The Residents - "Randy's Ghost Stories" DVD Review (MVD Visual) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Residents - "Randy's Ghost Stories" DVD Review (MVD Visual)

The Residents - 'Randy's Ghost Stories' DVD Review (MVD Visual)I missed The Residents’ Talking Light tour (late ’10 – early ’11) so I don’t have the complete context around the band’s new DVD, Randy’s Ghost Stories, but I've read some reviews of the tour that stated that portions of this disc were shown on the backdrop at the live show.

Randy’s Ghost Stories is a collection of eight ghost stories and two bonus videos that feature newly composed music from The Residents. These stories aren’t for children or the faint of heart as the subject of the stories include serial killers, psychosis and self-destruction. Each story is narrated (most frequently by “Randy”) and feature off-kilter and disturbing music from The Residents and “bad acid flashback” animated videos. This aura of unease is accentuated by the visual “twisting” of the narrator’s image so that, visually, they look either completely mad or like one of the wide-eyed waifs from the Dondi comic strip. All of this is punctuated with a few TV commercials for food from the 70’s and 80’s that highlight the “perfect” American family and this serves as a striking contrast to the severely dysfunctional people narrating and described within each story. The common thread between each of these stories is that each of the narrators are tortured (whether they acknowledge it or not) by ghosts from their past.

"What are ghosts" ask The Residents - spirits of those no longer inhabiting the flesh, but unable to leave their lives behind? Or could ghosts be a manifestation of something even less tangible, like loneliness, unfulfilled desire or isolation? In a world where nearly everything has become defined and categorized, how do we fill our obvious, purely human need for the fuzzy, vague and supernatural - with TV commercials?

The ghost stories include:

- The ghost of a morbidly obese woman who haunts her lesbian lover, filling the void of death with food and Dr. Phil;

- A man who becomes obsessed by the spirit of an executed serial killer who stuffed the mouths of his victims with Pudding Roll Ups, an extinct kid's food from the 1980's;

- A dead boa constrictor named Leonard (after Leonard Cohen) that plagues the mind of its former owner, who is currently consuming Oscar Meyer hot dogs by the dozen and

- A man who killed his wife while sleep-walking and now believes that his dead wife is giving instruction to their daughter on how to kill him.

The two bonus videos are interesting ventures into the surreal. “Mutts with Mustaches” features an exploration of visuals (with what looks to be tribal photos mixed in) and colors set to an instrumental soundtrack of Eskimo-style piano, keys and swirling background sounds. “Walking Women” is visually set like an early 60’s documentary and follows the evolution of, and is narrated by, a desert. The desert tells the story of a forest overrunning it, eventual man-driven deforestation and the land returning to the desert. This vignette ends with women who have come to (randomly) walk in the desert.

While some discs are perfect for late-night viewing with the lights low, this is the sort of disc that will have you turning on all the lights and checking the locks on the doors. While this disc is disturbing, it is a worthy addition to The Residents’ catalog.

The Residents