The Residents - "Ten Little Piggies" CD Review (Ralph Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Residents - "Ten Little Piggies" CD Review (Ralph Records)

The Residents - 'Ten Little Piggies' CD Review (Ralph Records)After reviewing The Residents’ Randy’s Ghost Stories DVD and Lonely Teenager CD, I wanted to go back to where the music from the band’s Talking Light project first surfaced. In 2009, The Residents released a “futurist compilation” entitled Ten Little Piggies which consisted of fourteen tracks from ten projects that may or may not be released in the future. “The Unseen Sister” and “Talking Light” (both from the Talking Light tour) first surfaced on this compilation.

With The Residents’ music shifting in focus in recent years to more narrative-based stories, this disc is a nice change of pace. Aside for The Bunny Boy and Talking Light tracks, Ten Little Piggies is predominately comprised of complex and innovative instrumentals that almost sound like something from a David Byrne & Bryan Eno collaboration. These instrumentals range from atmospheric, cinematic soundscapes to complex, polyrhythmic percussion-driven tracks to minimalist avant-garde. As this disc served as the jumping off point for many of The Residents’ recent and upcoming projects, this is essential listening for anyone wanting to hear where the band is heading next.

Here is the breakdown of the ten projects:

Duck Stab Re-Imagined - The album, Duck Stab, was recorded in 1979 at the height of the "New Wave" era. It epitomized everything that was good about New Wave: catchy, raw and above all fiercely independent. But that was 30 years ago and the Residents thought this would be a good time to rethink this quirky recording. The rethinking was conceived as a live performance connected to a gallery exhibition of New Wave art.

The Voice of Midnight: Instrumental - Perhaps no project The Residents have ever recorded produced as much material as The Voice of Midnight. This 2007 opus not only produced the album, but also a shorter work, The Sandman Waits, contributed to a collection of songs called Smell My Picture, and the parallel universe album, The UGHS! The Voice of Midnight was theatrical in style so in order to showcase the music, often overshadowed by the album's narrative, this instrumental version will be released through The Residents download store at

Strange Culture (OST) - The Residents wrote a minimalist score for Lynn Hershman Leeson's 2007 film, Strange Culture, (combined two short sentences here) based on the surreal nightmare of internationally-acclaimed artist and professor Steve Kurtz.

Arkansas - Since it was based on the unpredictable story line found in The Bunny Boy internet series, the Bunny performance also evolved over time, with new music being added to the show as it toured. Ultimately, some of the music written for the project was never used, so now these extraneous pieces of The Bunny Boy will be released as Arkansas.

Tweedles: Instrumental - Following in the footsteps of the successful release of River of Crime: Instrumental and Animal Lover:Instrumental, Tweedles: Instrumental will be more than just non-vocal versions of the songs. Instead, the album will be a three piece suite that was originally written to represent air, earth, and water. Originally, the project's working title was "Tabasco" and over time, it evolved into "Casanova's Clown" until finally becoming Tweedles.

The UGHS! - When The Residents begin work on their 2007 opus to insanity, The Voice of Midnight, the group felt the need to shake things up, consequently they created an alter ego through which they could act out new roles. Proudly, The Residents christened this conceptual alter ego as THE UGHS! The group then fashioned "written music" from the raw, impulsive ideas created by The UGHS!, building the musical structure of The Voice of Midnight on these pieces. Two years later these original UGHS! recordings were rediscovered; freed from its previous role supporting The Voice of Midnight's narrative, the music suddenly sounded as fresh as when it was first recorded. The time had come to resurrect THE UGHS.

Talking Light - The Residents have wanted to experiment with looser forms of music and lyrics. Talking Light is designed for performance and is based on a mix of improvisation and scoring. The concept for this project is interpretive story telling with an interactive electronic score.

Hades - Dark, abstract, scary. Hades was originally composed to accompany an art opening, but when the exhibit was postponed the recording was misplaced and not incorporated into the eventual opening. For years this music has been ignored, waiting to be heard and appreciated by anyone whose taste runs toward the unpredictable and the macabre. Not for everyone.

Haeckel's Tale (OST) - The Residents were commissioned to write a score for this Showtime film, but for unspecified reasons the music was not used.

The Bunny Boy Live - When The Residents toured their epic adventures of The Bunny Boy in 2008, the show was shot as a special for French television. Media from this documentary is expected to surface in 2010.

Continuing to use this compilation as a jumping off point, The Residents will be releasing a special-edition 2CD version of their new forthcoming album Coochie Brake (due in 2012) which includes a second CD of music that did not make it onto the album. Coochie Brake is a swamp in Louisiana and the music on the album is described as warm and damp. Officially, Coochie Brake will be the second release under The Ughs concept.

The Residents