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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History CD (album) cover

OF NATURAL HISTORY

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.11 | 201 ratings

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The Ace Face
5 stars This album is truely progressive in that it takes music to new levels where it has never gone before, and does it all with one of the most ridiculously talented bands i know. Their sound is more unique and immediately identifiable than any other band, with characteristic noises and instruments as well as the juxtapositioning of Nils Frydahl's growling screaming vocals and Carla Kihlstedt's soaring melodies. The big thing I like about this band that wins me over for most bands is the drama and power they inject into their songs. This gives the music a human feel, and that is what people search most for in music: songs they can connect or relate to. The concept is not entirely evident, but there has been a very thorough review done above, and I cannot see anything else of significance. On to the tunes!

A Hymn to the Morning Star: Truly a hymn of sorts, this song opens with low crooning by Nils, interrupted by bursts of choirs in the high upper registers. A beautiful opener, not an adjective usually associated with this band, but don't worry, it won't be beautiful for long. The instrumentation in the background is masterful, with muted guitar/violin plucks and some glockenspiel tones. During the high chorus, the bass guitar comes in with pounding tones, and perfectly augments it all. The scary closing notes allude to the next song...

The DHAOHOTD: Some dissonant guitar tones overlap the low pedal tones overflowing from the hymn, and soon the guitar starts sounding very evil, reminiscent of Robert Fripp. The violin mimicks it and it sounds positively demonic. The drums are pounding, skull bashing, and Nils sings with such anger that I jumped out of my seat when I heard it first. He tells of how the Adversary is watching us, and then assumes his role and preaches anger and hate to the human race. The random instrumental violin breaks keep me interested, as the super heavy metal is not really my thing. They do it well, however, and the violins build into the heavy phrase of Mankind, is a plague! Then we get an eerie, slightly less intense section, while Nils describes all the ways humanity has destroyed the earth, and how they will come back to kill us in the end. The closing line throws us out of our minds with the sudden break.

Phthisis: Starting off with a cool syncopated riff on some weird stringed instrument, and Carla comes in to soar to awesome, hair-raising heights with her majestic voice. Plenty of random percussion instruments accompany all this, along with violent bursts of yelling from Nils. The violin follows Carla's melody, and it sounds soooooooo perfect. For the last part, Nils and Carla share a new, almost chanted lead vocal part, while everything grows in intensity. A few blasting notes close the song, with a swirl of unidentified noises that die out, until the final repetition of the main riff. Right after this, a new beat is started, introducing...

Bring Back the Apocalypse: A mainly instrumental song with some intense singing near the end, this song is testament to the uniqueness of SGM. As the unusual percussion intensifies, so does the weird chanting. This all dies down to introduce the new riff, a complex one, I cannot quite identify the time signature. Nils jumps in with someone else, chanting Bring back, bring it back, sounding quite out of breath. A xylophone joins the fray, and the singing cuts out to reveal odd noises. This reminds me of Frances the Mute, from the Mars Volta. The fly-buzzing sound floats over into...

Freedom Club: A theme using only bass guitar and xylophone is played, and sounds awesome. An eerie vocal part comes in, telling us to turn away from everything that the human race embodies. Soon a pounding bass riff introduces us to the next part, with Let us dream now the impossible dream of a math professor. This gets heavier, with hypnotic violins churning in the background, while Nils tells about the future of the earth, filled with death, hate, destruction. In the role of the Unabomber he seems most comfortable, even if he is destroying his voice to do so. The drums are spectacular as always. Now the next narrated interlude: Let us not forget that the human race with technology is like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine. Nils is frantically angry now, roaring like a lion, and the guitars and drums intensify to suit the mood. Some random glockenspiel again, and the violin is on a constant 16th note solo up and down and everywhere, and all the while, Nils calms down a tiny bit, only to let the next narrated interlude leads us into the heaviest part again. The anger here is undeniable, and that is the overall mood of SGM towards most everything. Now it calms down again, and returns to the beginning them, xylophones and falsettos. It ends with a xylophone trill, and the spoken, Because we can.

Gunday's Child: this is one of my favorite songs ever, being an anti-war song, and the melody/riff are just unbelievable. The lullaby in the middle sung by Nils and co. is great, telling how animals work together to fight back against humans, and Carla's lead vocal again is just hair-raising. Some cool guitar arpeggios start it off, and the lullaby melody on synth. Some awesomely placed clicking noises and funky bass notes only add to the perfection of this song. Carla sounds stoned at first, softly crooning to the world. The bass plugs away under this with some super heavy notes, and is speeds up to bring in the main riff on guitar and violin, which just blows me away. Carla goes much higher now, pouring emotion into her voice. The demonic coda by Nils and Carla is powerful, leading us into the falsetto lullaby bridge section. Some low cello notes fade in in the background, and the incessant clicking continues, never out of place. The song starts to build, again in the slower crooning mode, but soon it launches into outer space again. The riff starts going faster and faster, and strumming faster, until the HUGE climax. indescribable. I love it. Carla ends it with here eerie whispered screech of rotted away. Some harsh guitar swirls come in, making me think of Billy Corgan and his pumpkins.

The 17-year Cicada: Another show off track for SGM's unique instrumentality, with tons of weird noises to accompany what appears to be a rhythm created entirely from guitar harmonics. Some shrieking flute notes come in, played by Nils, and all the time a steady bumping keeps the beat, along with what sounds like trashcan lid drums. All this slowly fades and goes right into...

The Creature: A mainly spoken word track, this song is amazing anyways. The the opening is so complex and weird i cannot describe it. The main beat is kept by breathing noises and drumsticks clicking. Random glockenspiel and guitar notes come in when necessary. The Creature described is technology, humanity's new god who requires more sacrifices than the previous two gods. Some scary dripping noises augment this already strange song, while an incessant drone is always playing in the background. Soon the vocals are screamed and spoken at the same time by two different people. A different enemy is introduced to distract humanity from the true enemy, the Creature itself. The chaotic noises continue to add, until there is a solo on some strange instrument, and the solo is on the pentatonic scale. WHAT? SGM? Using REAL MUSIC TECHNIQUE? It seems to work. The ending of the song is the same ridiculous intro, and the final note leads into an old man talking about random things.

What Shall We Do Without Us?: A violin chorus with clicking underneath brings us into this song, with more spooky vocals from Carla. It soon gets very intense with the riffing and distorted vocals, but then shuts off into violin mode again. Crickets chirping provide the fade into another Old Man Talking, which leads us into ...

Babydoctor: A simple guitar theme starts us off at a relatively slow pace, but don't be fooled. This song is the most intense on the album, and it takes the longest to build to that point, too. After the intro, we get introduced to a middle-eastern tinged melody, with repeated Thank yous. The bass jumps in to jump the octave, and the drums provide a very simple beat. With some weird lyrics involving counting, Nils only adds to the mystery and emotion of this song. Its hard to follow, and the violin starts to have some action as the drama unfolds more and more. The drums pick up in volume, and the violin starts to sound like som unearthly creature in its death throes. Nils, predictably, begins to scream, growl, roar, shriek, and spit his way through the heavy section. The drums have many awesome fills and the guitar and violin serve to unharmonize with one another. when the vocals cut out the instruments get more and more intense. Nils begins to sound unhuman, his most horrible, yet so perfectly in tune with the music. I love it! I have always hated extreme death metal, and upon hearing this I'm not gonna go listen to slipknot, but they do it very well. This all cuts out to a wavering glockenspiel note, and the original Thank you theme returns in the far distance, complete with violin. However, it stays in the distance and fades out, while more Old men converse about random, nonsensical things. A member of the band appears to be in the conversation.

Cockroach: All I can say is, BEST CLOSING SONG EVER! Huge drama and emotion in Nil's voice, but it is ironic because he is singing to a cockroach who is living is his trash. The style is awesome, and i dont know what it is, but its soooooo good. The untitled track is not really a song, more of a coda to the awesomeness that is Of Natural History.

Overall, amazing music, listen to it. Please.

The Ace Face | 5/5 |

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