and minimalist chanting Bossy and (1:02), one minute movies really signalling the forthcoming "Commercial Album" in 1980 that was all songs less than a minute like a bunch of ads. Its amazing what you can slot into one minute; Residents are masters of this.
Boo Who? (2:49) is a quirky thing with boo hoo as the main chant and bizarre vocals in the verses; too monotonous to return to. Tourniquet Of Roses (3:14) has a jazzy sound, agonising brass, tortured synth and strangled vocals.
From "Butterfingers" EP is the addition of Monstrous Intro/Death In Barstow (2:03), Melon Collie Lassie (2:54), Flight Of The Bumble Roach (2:13), and Walter Westinghouse (7:56). Monstrous Intro/Death In Barstow is very different to the other album with a more lo fi minimalist vibe and thin drawling vocals. Melon Collie Lassie has more thin vocals and a deep rumbling bass synth that reminds me of the Residents albums to follow in the 80s. .
The real highlights of the EP are Flight Of The Bumble Roach, which is a manic demented voice over a rumbling and monotonous synth sequencer. This is highly experimental but all the more endearing as a stand out. Walter Westinghouse is an excellent track, perhaps the best on the whole album, and the Louisiana accent is a feature and lyrics making fun of Elvis; a target of The Residents along with The Beatles. This is an 8 minute song so has a lot of various sections. There's whispering, clinking, deep synths, loud strange nasal vocals, minimalist instruments, unnerving melodies, dark nursery rhymes, quirky humour, nonsensical lyrics and various characters; sounds like a Residents song to me. The last two minutes are almost unlistenable.
Six Things To A Cycle was originally in 6 parts on the vinyl but is put together as a 17:50 epic on the CD. It starts with innocent birds and percussion, then a scream that unnerves you. Lots of bells and tinkerings follow, and I am already totally lost and we still have 15 minutes to go. The bells tinker away for quite a while and are joined by odd chants. This is like an endurance test until we get to an ascending droning noise; a melancholy sound. It sounds like hitting glasses filled with levels of water with a triangle striker, and a sad synth played in another room somewhere. After a while this lengthy piece is too much for the ears and I am well and truly over it before the 10 minute mark. It ends with a repeated synth brass motif and it just goes on and on ad infinitum.
'You yesyesyes again' closes the album, bookending the thing as a kind of cycle. Overall this album is very inconsistent with some great moments and others you wish had not made it to the final cut. It is what it is and like most Residents albums is a hit and miss affair. I can manage 3 stars for some of the better material and the addition of the EP but this CD is quite a slog to get through in its entirety.