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The Residents: Icky Flix

This collection of music videos from San Francisco's mysterious conceptual cult art-rock group The Residents is the kind of disc you can put on during a party and, depending on your friends, either score a hit or immediately clear the room. Known primarily for appearing in top hats and tails and giant, piercing, bloodshot eyeball masks (except for Skull, whose mask is a mishapen black skull), The Residents have churned out close to 30 albums since 1974, each comprising eerie, dissonant, haunting, and often darkly funny songs. Icky Flix collects 11 previously made music videos and film shorts along with six newly created animations to accompany some old tracks. To keep things fresh, The Residents have also re-recorded each song, and both the original and new versions are available to accompany each video. Some of the group's early videos are stunning masterpieces of the short form, such as the rough black and white imagery of "Third Reich and Roll" from 1976, the disorienting photo collages of "Hello Skinny," and the astounding, frightening, and gripping surrealist vision of director Graeme Whifler's "Songs for Swinging Larvae" by Renaldo and the Loaf, a Residents tribute band. Of the newer material, mostly computer animated, the most notable pieces are the mezmerising "Burn Baby Burn" from the group's recent Biblical album Wormwood and the heartbreaking 10-minute saga of "The Gingerbread Man." A few of the new pieces are too long and lack context — such as "Bad Day on the Midway," which is a series of images from a 1996 CD-ROM — and short on purpose or narrative structure. However, if you can get your hands on this CD-ROM, or their earlier effort Freak Show, they are profoundly disturbing creations. The Residents certainly aren't for all tastes, but for those with a sense of aesthetic adventure and a ken for some freaky shit, they trump all who dare to play their game. Icky Flix is playfully presented full-frame with amusing scatalogical animations. The songs are presented in their various original audio formats, as well as new versions in Dolby Digital 5.1. The disc also includes a couple of Easter eggs: Look out for the floating eyeballs in the corners of some menu screens and take a peek at an electrifying live performance from the Wormwood tour, amongst other treats. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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