Exposé Online banner

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum — Grand Opening and Closing
(Seeland 523, 2001, CD)

by Mike Grimes, 2001-12-01:

Grand Opening and Closing Cover art

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.


by Mike Ezzo, 2001-12-01:

It sounds cheesy to admit but the cover art for this CD is what I thought most impressive about it. Independent releases are usually fraught with problems in presentation. But SGM come at you with a fully realized, professional package, with a story / concept that is either utter nonsense, or merely unbelievable. Nay, just what this band's intentions are is a mystery to me. But anyway it's a great package and helps to define their character. Their sound is made up of nearly equal parts of sludgy Crimsoid riffertronics (delivered with hardly more delicacy than a death metal band), and on the other hand a daring side whose dual voices and tricky rhythms that crumble without breaking speak of an Art Bears influence. It isn't too far away from American RIO-ers like the 5uu's. Having said that, there is very little other than the humor that would expose SGM as an American group. Often in the case of experimental projects, the chimera of technology is too great to resist, but SGM seem to have accomplished it mainly by virtue of hands on instruments, rather than knobs and buttons. How they pull this off live must be something to see. Keep it up and they could possibly join Cuneiform's roster in the near future.


by Mike McLatchey, 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!


Filed under: New releases , Issue 23 , 2001 releases

Related artist(s): David Shamrock, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Carla Kihlstedt

More info

Latest news

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Annbjørg Lien - Aliens Alive – Annbjørg Lien’s career has taken her from traditional Norwegian solo fiddling to 2000’s Baba Yaga, with its progressive and world music influences. On this live release, she and her band (a total...  (2003) » Read more

Edward Ka-Spel - A Long Red Ladder to the Moon – A Long Red Ladder to the Moon is the latest in a long string of EKS solo releases. Considering Edward’s cassette, EP, LP, and CD output since 1984, this is something like number 30 and it is like a...  (2006) » Read more

Roine Stolt - Wall Street Voodoo – Roine Stolt has certainly been a prolific musician the last several years. The Kaipa, Flower Kings, and Transatlantic guitarist / vocalist has released what seems like a couple of albums per year...  (2006) » Read more

For Absent Friends - Square One – If you like more rock with your progressive, this is the album for you. Dutch band For Absent Friends’ eighth album is 45 minutes of solidly played (dare I say it?) neo-progressive that is...  (2008) » Read more

David Tudor - Microphone – In 1973 longtime John Cage associate David Tudor recorded the two pieces on this album, which could best be described as ambient sonic experimentation. Low register audio outbursts of varying tone and...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues