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Meet The Residents Wiki

Mark of the Mole is the eighth album by The Residents, released on September 15th 1981 on Ralph Records as the first volume of the group's ambitious (and ultimately unfinished) six-part Mole Trilogy.

Mark of the Mole details a conflict between two differing cultures: the Mohelmot, or "Moles", a subterranean society whose gods offer salvation through hard labor; and the Chubs, a leisurely and vapid species who live in luxurious homes by the sea.

It was followed by the 1982 companion album The Tunes of Two Cities, and both albums comprised the set list to the group's 1982-1983 tour The Mole Show.


After the lukewarm reception of Commercial Album from the once-friendly New Wave music press, The Residents began to feel angry, confused, and frustrated.

Deciding that "a disaster was in order", they set about composing a trilogy of albums which told a multi-generational story of a conflict of two cultures, and began recording what would become the first entry of the series, Mark of the Mole.


Mark of the Mole draws on various tales from the Great Depression, such as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. It opens with a radio broadcast (narrated by Penn Jillette) of a warning about a storm brewing over the lands which contain the tunnels of the Mohelmot.

The Mohelmot are a strange race of cloaked figures who prefer to live underground and who are known as "Moles" as a result. The storm arrives quickly and floods the Moles out of their homes, forcing them to migrate across the desert to the sea, where the Chubs live. The Chubs are a chubby, vacuous people who live for pleasure in a cozy pop culture.

The Chubs embrace the arriving Moles, seeing them as a good source of cheap labor. The hard-working Moles soon alienate the Chubs, however. The Chubs begin to complain about the Moles taking all the good jobs and marrying the Chubs' daughters; all the usual redneck complaints about immigrants, of which The Residents had heard plenty when they were growing up in Louisiana.

The tension between the two groups comes to a head when the Chubs create a "New Machine" to eliminate the need for manual labor altogether, offending the Moles (whose desire to work is driven by their religious beliefs). A short war breaks out, but ultimately ends without a clear victor.

Afterwards, everything reverts to the way it was before, with the situation remaining just as tense as ever. The short instrumental piece "Resolution?" ends Mark of the Mole without a clear conclusion to the narrative, which would have continued in the never completed Part Three of The Mole Trilogy. The liner notes to the 1985 album The Big Bubble explain that the war ended with no clear winner, and that the two warring cultures continued to live together in uneasy peace for at least one more generation.


Mark of the Mole was the first part of a projected trilogy of six albums (three albums to tell the full narrative of the trilogy, with another three albums focusing on the music of the fictional Mole and Chub cultures). It is notable for being The Residents' first release to feature no credits whatsoever in its first pressing.

The Residents combined the story and music from Mark of the Mole with that of the next album, The Tunes of Two Cities, to create their Mole Show performance tour in 1982. This, the group's first attempt at a large-scale live performance, became a major financial disaster for The Residents, and ultimately led to the cancellation of the Mole Trilogy altogether after the release of The Big Bubble in 1985.

Mark of the Mole was reissued on CD in 1988 by ESD and Torso, featuring the tracks from the group's related EP Intermission as bonus material. It was later reissued again on CD without the Intermission tracks. A newly remastered and pREServed edition of Mark of the Mole features on the first disc of the 2019 six-disc collection Mole Box, along with the other releases in the Mole Trilogy, and three hours of additional previously unreleased material.


An Atari 2600 game based on the album was being developed by Greg Easter in 1983, but was ultimately cancelled. If it had been completed and released, it would have been one of the very first music-based video games.

A novel based on the album was also written in 1985 by an otherwise unknown author named T.D. Wade, although it was never published. A short excerpt of the novel was published in Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide To The Residents in 1993.

Track listing

Side A: Hole-Workers at the Mercy of Nature (19:13)

  1. Voices of the Air (2:56)
  2. The Ultimate Disaster (8:59)
    1. Won't You Keep Us Working? Working Down Below?
    2. First Warning
    3. Back to Normality
    4. The Sky Falls
    5. Why Are We Crying
    6. The Tunnels Are Filling
    7. It Never Stops
  3. Migration (7:18)
    1. March Into The Sea
    2. The Observer
    3. Hole-Worker's New Hymn

Side B: Hole-Workers vs. Man and Machine (22:01)

  1. Another Land (4:41)
    1. Rumors
    2. Arrival
    3. Deployment
    4. Saturation
  2. The New Machine / Final Confrontation (17:20)*
    1. Idea
    2. Construction
    3. Failure/Reconstruction
    4. Success
    5. Driving The Moles Away
    6. Don't Tread On Me
    7. The Short War
    8. Resolution

*Presented as singular track on original CD pressings

1988 CD pressing

  1. Voices Of The Air (2:56)
  2. The Ultimate Disaster (8:59)
  3. Migration (7:18)
  4. Another Land (4:41)
  5. The New Machine / Final Confrontation (17:20)
  6. Lights Out (Prelude) (5:54)
  7. Shorty's Lament (Intermission) (6:48)
  8. The Moles Are Coming (Intermission) (2:58)
  9. Would We Be Alive (Intermission) (5:13)
  10. The New Hymn (Recessional) (4:21)

2011 CD pressing

  1. Voices Of The Air (2:55)
  2. The Ultimate Disaster (8:55)
  3. Migration (7:15)
  4. Another Land (4:43)
  5. The New Machine (7:16)
  6. Final Confrontation (9:49)
  7. Ralph Record 1977 Radio Special Part 1 (From Eat Exuding Oinks)

2019 'Mole Box' version

  1. Voices Of The Air (2:55)
  2. The Ultimate Disaster (8:54)
  3. Migration (7:15)
  4. Another Land (4:43)
  5. The New Machine (7:16)
  6. Final Confrontation (9:57)
  7. Voices Of The Air (Res Dance '82, Live In The Studio) (3:13)
  8. The Ultimate Disaster (Res Dance '82, Live In The Studio) (4:50)
  9. Migration (Res Dance '82, Live In The Studio) (7:43)
  10. Another Land / The New Machine (Res Dance '82, Live In The Studio) (11:24)
  11. Final Confrontation (Res Dance '82, Live In The Studio) (8:19)


From 1988 CD pressings

Release history

Year Label Format Region Length*
1981 Ralph Records LP US 41:14
1988 East Side Digital CD
Torso NL
1989 LP 41:04
1994 Euro Ralph CD EU 41:14
1997 Bomba Records JP 40:44
1998 East Side Digital US 40:52
2005 Mute EU 40:53
2011 Birdsong & Hayabusa Landings JP
2019 MVD Audio, Cherry Red, New Ralph Too EU, US 41:00

*Not including Bonus Tracks

See also

Listen online

External links and references

Motm-transparent-sml.png Mark of the Mole
Part One of The Mole Trilogy

Side A: Hole-Workers at the Mercy of Nature
"Voices of the Air" · "The Ultimate Disaster" · "Migration"

Side B: Hole-Workers vs. Man and Machine
"Another Land" · "The New Machine" · "Final Confrontation"

The Residents · Nessie Lessons · Penn Jillette

Related works
The Mole Trilogy (The Tunes of Two Cities · Part Three · The Big Bubble) · The Mole Show (Live At The Roxy · Mole Show VHS · Live In Holland · Mole Bag) · Intermission · Mark of the Mole video game (Greg Easter) · Assorted Secrets (Res Dance '82) · Mark of the Mole novel (T.D. Wade) · "Mole Suite" · Mole Box

Related articles
Ralph Records · The Cryptic Corporation · Grove St. studio · Porno Graphics · Moles · Chubs
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