The Residents: Twenty Twisted Questions


The art/music/performance group known as The Residents has been pushing their work into the media landscape for over 40 years but you could be forgiven for not knowing this. The Residents were delving into their own brand of the sinister and absurd years before the world had heard of David Lynch, but unlike Lynch their work has never been gained the mass audience that feature film and network television offers. The Residents were independent record producers before punk, in part because the music on their early albums was so far from the mainstream that few record companies would have dared take the risk.


Hello Skinny (1980).

Twenty Twisted Questions (1992) is a laserdisc compilation of their early films and music videos which can now be viewed at Ubuweb. I’ve always preferred the earlier material (up to The Mole Show), in part because its analogue nature retains a strangeness that the later productions lack. You get the impression of them carving out new territory on the earlier albums; later on things seemed to become more formulaic as they gained a wider audience. The laserdisc selection covers the first 20 years so you can judge for yourself. My favourites among the films are Hello Skinny, and the four One-Minute Movies from The Commercial Album (1980). If you can’t take all of it, at least stick around to watch those.


One-Minute Movies: The Act Of Being Polite (1980).