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The Residents - Theory Of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents [Film Movement - 2016]

Here we have the DVD/Blue-ray release of Theory of Obscurity- the rather wonderful & justifiable praised/ celebrated documentary about the mysterious sound & art collective known as The Residents. And just to clarify Iím reviewing the DVD version of the release- so Iíll be discussing the extras etc of this version of the release.

If you are a fan of experimental, or underground music The Resident should need little or no introduction- but just encase you have some how never tasted the projects distinctive, arty & odd blend of music/visuals Iíll give a rough out-line. The project first became active in 1969, when a collection of friends from Shreveport, Louisiana moved to the then odd/ hippy capital of the USA San Francisco. Since then the collective have released nearing sixty albums, which have blended together all manner of sonic genreís into a distinctive, dada tipped, and surreal strew. Over the years the band have remained completely anonymous using a series of masks/costumes to disguise their identity (most notable & know of these is the Eyeball & top hat)-with their management team( the Cryptic Corporation) as their only contact with the media/outside world.

The Theory of Obscurity is a 2015 documentary film written & directed by respected Bay Area doc maker Don Hardy Jr. The film tries (and mostly mangers) to compact The Residentís 40 year history into an it's hour & twenty seven minute runtime. It features interviews/ input from all four  past & present members of the Cryptic Corp,  along with a whole host of talking heads taking in the likes of: Simpsonís Creator Matt Groening, magician & comedian Penn Jillette, Primus bass player Les Claypool. Added to this you get interviews/ input from super fanís like Doctor Kim Andrews & Chris Combs( who I both remember well from the late  1990ís Residentís web mail-out Smelly Tongues). With the whole thing been interweaved with snippets of the band on their 40th anniversary tour

Now onto the pros & the cons( and Iíll reverse these with the negatives first) so the cons. Structure wise it does dart about in history a bit. And it doesnít cover much of the projects recent  album work from after 90ís, but I guess they couldnít feature everything in the films  relatively short length.
The pros: the whole thing flows in a very approachable & interesting manner- which will appeal to both fans, and non-fans( Iíve played the film for a few folks who donít  like the project, and they sat through & wholly enjoyed it). And as a fan you get fascinating interviews & footage with rare figures such as ex- cryptic Corporation Jay Clem & John Kennedy, and Roland Sheehan (who was a school friend & early collaborator with the band).
In summing up the whole film Iíd say itís one of the more worthy & re-watch-able music docs in recent memory, and really worth the time of any fan of the weird & unusual.

Extras wise on the DVD you get a selection of the compulsory Residentís visuals, and more rare stuff: So you get all the classic Residentís videos/short films, taking in: The Third Reich & roll promotional film, Hello Skinny music video, a the selection of one minute movies video for the selection of tracks from The Commercial Album.
The projects first, haphazard & deranged live performance from the 1971. Out takes from The Resident never released movie Vileness Fats. Freak Show animation. A new short music video for Mellon Collie Lassie( from 1977ís Fingerprince album) which features new footage from the time. And a bizarre one off video built around a weird story with relating old  stock footage.

Really this release is a no brainier for both fans & non-fans alike, and it stands as one of my early highlights of 2016!. This release in both itís DVD & Blue-ray forms is unlimited with large distribution- so youíll be easily be able to pick this up from both independent & larger chain shops.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
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