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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum — Grand Opening and Closing
(Seeland 523, 2001, CD)
by Mike Grimes, Published 2001-12-01
After two years of playing astounding shows in the Bay Area and with a national tour under their belt, this band finally has an album out! Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is a Bay Area supergroup of sorts. Bassist Dan Rathbun and guitarist / vocalist Nils Frykdahl emerged from the ashes of Idiot Flesh and joined forces with fellow Charming Hostess bandmate and violinist Carla Kihlstedt, Moe!kestra percussionist extraordinaire Moe! Staiano, original drummer David Shamrock, and current drummer Frank Grau of Species Being. The band plays and writes with an amazing intensity and passion. At times, they are all-out headbanging — especially during the crowd favorite "1997." At other times, the music is so sparse it almost seems at a standstill. Parts of "Ablutions" and the closing song "Sunflower" could definitely be called minimalist. It's rock music, but with some unusual sonic twists. A distinctive aspect to the band's sound is their use of several homemade instruments, including a piano-string bass, a percussion guitar, and a massive arsenal of unusual percussion instruments. The band creates a unique sound that comes not just from using these interesting instruments, but also from writing and performing really interesting and truly original material. Frykdahl's low growling voice is a stark contrast to Kihlstedt's soprano tone. But... somehow they sound natural singing together. The recording quality of the CD is simply excellent too. For an album that's been a long time coming, it is definitely worth the wait. This is absolutely one of the best albums of the year and comes with my highest recommendation.
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