Mark of the Mole (1981)

This was the first of a trilogy of albums (plus one 12″ single) that marked a break from the alien pop phase and the start of larger projects. This is also the last album before The Residents embraced sampling technology and quite radically changed their sound. Here the mysterious ones brilliantly create subterranean atmospheres in order to portray a clash between two different cultures, the Moles and the Chubs.

The music is complex and yet suitably epic. They really play with textures. When the old man sings his song a shrill tinny guitar stands out over deep booming synth frequencies and at the end of the first side as the Moles come a'marching, rhythmic (unsequenced) synth lines twitter like crazed robotic birds. Resolution? is the sad little tune heard at the end as, in an unsteady peace, both sides count their dead. This story was transformed into an epic show which they then took out on the road. Actually we never did get part 3 of the mole trilogy come to think of it, but we did get part 4.

This is a funny one. On one hand it's a clever piece of work, with lots of really good bits in it, and some inventive playing. But on the other, it doesn't really get going, or leave you totally satisfied at the end. I suppose this is partly because of it being part of a "trilogy". Some of the tunes are better done on the Mole Show LP. An irritating dark masterpiece.