The Voice of Midnight(2007)
OverviewTracksLiner NotesLyrics

The Residents have a long history of story-based music projects, starting with 1974's Not Available, continuing with God in 3 Persons in 1988, and more recently The River of Crime in 2006. With The Voice of Midnight, The Residents have now taken a bold step, crossing a line into the world of music theater.

For The Voice of Midnight, The Residents have adapted a short story, Der Sandmann, by Prussian writer E.T.A. Hoffman. The story was first published 190 years ago.

On the surface, Der Sandmann is a simple story of madness. However, it has been recognized as addressing the conflict between the age of reason and the romantic era by scholars who have studied the tale. It has been adapted, in parts, by Jacques Offenbach for his opera The Tales of Hoffman, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for The Nutcracker Suite, and for the ballet Coppelia. Freud extensively interpreted Der Sandmann in his famous essay Das Unheimliche in 1919. Freud was fascinated by Hoffman's obsession with eyeballs.

The protagonist of the story is Nathaniel (Nate) who carries a deeply-seated fear that the childhood fable character, the sandman, is stalking him. The character of Nate is superbly performed by Corey Rosen who first worked with The Residents on River of Crime in 2006. Nate's fiance, Clair, a steadfast realist, is performed by Gerri Lawler who also worked on River of Crime as well as Tweedles. Long time Residents collaborator Carla Fabrizio performs the role of the other "woman," Olympia (who in the original story is a robot).

The Residents embody the other characters, and perform the music, assisted by soloist Nolan Cook, whose guitar work for the Residents over the last eight years is legendary.

The Ughs!(2009)

When The Residents begin work on their 2007 opus to insanity, The Voice of Midnight, the group felt the need to shake things up. Internal forces were pulling them in different directions, with some feeling compelled to follow the purity of an intellectual approach, while others favored the immediacy and rawness of their emotions. Unable to reconcile these different needs within their traditional structure, the group came up with a novel solution, creating an alter ego through which they could act out new roles, consequently freeing themselves from previous perspectives.

The Residents then promptly christened this conceptual alter ego as THE UGHS!

Realizing that their new direction was not unlike the methodology of psychodrama, they immediately saw THE UGHS as the perfect vehicle for exploring the conflicted emotions of Nate, the Voice of MIdnight's tormented protagonist, and threw themselves into a feverish schedule, recording loose and spontaneous music night and day. Working backwards from this improvised beginning, The Residents then fashioned "written music" from the raw, impulsive ideas they had created. The entire musical structure of The Voice of Midnight was built on these pieces.

For the next two years these original Ughs recordings languished in a box containing various demos, rough ideas and backup files, until someone, in a moment of idle curiosity, put one in a CD player. One-by-one, everyone in the room began to listen. Hearing it with fresh ears, the music of THE UGHS, freed from its previous role supporting The Voice of Midnight's narrative, sounded as fresh and dynamic as it did when it was first recorded. The time had come to resurrect THE UGHS.

Falling in the direction of a ritualized, primitive free jazz, some will find THE UGHS startling and unpleasant, while others will appreciate the humanity and beauty underlying its rough surface. Regardless, no longer cloaked in the darkness of midnight, THE UGHS is unlike anything ever recorded by The Residents.