"Fall is a time to say goodbye to summer as the days get shorter and living things prepare to embrace dormancy."
The warm, sun-heated concrete felt soothing on my bare back. It would have been far too hot to have done this a month earlier, but the sunlight was warm and comfortable today. It isn't as intense this time of year.
I was in a semi-meditative mode and enjoying the warmth of the waning season, my mind turned to the news about Hardy Fox, who, for over four decades has worked under the radar as the mysteriously anonymous composer for The Residents. Last week, Hardy basically said goodbye to everyone. Apparently something to do with his brain.
Thoughts of hospital environments filled my head as I visualized the beeping and whirring of medical equipment and other unmistakable sounds associated with hospitals. In my mind's eye, I could envision his environment. I imagined him to be unconscious, but mindful of the many subtle and ambient sounds around him... the accompaniment to his transition from life to...?
I reflected on the fact that Mr. Fox would never compose again and wondered, how long he will endure before his time expires in this world. At that moment, a nearby raven intruded upon my meditation, and as if in reply to my mental query, it belted out the unmistakable words, BACH IS DEAD. I wondered, "Did I really hear that or am I just caught up in this mental exercise?" I kept my eyes closed, leaving my imaginations of the inhospitable hospital, and began focusing intently upon the sounds around me. And, again, I heard the raven proclaim, BACH IS DEAD. The visitor* repeated his message a few more times, before flying off. That was weird.
Within a few days, it was announced that Mr. Fox had died and now I'm reflecting upon the impression that his compositions have made on me personally. I first discovered The Residents in 1979 and was immediately intrigued by the originality of the music and the mystique of the band's spooky and dapper persona. The music has been the soundtrack of my life since. I could go on and on about that, but others have memorialized Mr. Fox, therefore I'll forgo doing so here and recommend the NPR article by Jason Roth.
Hardy Fox is a legend. A mostly unknown legend, but a legend nevertheless. His music will live forever.
Best Vinyl 2018
And with Hardy Fox in mind, none of this year's Best Of victors would exist without his influence.
For 2018 we present a trilogy of unrelated, yet related records whilst giving special attention to originality and focusing on really neat special edition vinyl and unique presentation.
I AM A RESIDENT by The Residents
I doubt that The Residents have ever received a best of award for anything other than being named most weird or most unusual. That all just changed.
The Residents are appreciated for their indefatigable propensity for completely unique and intriguing material that is always surprising and possesses an edge of dark relevance in an ever changing world. The Residents projects are always on the cutting edge of technology, alchemically wedded to art.
The Residents put the eye in idea and in 2017, announced their new project. As usual, it was something no one had ever done. The Residents invited their fans to submit their own versions of any Residents song. The favorites would be included on the I Am A Resident album. But the end result was nothing like anyone had imagined.
The Residents received nearly 200 submissions of fans' cover songs and soon narrowed it down to fifty. The fans were allowed to vote for their favorites and a lucky handful made the final cut, including Chesty Vulva with three winning submissions.
The final product was reinvented as a cohesive interwoven mish-mash of the cover songs with The Residents playing and singing along with these fans. It definitely sounds like The Residents too... whatever that means.
The 12" vinyl version contains seven tracks: mix mashed versions of the winning submissions. Now that vinyl is the rediscovered popular thing again, The Residents bucked the trend by issuing an extra special CD version that contains an extra disc with 24 additional tracks. The tunes on disc two are entries that have not been tampered with by The Residents, a fulfillment of or return to, the original concept.
The Residents kick started the I Am A Resident project with some Pledge Music incentives, one of which being a very special vinyl record; A Vast Fusion of Nice People, The Residents - Vinyl Art
There has never been a record anything like this one. Three pieces snap together to create a 12" one sided record - three tracks, (one per ring).... and there are only twenty-five of them, (records not sections. There are 75 of those). According to unconfirmed information sourced from an internet rumor mill, there are four different colored versions, green, red, blue and brown. But no one knows for sure. Not even Santa, (it didn't make his list). Here's a short video clip demonstrating this amazing record that I found on The Residents Bookface page.
I Am A Resident is best appreciated by the most hardcore fans whose familiarity and personal attachment to The Residents make it a necessity, although anyone can enjoy it. Probably not most people, but some... maybe ~ maybe not
SUBJECTS by Chesty Vulva
As noted previously, three of Chesty Vulva's submissions were included as part of the I Am A Resident release. The Subjects record had been in the works before the I Am A Resident project and, as fate would have it, released on the same day as I Am A Resident, giving it some attention and momentum that it otherwise might not have received. And, the response has been great. People really like this record.
Subjects is a beautiful record. Beautiful in many ways, musically and artistically. From the first note you feel as though something profound is happening. And you WILL feel.
Although Subjects is inspired by The Residents, it certainly doesn't sound like them and stands on its own merits. One of my favorite records in many ways.
Wake up in a dream of flying monkeys, scarecrows and witches. One can't miss the overt Wizard of Oz theme which is emphasized on the cover art and lyrics.
Subjects was released on CD, individually numbered, standard black vinyl and two special colored versions, green and yellow. Some of the yellow versions have streaks of green and red that create a lovely effect and contribute to the Wizard of Oz theme, (ruby red slippers and the Emerald City).
Chesty Vulva is the brainchild of artist, Brian Salazar, and Subjects is their first release on vinyl. Salazar ambitiously played all of the instruments on all of the tracks except one and wrote all of the songs with the exception of one. The name, Chesty Vulva, comes from the assumed lyrics of a Morrissey song. Salazar isn't even sure if the lyric is correct, but it seems to be the perfect name for his band, so Chesty Vulva it is. You can't unhear Chesty Vulva.
Chesty Vulva went the extra public relations mile sending Christmas cards to everyone who purchased Subjects. There are also T shirts, stickers, pins and magnets available at the official website.
.Subjects is an outstanding record that gets better and more interesting with each listen. It's one of those records that is easy to listen to. again and again.
INTRUDERS by The Residents
Released just weeks before Hardy Fox died, Intruders is an unexpected treasure of music and product.
Psychofon Records released three very special vinyl editions of Intruders and its companion 7" single, The Intruder. The Die Hard Edition is limited to 111 hand numbered copies, The cover is printed on a transparent film and the vinyl glows in the dark.
Another version of Intruders is pressed on special UV sensitive material that glows under black light. Absolutely stunning beauty ensues.
Last but not least is the yellow vinyl version - limited to 250 copies.
Included with the Die Hard Edition is a one sided 7" single of the song, The Intruder; a track not included on the LP or CD.
Psychofon Records also released a lovely violet version of The Intruder single that includes a demo version of the song, Voo Doo Doll on the B side. Limited to 100 copies.
And, as if that isn't enough, Psychofon also released a mini CD of the single, The Intruder/Voo Doo Doll (Demo Version).
Keeping with the trend-bucking theme of presenting the compact disc as viable and attractive, the CD version of Intruders includes a nifty booklet in addition to three tracks that don't appear on any of the vinyl versions.
Hardy Fox doesn't appear on Intruders and a keen ear can detect his absence. It has been suggested that some of Intruders was composed by Fox around 2012. Although Fox doesn't appear on Intruders, his influence is undoubtedly present.
RIP Hardy, and long live The Residents.
*grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore"