Smell My Picture(2008)
The years of 2005 to 2007 were fruitful for The Residents. Despite the fact that the trend in selling music had taken a drastic turn to the concept of downloading songs instead of buying albums, the group charged onward. In fact, The Residents responded to this download concept as any self-absorbed artist would - by flying mightily and its face.
The group decided what was really needed was a change in the perception of what defines an "album." They elected to impose an overlying narrative and turn the album into some kind of audio movie. They have successfully done things similar to this before, notably Eskimo.
The first project was called River of Crime. It featured five short stories, all narrated in the past tense. River of Crime presented tales of one man's brushes with crime, five times over the years, stretching from childhood to young adulthood.
The second album was Tweedles, a first-person tale of a young man who was too handsome and charismatic for his own good. Tweedles wasn't actually a story, but more a series of vignettes, giving brief insights into the life of a person who has never known rejection but he still feels the sting of loss in a most unexpected way.
The third album of this trilogy was The Voice of Midnight. Forgoing all voiceover narrative, The Voice of Midnight stepped into new territory by letting the characters tell the story of a young man obsessed with the imaginary character of The Sandman. Based on the short story written in 1817 by ETA Hoffmann, The Voice of Midnight was a complex tale of madness, perhaps The Residents' greatest achievement to date.
A great deal of music was written for these projects, more than would ever make it onto the final releases. The CD, Smell My Picture, collects much of the leftover music that was written during this period.
The term "smell my picture" came from a description by one of The Residents of the process of making The Voice of Midnight. He suggested that making a movie with sound was very much like smelling photographs instead of looking at them. From that point on, when anyone had recordings he wished others to hear, he would say, "smell my picture." The phrase caught on and is now widely used by the group when seeking idea feedback.