Sleepytime Gorilla Museum of Natural History
Aiming to Answer Common Questions
Web of Mimicry
San Francisco is a fertile breeding ground for bands with high brow artistic intentions and nearly unlistenable music. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum follows this tradition, with a blend of chanting and yelping vocals, polyphonic mismatched drums and the occasional identifiable chord, mercilessly adrift in a sea of sound and unlikely to ever hook up with its friends. Now, none of this appears to be just random banging of the instruments to abuse them. Rather, there is a story line of sorts. I may be way overstepping my bounds here, but if you take the CD jacket at face value, we are viewing the world from the perspective of a house fly, a man and the bristlecone pine. Or at least singing about it. The common thought they return to is, “The human race with technology is like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine.”
I admit a long ago obsession with the Residents, and these guys are cut from the same non-conformist cloth. There’s a large dollop of shock value here; not in the sense of “Oh, how tragic,” but in the sense of “You listen to THAT?” Consider that the best and highest use for this album, or consider it as background music to your performance art piece. That said, the musicianship is good, with a strong, ominous building of tension on “Freedom Club,” and quieter items, such as the intro to “Gundays’ Child.” But we often end up back in the land of confusing sonic assault. While I’m not in love with this band, there is at least one outstanding song that stands on it’s own in a Doctor Demento way. “Cockroach” is a love song to everyone’s least favorite life form. Yeah, they are disgusting and a worthy topic for a folk song, and that’s what rescues this record.