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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Grand Opening And Closing CD (album) cover

GRAND OPENING AND CLOSING

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.71 | 85 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

DJPuffyLemon
5 stars EDIT (1/3/10): Score lowered to 4 stars, some amorocity has died off.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is in my opinion one of the best new bands in prog and music in general. They push the boundaries just like Magma, Frank Zappa, and King Crimson. That I have dropped the names of those three bands is no accident, because Sleepytime is on par with those three greats. Grand Opening and Closing is one of the best debut albums I have ever heard, but like every debut it suffers from inexperience.

Sleep is Wrong: completely chaotic, yet completely organized. This could be considered the essential Sleepytime song. The way this group changes tempos and beats so suddenly is just amazing and the stop in the middle adds to the effect. Throughout the song, you can hear a rumbling bass which completely overpowers the listener without overpowering the song. My favorite part is at about 1:50; Nils Frykdahl's barking of the lyrics fits perfectly in this section, and in the entire song as well. The finale has so much energy and the bass gets a boost in the mix, completely overpowering both listener and song, in a good way. Of note is just how well Carla's beautiful voice contrasts with the grating of Nils at the end.

Ambugaton is a much more controlled song. It is quiet through the first 3 minutes, slowly building up until the guitar and drums reek havok. A very good instrumental track until around 4:35, when Nils cries out 'Ambugaton!', which means 'Extreme chaos resulting in a community that was once peaceful.' If one listens to the track again after knowing this, then everything makes sense. One word has never meant so much.

Ablusions begins with Carla's first lead vocal performance. The track could almost be considered ambient until the wind chimes come in. Another good duet between Nils and Carla. One thing which could potentially be annoying is the whispered counting after the duet. But it works in the context of the song. The interplay between instruments to vocals is great, not to mention the more standard instrumental interplay. This song is quieter than the previous two because it is meant to be a lullaby, or if its the Sleepytime I'm thinking of, a satire of a lullaby.

1997, my favorite track along with Sleep is Wrong and Powerless, starts off with a siren in the distance, coming closer until the guitar takes over in an incredible riff. Their most accessible track, and only straightout rocker on the album. Unfortunately, its flaws show after repeated listens. Whereas the rest of the album is a grower, this is a great song which gets bland instead of improves after listening to it. Reason being that it does not have the subtleties of the other songs. Still an amazing track for its catchy riffs and interaction between guitar and violin.

The Miniature is a short little interlude with cartoony violin work. Pretty entertaining actually.

Powerless is interesting from the first bass hit. Guitar and random sounds work around the bass for the two minutes until Nils jumps in with vocals, from then on the song gets very heavy, its probably the heaviest on the entire album. Best part of the song: the bassline at 3:59. Nils gets my vote for best vocalist because of this song. Despite the title, this song is VERY powerful. It potentially could drag on because it is over nine minutes long, but that is only if you do not enjoy avant-garde music. It is nine minutes well spent in my opinion because it stays interesting and changes itself up throughout. Probably the best song on the album.

The Stain has the most simple lyrics, presented humorously. The riffs that tie this song together sound random, but when Sleepytime uses random, the result is a completely organized and logical song. Again, the bass' prominent lines blow the listener away. Near the end though The Stain kinda gets into an aimless improv but it picks up in the last minute. More interesting than mindblowing. Not as good as the songs which preceded it.

Sleepytime is an odd song. It builds up slowly for a few minutes and climaxes, sounding almost jazzy, the drums, guitar, and that amazing bass all doing their own thing, fitting in a part of the puzzle. The arrangements are weaker on this track than anywhere else on the album. All in all, a little bit of a disappointment, but worth listening to for the climax I mentioned.

Sunflower...should have been left off.

Grand Opening and Closing has something many great albums lack, an almost impossible amount of energy and emotion not just from the vocalists, but from the instruments themselves. Each song sounds different and unique, from the hard rocking 1997, to the powerful ballad Powerless, to the 'lullaby' Ablusions. The bassist, Dan Rathbun, is a god! By the way, the inexperience I said earlier that it suffered from: it is only noticable when you listen to their next album!

NOTE ON THE RATING: When I rate, I rate based on the website's words next to the stars. This debut is definately a step forward for the progressive rock genre as a whole. In time I would not be surprised if this album was considered as essential as King Crimson's debut.

DJPuffyLemon | 5/5 |

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