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February 20th, 2013 ROBERT HAM | Music Stories
 

Primer: The Residents

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Formed: In 1969 in San Mateo, Calif.

Sounds like: The history of popular music and modern art as viewed through a funhouse mirror, with aspects coming into focus then warping out of proportion. 

For fans of: Matmos, Negativland, Laurie Anderson, Andy Warhol, Moondog. 

Latest release: 2011’s Coochie Brake, the band’s 47th full-length.

Why you care: Any attempts to pin down the Residents are fruitless. For one, you have no idea who you’re trying to capture: The art-rock group has remained completely anonymous for nigh on 45 years, preferring to hide behind a series of costumes, including its now-iconic eyeball masks. The band is responsible for some of the slipperiest music ever recorded. The Residents’ first single, “Santa Dog,” initially released in 1972, is a jagged chunk of denatured surf guitar and stumblebum rhythms—which, legend has it, received its first airplay on KBOO. From there, the group incorporated fusion jazz, acid rock and space funk; wildly reinterpreted Elvis Presley classics (1989’s The King & Eye); created a musical based on lesser-known stories from the Bible (1998’s Wormwood); and, on Coochie Brake, created soupy New Age/ambient epics with Spanish narration. The Residents return to Portland to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Santa Dog,” and perhaps drum up some interest in its Ultimate Box Set: all of the group’s 60-plus releases and your own eyeball mask packaged in a refrigerator, and carrying a price tag of $100,000.


SEE IT: The Residents play the Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th Ave., on Friday, Feb. 22. 7 pm. $25 advance, $30 day of show. 21+.

 
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