Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who was that masked man?

Growing up part of the TV generation, my attention span is such that it's hard to focus on any one thing for too long a period of time. Hell, I can barely get through one of these postings without being totally distracted and losing all interest.

Hence, my love and appreciation for the three minute pop song. Satisfying bite size chunks of music. Yummy.

But there is more. There is 'important' music. Music of substance and intellect that demands more of the listener. Some call it avant-garde while others call it experimental. What it usually is is interesting, obscure and often times terrible.

Although I do consider myself versed in a wide range of musical genres, I don't know a whole lot about the Residents, except what most non-Resident fans know. They are an anonymous, avante-garde group of musical and visual artists who have sustained a long career creating a wide variety of project, garnishing critical, if not commercial success.
Yeah, and?

After some online research (what other kind is there?), I was directed to their 1980 release 'Commercial Album' as an introduction to the band. What I discovered was a collection of abbreviated musical excursions that are both beautiful and perplexing. I'm not sure I get it yet. Maybe I'm not smart enough, too lazy or just not paying attention.

Since I'm not yet entirely decided on the Residents, it's hard to make an assessment as to whether I like them or not. When I think of avant-garde and experimental, I think Zappa. I get Zappa.

This is becoming a lot of work.

So lets switch gears to a more current, somewhat comparative band, one I happen to be currently digging, Liverpool's Clinic.

The quartet, started in 1997, has quietly hovered just under the mainstream of the American Alternative music scene, while amassing a substantial European following with a string of interesting and accessible albums.

More musically structured than the Residents, Clinic's sound is awash in swirling organs and driving tribal beats. I would go so far as to say their sound is akin to the post-punk, no-wave sound of the early 80's. (see: The Contortions, the Fall, The Birthday Party and Throbbing Gristle.)

If any further connection to the Residents can be made, it would be in the band's presentation. Not unlike the eyeball masked members of the Residents, Clinic maintains a certain anonymity behind the guise of surgical masks.

If I can pay attention long enough, I'm certain I will grow to appreciate the Residents as much as I already like Clinic.

Now lets go ride our bikes.

Kaw-Liga-The Residents (H.Williams)
Hamburger Lady-Throbbing Gristle
Free Not Free- Clinic
Walking With Thee-Clinic

The Residents- One Minute Movies

Clinic- Walking With Thee

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