Hard to tell if this is The Big Bang of contemporary pop music or its collapse. Head-twisting and ear-bending. Definitely an album of two sides. Side one demands and commands your attention throughout - you never know what's coming next. The quintessential Residents album, showing the full breadth of their vision and their (developing) abilities, it begs to be called 'strange'. And so it is. But the key is printed right there on the sleeve: "Let the strangeness wear off.. and you, too, will whistle the merry tunes". And you will.
MTR (or how to make a record with a tape recorder, a piano and your mam's kitchen utensils) is hardcore residential stuff and can only be enjoyed by those who have done their homework. Also if you are an upcoming sound engineer this record is a invaluable tutorial in analogue recording techniques. Persevere with it, and you be glad you did. Discover new, positive things about it each time it hits the turntable.
The instrumentation is quite varied, with lots of horns and the use of a horrible overstrung piano (played through a fuzzbox?). At one point, almost as a trailer for The Third Reich And Roll, a Resident sings over the top of the Human Beinzs' Nobody But Me. The mono sound quality is very basic but that just adds to the experience. The recycled and deformed Beatles cover announces a declaration of war on conventional pop and rock.
Your ears are assaulted by a stream of rapid changes in tempo and mood. The instruments are played badly but brilliantly. Passages of "music" are savagely edited and disjointed. The album shows a total lack of respect for musicianship and normal production methods. They abandon conventional song writing and instead make the LP a collage of musical ideas stuck together with Masking Tape. The first 15 minutes of side 1 are nothing short of genius. The tunes come and go before you have a chance to get bored, the playing is verging on violent, the music is raw invention.