The Residents The American Composer Series Volumes I & II

Whether one perceives them as deranged, brilliant or as myopic art fodder, one cannot avoid the fact that San Francisco's anonymous eyeball-head-dressed clan is truly unique and, well... amazing. Originally released in the mid-'80s, the group released two albums of their electronic circus-like renditions of homages of the great composers of America. Volume I, the stronger of the two, pays homage to the likes of Hank Williams and John Philip Sousa ("The Stars And Stripes Forever") via their trademark theatrical electronic styling with impeccable respect. Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" is classically Resident-eerie, while Sousa's fanfare compositions are cinematically bound together by an intro/outro of authentic theme park ambience. Volume II is more suited for the cerebrally adventurous with an advanced sense of humour. The Gershwin pieces ("Rhapsody In Blue") are damn well nearly scholastic in scope and James Brown's "Live At The Apollo" (complete with crowd noise and Brown's psyching banter) might plummet an unprepared listener into a mental institution. It is highly unfortunate that the series was aborted prematurely, yet these sparkling re-mastered discs are a prime example of the daring creative eccentricity that the Residents possess. They clearly are a genre unto their own. (East Side Digital)