Author Topic: GHOST OF HOPE (Project of the Week for 3rd of April)  (Read 366 times)

moleshow

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GHOST OF HOPE (Project of the Week for 3rd of April)
« on: April 03, 2017, 09:11:29 am »
THE TIME HAS COME.

yes, after making you all wait through an extra week of generalized delusion from all parties involved during Not Available, this train has pulled into the station for.... a certain period of time. i am thinking.... two weeks? two weeks. we will all have a good time. just remember that life is a lonely train wracked by god.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 12:10:02 pm by moleshow »
"All our lives we love illusion, neatly caught between confusion and the need to know we are alive."

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Meisekimiu

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Re: PROJECT OF THE WEEK (3rd of April): GHOST OF HOPE
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 10:40:10 am »
I'll be making two responses to this thread. This first one contains my initial reaction to the album just after listening to it for the first time, while the second post I'll make will be my thoughts on the album since I've properly let the album sink in.

And since I and others on the forum like to talk about their life story leading up to listening to whatever project of the week is, I guess I should start off that way as well. I've got to come clean about this... I got The Ghost of Hope early. About two weeks before official release. Now, to be fair, I did buy it off store shelves, and I didn't leak it online or spoil any details about it that weren't already known. When I was in Japan last month, I stopped by Tower Records in Shibuya. Not too far from where The Residents ended up playing their In Between Dreams show in Japan. They probably saw that building on their way to the venue, or maybe just where they were staying. Anyway, right in their Residents section was The Ghost of Hope... there were actually two copies sitting there. I picked one up and stared at it in disbelief. When I went up to the register to check out, I thought that maybe the man at the register would tell me that I wasn't able to buy the album. But of course, it was on store shelves, so I paid for the album and walked out of there.

I went straight back to the airbnb I was staying at and, after a few reality checks to see if The Ghost of Hope really wasn't out yet, immediately began listening to it. And then afterwards I began writing up a review. Here it is:


The Ghost of Hope definitely sounds different from any other Residents project so far… although that’s a good way to describe literally any of their other albums. I do feel like their sound for the past 5 or so years seemed a bit… stale, at least for The Residents. This album definitely has a new sound to it, which is pretty reassuring for me. I was afraid that maybe The Residents would just be stuck with their post-Bunny Boy sound for the rest of their existence.

Part of this change may have something to do with “Charles Bobuck”’s departure from the group, but I’ve heard that Bobuck still left his fingerprints all over the production of this project. I think it’s more just because this is a new project, with new collaborators, new moods to portray, and new ideas to reflect. Of course it has a different sound.

And yet, this album still sounds like this strange amalgamation of all their previous works. It reminds me of Freak Show. It reminds me of The Gingerbread Man. It reminds me of The Talking Light and Shadowland. It reminds me of The Voice of Midnight, and Tweedles, and God in Three Persons, Eskimo, and even The Big Bubble for some reason. It has this very familiar sound and yet it’s all mixed together in this particular ratio that makes everything sound fresh and new. It really made me think, “My god… I really am listening to new Residents!”

The sounds of this album are truly incredible. The Residents have constructed “soundscapes” in the past with things like Eskimo, but they truly master it in The Ghost of Hope. The scenes they create are amazing, and for all the chaos and grimness they portray, they are strangely a delight on the ears. The album veers on and off the tracks between portraying more “soundscape” like music and well, actual honest-to-god music. I was kind of feeling bad for wanting to tap my foot and bob my head up and down to such carnage. There’s also some Talking Light style first-person narration going on in this album, but it doesn’t make it this album’s gimmick. It’s actually interesting how every song is done at least slightly differently so the only true thing tying them together is the central theme of train wrecks.

And even for being about something as macabre as train wrecks and having the spooky name The Ghost of Hope, the album still managed to surprise me with how dark it was. It’s pretty gloomy and depressing, and the fact that songs are based on actual (Real?) events that happened just makes it all the more emotional. It’s a very haunting album and listening to it reminded me of listening to the depressing stories of The Gingerbread Man for the first time.

Now then, time to pretend like I’m Grandpa Gio for a second. The eyeballs are back, and prominently displayed on the album art for the first time on a major album release since Demons Dance Alone, I think? This means a few things. First off, The Residents are acting as observers, which is pretty clear from the concept of the album as well as the pictures in the booklet showing the eyeball-headed Residents calmly, almost playfully observing these train wrecks. But it also means that we’re dealing with commentary on our culture as well.

The railroad is so romantic and idealistic, but these disasters show another side of these ideals. These trains were technological marvels at the time, but we failed to control this technology properly. The Residents are asking “But have we learned from our mistakes?” when it comes to all these newer technologies we’re developing… which is part of what makes this album so haunting.

One final thing to note about the eyeballs is that it means that the “Randy, Chuck, and Bob” idea seems to be gone… at least to a certain extent. This seems to be emphasized by the “Real? Residents” brand that is present on the back of the cover, as well as all over the insides of the booklet. At first I thought it might just be a small little brand that would be placed on the cover as a joke, but its prominence on the inside covers is pretty intriguing. I don’t really know what it means just yet… I think we might have to wait for the In Between Dreams shows or maybe just hindsight a year or two down the road to really see what’s so “Real?” about them.

Anyway, this album is pretty great. Go preorder it… it is simply fantastic and I’m very happy to own it right now.

( Is this a bad album? The Ghost of Hope says NO! )


It was definitely fun riding a train basically directly after listening to that album. That didn't freak me out at all. Anyway, I'll be posting my new impressions on the album later. Knowing how Project of the Week goes, probably at the last possible moment.
レジデンツはほとんど日本人だけど、誰も知らない。
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TheSleeper

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Re: PROJECT OF THE WEEK (3rd of April): GHOST OF HOPE
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2017, 07:22:55 pm »
Favorite tracks: "Death Harvest" and "Shroud of Flames"
"Rushing like a Banshee" rocks the **** out, it's addicting how ferocious and scary it is.

I'm pretty sure "Train vs Elephant" was the first track they did (maybe even what inspired the whole project). It sounds a lot like the style in "What was left of Grandpa", maybe with a couple new things thrown in the final mix.

I'm really unsure on why "Killed at a Crossing" is the final track. Like, why exactly did they choose that one? I like it and all (there's no bad tracks in this album), but I'm not sure why it was picked as the ending (the "epilogue" with the train sounds and chirpy synth seems to have been added on post). The lyrics focus a lot on Ms. Folwell's "adventurous" lifestyle and I'm not sure why, especially for the ending. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong spots. Musically it's a great ending. I would talk about the "She often did typewriting..." verse being repeated three times, but maybe they wanted to make it sound like a folk song. It does.

Also the coloring in the album package is freaking gorgeous. I love red on black, and the covers and booklet look hypnotizingly good. So elegant yet intimidating. It also SMELLS great too!!! I really liked this album. They said they were working on videos for it and I'm VERY excited to see them.

CheerfulHypocrite

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I suspect I should listen just one more time
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2017, 05:46:12 pm »
Quote from: Brian Eno
"Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting."

In the faux-modernity of the Transport Securtity Authority - the Agency administered world - nobody could take the time and effort required to engage with Music for Airports in its ambience. The reputation of ambient music has gradually diminished from the revolutionary nature of 1970;s Eno, through the career of Doctor Alex Patterson whose chill-out at Heaven led to the Spacetime Parties of Cable Street, London, and the The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld until the Musique concrète degenerated into a kind of ersatz ambience. Like the faux-modernity of Transport Security.

Beginning with The Horrors of the Night there is a building of a layer of ambient music. The first two minutes take underground train noises, steam hissing, insect muttering and the distinctive train rhythm of clackety-clack-ing. It is a theme that underpins the whole work like the hobos of Harry Partch's world of Benson - where Partch earned money delivering toothpaste and curlers to prostitutes. The ambience of Ghost of Hope develops onwards from the multiple perspectives of Bad Day on the Midway or the multiplied personae of Gingerbread Man. Gradually, the principle of ambience becomes clearer. The ambience is not provided by the environment but the people.

Partch rode the rails. Following the fruit harvest across the country as part of a culture that was disappearing. His experience was not simply of watching culture disappear but of taking something from the ambience of the Hobo and packaging it up for others to discover. What Partch did for the subtlety of tones, the Residents are doing for the subtleties of layering. In Shroud of Flames the clackety-clack of the Horrors of the Night mutate, almost, into something like the vocal rhythms of  Up the Junction by Squeeze. Up the Junction is the name of a collection of short stories by Nell Dunn. The collection was first published in 1963. In 1965 a television play version of the work, directed by Ken Loach, which led to a 1968 movie version. The film had a soundtrack by Manfred Mann singing Up the Junction. Lyricist Chris Difford, of Squeeze, said that the title phrase was lifted from the collection but the sound and fury of the Up the Junction by Squeeze is different to the Manfred Mann song. So too is Shroud of Flames. It manages to lull, like the clackety-clacking of the train on tracks until, suddenly, it throws out an idea

Quote
Clinging to their limbless trunks
 Like the scent around a rose

Which takes the sounds - the actual building blocks - back into something more than simply enforcing a pastiche of up the junction. The technique of quotation is not simplistic. Instead of quoting in easy to comprehend blocks of words or sounds as such:

Quote from: Edna Saint Vincent Millay
The railroad track is miles away,
    And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
    But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn’t a train goes by,
    Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
    And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
    And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
    No matter where it’s going

Which takes an entire poem and seems to suggest a particular interpretation of the sounds before the listener. This is not an ambient quotation. It is imposing a specific direction of interpretation. It is an Agency Administered world approach: meaningful quotations that present meaning even where the actual meaning is difficult to discern, as in poetry. The ambient approach to quotation could have taken merely part of the poem

Quote from: Edna Saint Vincent Millay
All night there isn’t a train goes by, though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,

Which would be sufficient for someone familiar with MIllay to see the quotation pass by as part of the ambience of everything passing by. By analogy, those familiar with the Residents would recognise

Quote
A train went by as I ran out the door - the number on the engine was forty-four - I rode that train to New Orleans and took my tears to a voodoo queen.

From Our Finest Flowers but might also see an oblique reference to the project of  Sculpt. Which is where the ambient sound techniques show themselves to be incredibly powerful. Unlike the more primitive Eskimo where the ambience was foregrounded with technological and traditionally musical sounds, Ghost Of Hope takes the Listener outside of language in the same way ambient music can take the Listener outside of traditional music. Unlike others who reduce words to percussion, the Residents have made language into a talking tonal drum. The vocals are not, realisticallty, singing, but layering tones and meaning. Not simplistically in the manner of three notes creating a major chord or a minor chord but of three sounds creating a harmonic of meaning.

Engineer Pat Downs, of The Horrors of the Night is a pun on being patted down by Security Guards. Which makes the nakedness of Mrs McCurdy more sinister. The only way she could escape the crash was, it seems, to be naked. Which, again, makes the ambient nature of the Residents work far more vivid. It is not an insipid ambience - like the faux-ambience of chill-out rooms. This is an industrial and social ambience of industrial society.

The Ghost of Hope exits the first train crash in The Horrors of The Night and meanders through a story which is increasingly claustrophobic. From the misguided idea that train crashes could be entertainment in The Crash at Crush to the prescience of Killed at the Crossroads where an automated train - the "Woggle-bug" killed Wilson Page and Mrs. Robert L. Folwell. In a world where technology giants are building cars that have passengers and no drivers, this is not simply some kind of historical oddity. The Ghost of Hope documents a world where the accident is an integral part. Not simply something that happens but something that fills the world with meaning.

It is not simply that the Ghost of Hope continues the story telling and musical experimentation of, say The Voice of Midnight but that the narrative technique moves onwards from the radio-show style presentation of River of Crime and the horspiel of The Voice of Midnight into a more information saturated media style. The layering of almost singing that drifts in and out of spoken word - sometimes by several people, all layered together - gives a sense of pervasive presence. There is some kind of unspoken thing about the story. The Ghost of Hope is not, like the story of Tweedles simply placed out in a simplistic narrative. Train vs. Elephant suggests the metaphor of the elephant in the room: there is something out here and we are not noticing it.

The overall work is layered together. There is a sort of Eskimo-esque ambient layer. Without the faux-inuit narratives. The narratives are taken from our world - the industrial world - and layered onto the top. Another layer is the complex assembly of vocals which are sometimes spoken sometimes lilted and sometimes sung and, many times, double or triple tracked. As though the entire work is being given voice by a crowd all seeking to be a single person. Which gives the sense of how anonymous living really is and how anonymous the stories' subjects are.

There are a whole crowd of names scattered throughout the Ghost of Hope from the suspiciously punning Pat Downs to the multiple identities of Mrs Folwell. If there is a secret identity within the Ghost of Hope it is not one that is being made easy to understand or access. It is one that needs continued, repeated listening to the noises. As Eno claims it is as ignorable as it is interesting. The sense that there are trains - all sorts of trains - pervade the soundtrack. The sense that every train is a disaster for people pervades the spoken words and the lilted words lead away from the disasters to something else. Almost as though the elephant in the room is the unasked question: do all clouds have a silver lining? Are all disasters capable of releasing some good.

Which returns to the identity of the Ghost of Hope. Pandora, the first human woman created by Hephaestus and Athena on the instructions of Zeus. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to mold Pandora out of earth as part of the punishment of humanity for Prometheus' theft of the secret of fire. Pandora was endowed with a huge number of gifts from the gods including a box. Within the box were imprisoned the Horrors of the Night which Pandora opened and allowed into the world. Only Hope was kept in the box. The idea that Pandora had a box was due to the translation by Erasmus of Rotterdam - the great humanist - where he translated the Greek work pithos for storage jar into  the Latin word pyxis. In the modern, industrial word nobody has translated pyxis into anything. Which doubly traps the Ghost of Hope in an ever more bleak prison.

It makes sense to remark upon the guitars and the percussion and the vocals, but they simply serve to conceal the Ghost of Hope in ever deeper layers of ambience. The kind of world where music is consumed instead of internalised is the kind of world where people seek an explicit gratification from every song. Which Ghost of Hope does not give. Instead there is the sound of the bean sìth the keening woman who heralds death. In Irish mythology she is called Aibell and her song is a screech and her harp, once heard, is the portent of approaching death. Which makes a strangely serene kind of narrative bubble up out of the ambience mixed with music.

It is a first listen. Less than a dozen times. Ghost of Hope is not simply recycling previous ideas but building something sinister and new which appears less benign the more you listen. The stripping away of the layers increasingly suggests that there is an invisible character in the story and it is a character that we are all straining to ignore.

I suspect that I have missed a huge amount of detail. I suspect I should need to return to thinking about what I have heard in, perhaps, a year or so. Let the noises begin to inhabit my bones.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2017, 01:01:22 am by moleshow »
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moleshow

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Re: PROJECT OF THE WEEK (3rd of April): GHOST OF HOPE
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2017, 12:53:58 am »
The Ghost of Hope is, to put it simply, one hell of an album.

A couple of things strike me about it as particularly unique, but it cannot be written about in the same way that albums like God in Three Persons or Tweedles! can be written about because it is in a format of filling in the gaps in real (or believable) events of the past. They have partially stepped back from their familiar methods of storytelling to inject new perspectives into accidents long gone. And with the eyeballs once again present on the cover, we can assume that they are commentating. Looking back at us, waiting for us to understand and see the present’s face in the past.

Musically, I find that they have managed to synthesize all periods of their career in the tracks while also managing to try new things alongside the old.

Horrors of the Night has the rumbling of the train to introduce the track in the same way that howling arctic winds were the gateway into the stories on Eskimo. It also introduces something that doesn’t feel quite familiar with the harmonizing singers that accompany the Singing Resident. There are also some choices made with the instrumentation that feel distinctly Bobuck-esque, but that then leads me to wonder that if any portion of a song was composed by him, would it really be possible to make it sound like anyone else had their hands on it? The story portion at the end calls to mind the Ghost Stories of Talking Light and the Shadow Stories from Shadowland.

The Crash at Crush threw me for a loop with the acoustic guitar. While they used a bit of it very early on in their career, it has returned with a clear, resonating and repeating sound. The occasional woodwind-fueled chaos that the track dips into at times calls to mind certain songs off of Tweedles!, specifically Stop Signs. The lyrics on this are perhaps some of the best out of their entire career- they balance casual wording with eloquent, vivid descriptions horrific scenes creating a tasty juxtaposition of nonchalance and terror.

Death Harvest is strangely mournful, in a way not unlike the Talking Light rendition of Bury Me Not, with its slow, drifting and sorrowful tone. The guest vocalist calls to mind the one who sang Cain and Abel for the live show of Wormwood. Of course, Banshee is totally uncharted territory for the group. It has the chaos of Satisfaction but a biting clarity, heavy instrumentals and screeching guitar that you’d expect from a plethora of other groups… but rarely would you expect it from them. It winds down as if it had never been there with an almost comical drift into the end of the track. It is almost abrupt, but fittingly so, as if a train had come through and hit the song itself and it only had a short amount of time before returning back into an abyss of assorted mechanical noise and whispered, ethereal notes.

Shroud of Flames is a song I can genuinely dance to. It has a certain catchiness to it, and hard-hitting rhythms like those found on Teddy from Prelude to the Teds or many of the new renditions from Shadowland. The strangely harmonized vocals come across as inhuman but call to mind the Chorus from Not Available. Those vocals are the tool used to give us some of the best-flowing lyrics from them yet. I mean, wow.

Quote
”Along the railway bed a vast amount of oil had waited for a flame to parboil, bake and broil.”

When the Singing Resident breaks back in for longer segments, he delivers to us even more deliciously danceable detailed descriptions of the dramatic scenes at hand.

Quote
Engineer Pat Sexton and fireman Billy Young saw the engine bathed in incandescent tongues. Flames that licked and laughed and danced about and sung causing every breath to scorch their livid lungs.

Sexton drove until roasting flesh and pain forced evacuation; still his hands remained fastened to the throttle, as his flesh sustained; charcoal colored blisters macerating him with pain.

He closes out the track with a monologue that blends the styles of God in Three Persons with the Buckaroo Blues and Baby King sections of Cube E. The tone is one that communicates the suspense and shock with a calloused, but disctincly human delivery.

This is the perfect entry into the mellow and melancholy track that follows, The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918. Weeooweeooweeoo Clown Alert. The vocals on this track are so, so fitting. He does “sad clown” unbelievably well. There is a loneliness that shakes me to my core on this one. When such excellent vocal delivery is paired with a distinctly Bobuck musical base (since they sampled pre-existing work from him, perhaps this was inevitable) in which the sound effects and composition create a tangible space through sound, it is practically impossible to fail. This actually doesn’t call to mind a whole lot of tracks from elsewhere in their career, since we hardly had much of a blending of solo Bobuck and Singing Resident vocals. But the small break into circus music is distinctly reminiscent of the Live at the Fillmore, live Icky Flix and Shadowland renditions of Benny the Bouncing Bump. Outside of that, the choices made here are somewhat familiar but do not immediately call to mind much of anything else.

Train V.S. Elephant is similarly musically unique, although with its heavily instrumental sound (with vocals being used more for texture than context) it can easily be compared to Eskimo. Once again, the Bobuck feeling is present with the suspense of the moment, the buildup of it all, seeming to manifest around the listener if they just close their eyes. It is sort of the I Like Black of the album. The guitar work is similarly put in the spotlight, put on display in all its singing glory. It interacts playfully (but with intent) with the instrumentation to paint a vivid, tragic image. Just as The Bunny Boy had an instrumental breather before more hard-hitting tracks, The Ghost of Hope gives you a moment to catch your breath before launching you right back in, with the environment now becoming uniquely and surprisingly mysterious as…

Killed at a Crossing begins. The more natural sounds that closed out Train V.S. Elephant are sharply contrasted with a deep, electronic humming that immediately call to mind the keyboard contributions of Rico (or as he is credited on the album, Eric Drew Feldman…) for Shadowland. The instrumentals are sharply suspenseful and, in conjunction with the lyrics, seem to crawl along in the murkiness of the strange accident and the information is happened to reveal. The almost criminal undertones to the story are immediately reminiscent of River of Crime. Strangely enough, Singing Resident bring a frequently unseen card of his into play. His singing is low but not frightening and unfamiliarly unexaggerated. He is actually incredibly melodic. There is no effort being made to play a certain character. It is a rare side of his talents, a side seen occasionally on Stars and Hank Forever, sections of Freak Show and Demons Dance Alone, to name a few. This is another track where the guitar work from N.C. really shines through. It has that live flavor where it peeks through here and there while also not hesitating to come out and lead the way when the time is right. The end of the track (and the album) have a common trait with Eskimo in that, despite an ending that leaves the listener in a sort of shocked state, it loops well. Noise flows into noise.

--

Some other assorted things I noticed were that only the train-auto collisions seem to be impossible to find records of. I’m not sure if this is particularly relevant to the album or if it holds much meaning beyond The Residents enforcing their ability to/stressing the importance of blending reality into believable falsehoods, but it’s something.

I also noticed that they have taken on the new persona of The Real(?/!) Residents. This is really fun for me, because I see it as them having put a holdable, useful and generally reliable illusion into the spotlight and then withdrawing this illusion at the point where the fans seem to have collectively come to terms with it and accepted it. They have merged back into the shadows as the scattered remains of their previous illusion grasp desperately to understand what has occurred, as the illusion of Randy is dependent entirely/exclusively on the existence of The Residents. If he is not a part of The Real (?/!) Residents, what is he? What did he experience? As observers, we are lead to question who is more believable. Randy is credible and generally sorta seemed to know what he was talking about while simultaneously sharing information that perhaps we didn’t know. But The Real (?/!) Residents have the credibility of familiarity- they are once again faceless. They tell nothing. We get what we get and there is no face to reach out to. We are left waiting on the edge of our seats.

Overall, the album seems to hold much more potential and it is almost inevitable that it will be one of those that spill out, growing innumerable heads, all equally wonderful and beautiful in their own complicated ways. It is unique and fresh in a manner that puts it on the same level as Animal Lover in my mind. That is possibly the highest compliment I can give to an album. And this one deserves it. Especially since it gets better with each listen.

I feel very strongly for this album. I want to see it grow big and strong and healthy etc etc etc. Much love for this one and everything it has goin’ on.
"All our lives we love illusion, neatly caught between confusion and the need to know we are alive."
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Meisekimiu

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Re: PROJECT OF THE WEEK (3rd of April): GHOST OF HOPE
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2017, 02:56:47 am »
The Ghost of Hope is a great album. Although the collection of my "favorite" Residents albums is just a fuzzy and ever-changing idea, (with the exception of Not Available being my favorite) this one is definitely up there. I already said my initial impressions, and for the most part I still agree with them. I will say that I think this album is a bit more complex than it appears at first. Even on my first listening, I knew certain things seemed... rather strange. Let's go over each track (heh... "track"... trains... heh) individually. I'm going to be noting some interesting things I've noticed, and also trying to look into the historical accuracy of each story.

Horrors of the Night
The first thing I noticed about this song was that the lyrics didn't rhyme. Now, The Residents aren't exactly pop stars so it isn't that weird to hear them not rhyme, but rhyming is just such a key part of their sound that it's definitely noticable when there aren't rhymes. It does give the song a less story-like vibe though, as if The Residents are simply quoting what happened. And it seems like this did indeed happen! This was the only bit of information I could find on the wreck, but maybe I didn't look hard enough. Anyway, the term "Horror of the Night" is used in this newspaper excerpt, which is pretty cool. From my research, though, it doesn't seem like The Residents are quoting anything directly, besides the phrase "Horror of the Night". While the names seem to be real, I can't find the quoted passage at the end of the song anywhere, although it does say that all the survivors were interviewed. I do think the ending to this song does sound a bit too much like a story from the Talking Light... or a Shadow Story. I'm just saying... that writing style sounds rather familiar...

The Crash at Crush
Yay! 3/4 time! This song is a lot more songy than the previous one. It rhymes! In fact, I'd say it's almost folksy in nature. While the previous song just starts describing the action from the start (as the sleeping passengers on board would have experienced the crash), this one builds up tension before the crash. This feeling of doom just creeps around the track (I guess it's the ghost of hope), and I really like it! There are many different resources on this incident. While it isn't the best resource for serious research, the existence of a Wikipedia article just proves how "notable" this incident was (also there are cool pictures!). This song got stuck in my head after listening to the album a 2nd time.

Death Harvest
I think this is my favorite song from the album. The gentle nature of the first part, followed by the sheer ferocity of Rushing Like a Banshee, only to become calm once again... I love it. I simply love it. Peter Whitehead does an amazing job on the vocals... ahhh this song is so great. Now then... I can't seem to find any information on this incident at all. Obviously smaller incidents involving just automobiles with no vicious train derailments or anything of that nature won't be getting their own Wikipedia articles... but I just can't find any information on this incident at all. Although the places and the weird secret society mentioned in the liner notes are real, I can't find anything on the people or the train accident itself. Weird, since you don't often find someone's head stuck in the ground with their feet in the air. Anyway, the rhyme scheme gets switched up again, with the first part not rhyming at all until Rushing Like a Banshee takes over, where the rest of the song rhymes from there.

Shroud of Flames
I really dig this song. It's sounds quite nice... almost too upbeat for the chaos being described. I mean, I could dance to this song about people burning up in an oil fire. I also like the alternating vocalists here... while I'm not entirely sure if there's a purpose to it other than sounding cool and weird. Again, I can't find any information on this incident. However, this one doesn't seem to be too out of the ordinary like the previous two stories, so maybe it's just harder to find information about it in the first place? One final thing to note is the final lyric before the monologue at the end: "Conductor Townsend said / Peering through a mask / Revealing nothing but / His eyeballs as he rasped,". Maybe it's just a coincidence that we have "eyeballs" and "mask" in there. Although I think it's a bit odd... I mean, I feel like "eyes" would be more natural to say than "eyeballs" in that situation, but hey, I guess they have to keep up with the meter of the song.

The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918
I think this track is the weakest musically (it sounds the least like an "actual song", not that that's important when we're talking about The Residents), but it more for makes up with that with its emotional impact. The very moment I heard that "RACE! SKIN! IGNORANCE TO THE END!" sample, I knew something was up with this album. I still don't fully get the inclusion of that sample. Maybe it's just a joke, or maybe it just sounded cool. This incident also has a lot of information on it, including a book even called "The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918: Tragedy on the Indiana Lakeshore". Even the names seems to be real, although from my resources (that book), it seems like there was a Emil Schwyer, not an Emil Schwem.

Train vs. Elephant
I think this track speaks for itself for the most part (I mean... it better, that's the whole point of it!). I do really like this track though. It's a nice break from lyrics while still having a good atmosphere and story behind it. I did research this incident and found a blog post from a man who stumbled upon the sign and asked locals about the event. I think it was the exact post The Residents used as inspiration for the track. Neato!

Killed at a Crossing
This one just immediately hits you with this mysterious, sinister tone. It isn't my favorite track on the album, but I think it's just a perfect way to end somehow... I don't know why though. The rhyme scheme is gone (for the most part) again, although unlike in Horrors of the Night, I can't find any information on this incident. And I think it's time to stop beating around the bush a bit and talk a bit more directly. I believe that certain stories in The Ghost of Hope are entirely fictional. The Residents are playing with truth and fiction with this album, so by the end you may not entirely be sure what is "Real?" and what isn't. And The Residents use a variety of techniques throughout the album to confuse the truth and fiction.

Horrors of the Night makes no use of rhyme so it sounds less like a story and more like an actual recount of what happened. This departure from The Residents' "usual" sound starts the album out by loudly proclaiming that this song was based on real, actual events... something which The Residents aren't that well known for. I mean, yes, they've reported lots of "true" or "historical" things before, but the actual presentation is usually warped while keeping the underlying and more universal truth intact. The song cleverly builds up a suspension of disbelief. Of course these events are real, otherwise The Residents would have made it rhyme and the events would be much stranger. The Crash at Crush sounds more like a folk song but yet it too is based on a true event. And now we have two contrasting ways of telling the truth: literal reports of what happened and more story like songs. At this point it doesn't matter what any further songs are like, their sound alone will say nothing about how based in reality they really are.

Death Harvest is the first fictional story of the album, and it starts without a rhyme scheme. It sounds just like a literal report of what happened, including various specific details that would be strange to make up. A rhyme scheme does eventually pop up, though, maybe to combine the two styles presented in the album so far as to confuse the listener. Shroud of Flames presents its fictional incident in a straight-up song with a beat but uses specific names and an ending monologue like Horrors of the Night to make it sound like a true event. The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918 finally brings us back to reality, although changes a small detail here or there, like Emil Schwyer's name so it isn't 100% true. Train vs Elephant is based on first-hand accounts. While there is proof that this incident happened, specific details are a bit muddier.

And that brings us to the conclusion of the album once more... Killed at a Crossing. It has this sinister, mysterious, and well... important tone to it. It sounds like this song is the "concluding paragraph" to the essay on truth and fiction The Residents have presented upon us. And this fictional story is about truth itself, with the main character of the story immediately presented as not entirely trustworthy. The song lacks rhyme scheme so it sounds like another report of actual events. And it liberally sprinkles in specific details to make the story believable... in fact, let's compare the lyrics of this song to one of a similar style, Horrors of the Night:

Quote from: Killed at a Crossing
When the Wogglebug
A Pennsylvania train,
Ran into a Ford,
Mrs Robert Folwell
And Wilson Parker Page
Perished instantly

Quote from: Horrors of the Night
Five cars broke off and sped
Down the incline followed
By two more coal cars,
As all aboard appeared
Oblivious to the fate
Laying in wait
For them on the incline

In the stanza from Killed at a Crossing, every single line introduces a specific detail, where as Horrors of the Night connects its lines a bit more naturally. Although the other stanzas in Killed at a Crossing aren't quite like this, they are still very dense with specific details when compared to any of the other songs. But as the song concludes, the final stanza does rhyme as one final little "twist" to the song. As the train departs, you find yourself confused as to what the truth really is...


I have to admit it'll still take time for me to truly understand this album. Maybe in a few months or a year from now I'll get what this album is really trying to say, but until then I do think its trying to say something about the nature of truth in addition to its commentary on society and technlogy. A song like Killed at a Crossing, although certainly about a train accident, doesn't completely match the "man not being able to fully understand and control growing technology" theme... but hey, maybe I'm just crazy. As for The Real? Residents, I think it's an extension of this theme and is meant to clue us into the "Real?"-ness of the stories in this album. I just hope Randy is okay.
レジデンツはほとんど日本人だけど、誰も知らない。
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moleshow

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Re: PROJECT OF THE WEEK (3rd of April): GHOST OF HOPE
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2017, 12:39:39 pm »
OLD TALK ^
---
NEW TALK v

"All our lives we love illusion, neatly caught between confusion and the need to know we are alive."

DrIncluding

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HornedGramma

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Re: PROJECT OF THE WEEK (3rd of April): GHOST OF HOPE
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 03:57:13 pm »
My thoughts on The Ghost of Hope.  From a conversation on the Facebutt page, but our fearless leader requested I transmute it to here.  I don't mind.

It's a creeper, for sure. Like all of their best records, my initial reaction was a kind of dazed uncertainty. The comparisons to Eskimo that were made in some of the press for Ghost of Hope seem a little too eager at first, but then you realize that in a lot of ways it is very much like that record: the dissonant, chanted harmonies, the ethereal stews of noise, the distorted wails.

The sudden return of tuned percussion on 'Horrors of the Night' is an immediate indicator that they are back in top form. The return of Carla Fabrizio gives it the feel of one of their contemporary masterpieces.

Crash at Crush is a deeply exciting piece. That accordion, man. And the way the reverb on the Singing Resident's voice keeps the waltz tempo in the moments when the instrumentation cuts out (Go! Go... Go...). The line 'I can't escape the fact of Buster's broken back' has this innocent, sinister bewilderment in its delivery that makes for a truly classic Residents moment.

Death Harvest has quickly become one of my favorite Residents tunes. The melody is one of their most beautiful, and the string arrangement -- which feels like it comes out of nowhere -- is unspeakably gorgeous. The inclusion of the Banshee segment, which at first seems so jarring, is a true moment of genius. It bears down on that composition like a speeding train on an unsuspecting man enjoying a pleasant summer morning: perfect for the most obvious reasons. Nolan's guitar in this song honestly feels like it could break your neck.

Shroud of Flames is black as tar. There is a blunt meanness to it that we only rarely get from the Residents (Burn My Bones, Black Behind).

The Great Circus Train Wreck is everything the Residents do well, done as well as they have ever done it. I am only supposing here, but those MIDI horns seem to suggest that this is one of the tracks worked on most extensively by C. Bobuck (dude fuckin' loves his MIDI horns). While on a lot of these tracks the absence of the longtime compositional genius of Bobuck is apparent (to varying degrees), this track feels to me like one of, if not the last, fully realized collaborations between the two. The man from whose perspective this account is related is another in the Residents' grand tradition of tragically hopeless victims of circumstance (Bunny, Mr. X, Tweedles the Clown). The weeping, desperate way he moans 'Thank you...? Thank you?' almost makes you want to cry.

Train vs. Elephant is straight-up **** fire. I regret that it is not included in all versions of the album, but of course that is due to necessity. This is one of those compositions that is taylor-made for live performance: an instrumental apocalypse for the band to tear through while the SInging Resident takes a much-needed breather. Like 'I Like Black' on the Bunny tour, or Cube E's 'Engine 44'. If you listen to the version of Engine 44 from the full Ralph America recording of Cube-E, at the very end, you can hear some guy in the audience go WHOOOO!!. Correct reaction, and -- I imagine -- the reaction Train vs. Elephant will get when they unleash it on an audience. Also: the sound of the train hitting the elephant is one of my all-time favorite Residents sounds. Right up there with the sound of the Electrocutioner.

Killed at a Xing was a mystery to me for the first several listens. It's so goddamn strange, I couldn't make sense of it. Reading the corresponding story in the liner notes was essential. Kind of like the summaries of the Bible stories included on Wormwood, Killed at a Xing appears to be completely literal (Look it up -- it's in the book!). The fact that the person they are describing was apparently exactly as she is described doesn't seem possible. It makes your head spin. The extended outro of this song includes some of the most fantastic electronic work they've done in a very, very long time.

Every minute is thoroughly considered and 100% effective. I've heard it fifty or sixty times at this point, and -- like their very best -- something new and unexpected seizes me on each successive listen. Even I would have hesitated if someone asked me if the Residents had another honest-to-god masterpiece in them. Let alone as much gunpowder to burn as they packed into Ghost of Hope. I am head over heels for it; I place it firmly alongside Not Available and Animal Lover as being among their absolute best.

Give this one the patience it deserves. It is worth it.
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DrIncluding

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@meisekimiu "Again, I can't find any information on this incident."

here's one: https://www.gendisasters.com/pennsylvania/21547/bradford-pa-passenger-train-engulfed-in-burning-oil-jan-1884

dunwich

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I've been too busy to catch up with all the Projects of the Week, but my review of The Ghost of Hope just went up today: http://ow.ly/Wnop30bdSBS
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