Saturday, May 12, 2012

REVIEW: The Residents - Coochie Brake (2011)

Around the time that psychedelia was falling out of sorts across the world, there was an emergent force out of the deep bayous of Louisiana who traveled north and west, perplexing the world wherever they went and leaving only mystery and awe upon disembarking from the latest wharfside gig. If The Beatles had changed the way the world saw music from the outside in only a few years before Flower Power met its demise, then this band was shifting new terrain from the inside out...crawling out and about dimensions alien to all but a receptive, whimsical minority.

Since 1969 and counting, an anonymous eyeball-donning outfit known as The Residents have been and still remain the greatest enigma in today's musical world, the godfathers of all that's strange and outside convention in the world of rock n' roll. Sixty-something albums, countless live recordings and many a world-tour later, we are living in the second decade of a new century, and these strange beings from a time before most of us were born continue to dazzle new generations unabated by changes in sonic fashion or whatever major labels decide is worth trending.

It stands to reason, then, that last year's Coochie Brake (the titular marshland where this band supposedly spent their youth) may be the first time any relatively normal music-faring individual has encountered this esoteric ensemble...and they couldn't have found a better starting point.

To elaborate, The Residents only create (basically) two kinds of albums: those which are satirical in nature and/or those which tell some kind of bizarre, sometimes unfathomable tale. Enthusiasts of this bunch will regale you with praise upon their 70's period, the decade where some of this group's unquestionable classic additions to the canons of avant-garde rock were unveiled and released (the ambient histrionics of Eskimo, the unsettling Not Available, the synth-haunted Fingerprince), all of which were concept albums. Coochie Brake continues that tradition via an untypically semi-autobiographical account of the band's beginnings in their swampy homeland.

And it's a hell of a trip, like a dream you were thoroughly immersed within before the waking world reeled you back into the open air of day-to-day sense & logic. Sludgy guitars straight out of the fevered murk, horns, glittering electronic landscapes that juxtapose and enhance the production, topped by menacing monologues echoing above the dim, rich mixture in...Spanish? Guttural mantras reverberate like flesh-formed didgeridoos, and it's all so deliciously voodoo and indifferent to anything the group has done before, much less what anyone else is doing musically at the moment.

It's weird to the point of obsession, and richer than anything this one-of-a-kind act has done in decades. You could die happy with just this on repeat, cycling unto eternity as vague aspirations disintegrate with dawn's untimely arrival at your windowsill.

Buy It Here!

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