Just before the end of 2022, Cherry Red Books and the Cryptic Corporation released a book about the Residents. The book, Faceless Forever, is a handy go-to guide about the legendary avant-garde group. While simple in its design, this “Encyclopaedia” is filled with information and trivia that all Residents fans will enjoy.
So let’s get one thing out of the way: it’s hard to review an encyclopedia. Hell, it’s a stretch to call this an encyclopedia: at 293 pages, Faceless Forever is the length of your average paperback book. Then again, it isn’t the type of book you’re going to read from beginning to end. Though this is the Residents we’re talking about here: almost everything that they do is unconventional. What can be said about this book? As you would expect from any encyclopedia, everything related to the Residents is organized in alphabetical order. A bold heading is given to the term/topic at hand, after which you’ll see a paragraph or more on the term/topic. Some terms/topics have long entries while others are less than a paragraph. An example of the latter, you ask? J. Aaron has a short entry. He was apparently on Meet The Residents to add wah-wah guitar on “Infant Tango.” Then, according to the book, “He was never seen again.”
The entry on J. Aaron is an example of what makes this encyclopedia different from others: it has a sense of humor. Authors Jim Knipfel and Brian Poole are able to present accurate facts to the many terms/topics associated with the Residents while also being quirky and cryptic. Take the entry on the band member known simply as Carlos, for example. His entry is mostly about how his backstory being debated, with the entry telling the reader to choose which ever backstory they want…or make your own! There’s also the entry on Cha Cha, who was a drummer for the group during the late 2010s. His entry ends be stating he was the “cute one.” For a group as mysterious and off-beat as the Residents, it’s only fitting their encyclopedia has some humor.
The book excels at giving information on every part of the Residents’ history. The strongest part of the book are the entries on the group’s albums, specifically their conceptual ones. Following the overview of each album, there’s other entries about the characters and their backstories. Along with the group’s albums and tours, there’s entries on the other things the group as released: everything from home videos, CD-Roms and the address for significant locations.
Overall, Faceless Forever is a good go-to guide for any Residents fan. Despite it not being too long or having any pictures in it, you might be surprised by what you learn just from flipping thru this. If you’re an avid Residents fan, you’ll wanna have this in your collection.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.