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Boomkat Product Review:
If you're experience of traveling carnivals extends little beyond having some bloke jump on the back of your dodgem car as you hurtle gallantly around an arena of injured children, then The Residents are here to guide you through the less savoury annals of transient fair history. As ever with The Residents, presentation is a major factor - and 'Freak Show' is no exception. Housed in a hardback comic book, the accompanying artwork is a series of graphic vignettes that bring in a different artist each and tell a short but compulsive tale of life on the carnival road, straight from the wrong-side of the Styx. Originally released back in 1990, 'Freak Show' became a multimedia epic - mutating into a comic book, DVD, computer game and even a stage show. Given the lavish double disc treatment here, the music CD is accompanied by a bostin' DVD of animated features - bringing to life the excursions of Herman The Human Mole, Benny The Bouncing Bump and the Pickled Punks in garish Technicolor. Possibly the most affecting of the stories included here is that of Harry The Head - wherein genuine pathos and vitriol are incorporated into a tale of anger, love and betrayal. But what of the music? Undoubtedly best when in the context of the visual accompaniment, The Residents nonetheless ensure that the sounds can more than stand up on their own - drafting in a slew of guest vocalists to further expand their tented universe. Theatrical in the best possible sense, the likes of 'Harry Watches TV', 'Benny - The Bouncing Bump' and 'Jack Amuses The Crowd' dispense with some of The Residents more overt queasiness - instead bringing a raucous and threatening breed of burlesque soundtrack to the table. Clever, immediate and musically articulate, 'Freak Show' is well worth rolling up for. Big top!