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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum — Grand Opening and Closing
(Seeland 523, 2001, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, Published 2001-12-01
The grand opening and closing of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is an event one would hope they would repeat ad infinitum. First there was Idiot Flesh and, somewhere in between, Charming Hostess, two of the bay area's most important and drastically innovative musical projects. Members Nils Frykdahl and Dan Rathbun hail from both, with Carla Kihlstedt from Charming Hostess, and they are joined by percussionist Moe! Staiano and David Shamrock on drums (and after midway through the album Shamrock moves to Thinking Plague, replaced by Species Being virtuoso Frank Grau, who appears on one track here). Sleepytime Gorilla Musem create one of the most incredibly vital avant-rock styles of today, a fusion of influences from hardcore to the experimental. The Frykdahl penned tracks are the most in-your-face, such as the powerful, declamatory "Sleep is Wrong," a numbingly heavy opener with bludgeoning beat and wonderfully avant guitar and violin melody. "Powerless" is similar, but more menacing and intense. It is tribute to the Museum's great talent that they can fuse this punkish angst with such blatantly experimental tendencies so successfully. And, of course, there is "1997," and if it doesn't kick your ass all over the place, you're probably dead. In between the Frykdahl tracks, there are a number of widely varying pieces, from the bizarre, highly avant-garde "Ablutions," to the lovely "Miniature," a piece that reminds me a lot of the acoustic instrumentals of live Deus ex Machina. Albums rarely get more interesting than this. Don't be caught sleeping!
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