Demons Dance Alone

The Residents

The Cryptic Corporation, 2002

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


This review is written out of a certain bizarre sense of duty. See, I don't think we should be missing any major artists here on the DV; I like to think that if someone has someone else as an influence, we should have at least one review by that artist. Somewhere. Somehow.

The avant-garde cognoscenti know what the Residents are. They've influenced a great deal of artists, some of whom you might have even heard. But man oh man, they're tough to review.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

See, the first thing I generally try to give in a review is genre, so you have some clue of what the hell I'm talking about. The Residents have no genre. Or, rather, they are a genre of their own, recording for thirty years in the twilight-Dada world of Music Too Weird To Be Quantified. Their music is a spinning Cuisinart of styles, instruments, time signatures, and vocal approaches. Think Captain Beefheart, think Zappa, then go even weirder. You either get the Residents or you don't, and it's no fault of yours if you don't. I think I do, but the jury's still out; get back to me when I've listened to them a bit more.

There are a few things I can tell you. Demons Dance Alone is impeccably performed and produced. The sound is clear, clean, and eminently listenable on its own merit. Individual instrumental highlights like the hi-hat cymbal on "The Weatherman" and what I think is a bass saxophone on "Caring" are breathtakingly well-recorded. The same goes for the vocals; alternately male and female, growling and yodeling, wistful and ominous, they're all engineered and mixed wonderfully.

The music, though, leaves me without adequate grasp of the English language to explain. There are moments that you can almost get your brain around -- "Ghost Child" seems to be about a lost and dead child, "Betty's Body" seems to be about pinup star Betty Page, and "Honey Bear" is one of the funniest descriptions of a dominant/submissive sexual relationship I've ever heard. Then there are the moments like "The Car Thief," "Mickey Macaroni," and "Make Me Moo" that are so far out in the Fishbowl Of Surreality that I can only hold on to the kinkajou and surf along for the ride.

Oddly enough, though, I like it. Damned if I can tell you why -- perhaps I merely lack the appropriate mental antibodies to fight the Residents' infection -- but I'm intrigued. I want more. Gods help me.

You may, too, find the Residents to be something worth checking out. Darned if I know. But aren't you just a little curious now?

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Cryptic Corporation, and is used for informational purposes only.