THE RESIDENTS – Not Available (1978)

Review by: Jaime Vargas Sánchez
Album assigned by: Franco Micale

First, I absolutely won’t comment about the extra-musical aspects, the theory of obscurity, or whatever, as I think it’s probably a put-on.

How to describe it? Hmm, what about this? Imagine Mike Oldfield had gone totally insane right before the first recording session of “Ommadawn” and that might be a nice start. Minimalist synth phrases intermingle with weird voices, tribal-like beats are cut short by Steve Reich-esque signature changes…

The Mike Oldfield comment is not casual, as the ending section of Part One has a repetitive keyboard riff that appears throughout the album serving as a “main theme” of sorts, and it does remind me a bit of “Tubular Bells”. That part had begun with something that I can only describe as “electronic Moros y Cristianos music”, because it reminds me of the kind of music brass bands play in Eastern Spain the festivities that remember the Muslim vs Christian battles in medieval Spain. Which usually resemble Hollywood music like Lawrence of Arabia more than actual Moorish music but you get my drift. Part Two begins with a sax that is treated in the studio to sound like a folk instrument from Hell, segueing into a deranged deconstruction of a piano ballad and then some music that would be great as the soundtrack for a German expressionist film. When you thought that Part Three was going to be almost entirely devoid of interest they manage to set spooky music to an habanera rhythm. The beginning of Part Four sounds to me like a lo-fi version of Air’s “Moon Safari” which again seems to be spliced into a weird Latin-tinged thing. And the album continues with those wild juxtapositions.

In short, here’s an album that I find definitely interesting and might return to, although it does not “resonate” with me, which I don’t think was its purpose anyway. If you find yourself deeply moved by it, I don’t know what that says about you, honestly 🙂

By the way there’s an aspect of the album that brought me memories of my childhood: my grandpa had a Farfisa Matador-R organ from the 70s and some of the tones – and definitely the rhythm box sounds – remind me of it. A lot.
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Author: tomymostalas

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