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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - "On Natural History"

Monday 6 February 2006

From the greeting by an angry dog on the opening song, all the way through to the bonus track, one can’t help but feel that the members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum are not quite sane. In fact, in a world of big music labels and competition above all, it is incredible that a band like Sleepytime was ever signed on at all… However, the world does not stop at EMI or Virgin. And thank goodness that people like Trey Spruance exist to sign on whatever the hell the like.

Indeed, Spruance – like his Mr. Bungle buddy, Mike Patton – created Mimicry Records a couple of years back with the expressed intention of allowing great bands to get their voices out there. In the case of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, what came out is not exactly a voice as such... Some would call it annoying noise. But the wise should perceive the fantastic, extremely experimental music. When one listens to “A Hymn to a Morning Star”, one can’t help but notice the immense influence that Sir Mike Patton has had on this crazy gang. The voice feels quite similar and the music is somewhat constructed according to similar innovative schemes.

Stopping at this comparison would, however, be very unfair to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and anyone who listens to Of Natural History will see why. Tracks like “Phthisis” are brilliantly unique, radiating a new form of musical intensity – imagine Bjork meets Faith No More… The band seems to be composed of people capable of taking from musical sources what they think to be good, while omitting the crappy, soppy bits. This ability reminds us of the best experimental bands of the 1970’s, including Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. In a modern context, you could say that we are faced with a metal version of Godspeed You Black Emperor!... But with more kick to it. The instruments used by the band members show this only too well - electric pancreas, percussion guitar, slide piano, pedal-action wiggler. We are miles away from sanity yet creating one’s own musical instruments is a sure sign of genius…

Created by Tin Hat Trio’s violinist, Carla Kihlstedt, and by the two founding members of Idiot Flesh (Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl), Sleepytime Gorilla Museum knows it will never be famous. The band is too theatrical, too clever. It is a band that “dreams the impossible dream”, they tell us. Thank you Mr. Spruance for helping promote bands like this one. Let’s keep dreaming together...


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