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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum biography
This Frisco-based very unique band using some home-made instruments known from avantgarde music is existing since 1999 and became quite famous on the westcoast for their impressive dadaistic live shows.

The members are Nils Frykdahl (guitars,voice), Dan Rathbun (bass), Moe! Staiano (percussion), Carla Kihlstedt (violin, voice) and David Shamrock (drums, piano) who has been replaced on their second album by Frank Grau.

Although being almost unclassifiable their style could be roughly described as a Metal/RIO hybrid. The music can be very heavy at times but as well very atmospheric with plenty of different layers of all sorts of instruments also classical ones like violin and piano. Sometimes it reminds to SEPULTURA, sometimes to ISILDURS BANE or late KING CRIMSON. All musicians are very artistic on their instruments, the male voice is quite growling but still pleasant and Carlas voice is very reminiscent of BJVRK.

People who like both Metal and RIO/Avant-garde music will love it immediately. If you mind some Metal or high-pitched female vocs check it out first. Any adventurious listeners should give it a spin at least.

: : : Dieter Fischer, GERMANY : : :

Taken from The End Records:
The list of SGM-related projects reads like a who's who of SGM-related projects:

Carla: Tin Hat Trio, Two-Foot Yard, Book of Knots, InkBoat dance theater company
Nils: Faun Fables, InkBoat
Matthias: Book of Knots, Skeleton Key, Vic Thrill
Michael: Immersion Composition Society, Japonize Elephants
Dan: InkBoat, Producing SGM and countless others
Moe!: Moe!kestra (massive conducted ensembles), Vacuum Tree Head
Frank: Species Being
David: Thin Pillow, Thinking Plague

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum official website

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Grand Opening & ClosingGrand Opening & Closing
The End Records 2006
Audio CD$7.86
$2.94 (used)
In Glorious TimesIn Glorious Times
The End Records 2007
Audio CD$7.86
$1.01 (used)
Sleepytime Gorilla MuseumSleepytime Gorilla Museum
Mimicry 2004
Audio CD$28.99 (used)
LiveLive
Sick Room 2003
Audio CD$9.98
$6.00 (used)
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 85 ratings
Grand Opening And Closing
2001
4.13 | 193 ratings
Of Natural History
2004
3.83 | 103 ratings
In Glorious Times
2007

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 9 ratings
Live
2003

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.09 | 6 ratings
The Face
2005

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 193 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

4 stars To hear RIO music you need to have the time, the mood, an open mind and be ready to listen to the craziest things you may find. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum creates Of Natural History and like an extravagant dish, which some people may adore and others simply reject, the album is very complicate to digest. However, not being a fan of RIO, I must admit that the music is really crazy and complex, the vocals are, as to the guys who sing, really hard and aggressive and weird, as to the girl, mellow but strange. All the musicians seem to have a really high knowledge of what they play, they are accurate as well, and the disonances predominate, typical of RIO. If you are willing to hear something like this, OK, go ahead and take the leap, if not, don't even try!

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 Grand Opening And Closing by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.71 | 85 ratings

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Grand Opening And Closing
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars To an old-school Progger like myself the mayhem of SGM resembles a Death Metal update of GENTLE GIANT, complete with tricky time signatures and eclectic instrumentation (some of it homemade, or so I'm told). The difference is mostly in the (much) louder volume, some occasional dodecaphony, and a lead singer who in his calmer moments sounds like Gothmog the Orc general ordering his troops into Gondor.

I'll admit I respond more to the quieter passages (yes, there are some here: parts of "Ambugaton"; most of "Ablutions"), but that's just my age and Symphonic Rock upbringing. The Zen-like album-closer "Sunflower" offers a surprising model of sonic restraint, and the ten-plus minute title track presents an eerie lullaby for brain-scarred insomniacs, at least until Nils Frykdahl starts into his William Peter Blatty act (imagine Linda Blair in full pea-soup mode, wielding a microphone instead of a crucifix).

It's a difficult album to recommend, especially on a website where fully half of the top ten rated albums are currently by GENESIS and PINK FLOYD. The more refined side of my Proghead self is having a little difficulty awarding it more than three respectable stars, but my Avant Rock doppelgänger wants to unleash the opening onslaught of "Sleep is Bad" at a volume loud enough to disturb the neighbors the next time they fire up the snowblower at four in the morning. Bad? You'll find out sleep is damn near impossible, with noise like this...

Regardless of taste, we should all be grateful bands like SGM exist, if only to challenge a generation of listeners growing up in a world of stale cookie-cutter entertainment. So here it is, kids: your own stick of musical TNT, to help blow a hole in those cultural doldrums.

[ A quick postscript. My secondhand copy of the album has an overloaded, distorted sound which may or may not reflect the output of a pristine CD, but it's certainly appropriate. This is truly Rock in Opposition, sometimes to your actual sanity. ]

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 Grand Opening And Closing by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.71 | 85 ratings

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Grand Opening And Closing
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM is one of those bands that I hadn't really expected on Prog Archives. Not that they shouldn't be here, but they owe a lot to bands like FOETUS, COP SHOOT COP and other punk/noise/industrial terrorists from the end 80's/early 90's and Prog isn't exactly the first thing that comes to my mind in that context. And of course I shouldn't forget to mention a certain MR. BUNGLE.

Especially the first track sounds like a tribute to FOETUS's noise-jazz-avant approach, it's nothing new under the sun but executed really well. Next on is "Ambugation", starting with a gentle jazzy piece before launching into a heavy continuation with odd-time punk-prog riffs that remind me of NOMEANSNO. With the atonal 'Ablutions' the band show their avant chops. The eerie female vocals and dissonant accompaniment compete with similar KAYO DOT moments. Wonderful piece. After the relative calm comes the storm. '1997' is another Foetus-meets-Metallica-meets-Red Hot Chili Peppers slab of noise-rock. SGM may not be very original here but they do this type of swinging over-the-top brutality really well.

On to the first of the two 10 minute epics. 'Powerless' is where SGM fully come into their own and allow us for a peek into their own deranged mindset; sometimes noisy, sometime industrial, this is also a very proggy track with a superbly entrancing and groovy mid-section. After the bass-heavy dissonance of "The Stain", "Sleepytime" offers a more subtle threat, one lurking underneath a seemingly innocent lullaby that gradually turns into a nightmare. The peaceful and beautiful avant piece "Sunflower" is a great choice for an album closer.

SGM may not be the most original act around but they hit all the right buttons for me with their mix of avant and heavy noise-rock, achieving a catchy rocking vibe that I often miss in real full-fledged Avant Guarde rock. Approach with care though, both the avant and the noise-rock angle will be not be easy to get into if you're used to more traditional melodic material. A near masterpiece for me.

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 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 193 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's "Of Natural History" is a genuine oddity of avant garde prog with a blend of lunatic melodies mixed with metal distortion and some downright bizarre singing. The music is quite difficult to describe and exists in a league of its own. The band is made up of Nils Frykdahl on guitars, flute, Matthias Bossi on drums, glockenspiel, xylophone, Dan Rathbun on bass, log, roach, trombone, lute, Moe! Staiano on metal, wood, bowed spatula, glockenspiel, spring, paper, Carla Kihlstedt on violins, percussion guitar, autoharp, organ, and Frank Grau on drums, and melodica. It is certainly compelling music, bleak and eerie at times but never dull. The music interchanges so suddenly and aggressively forceful that it is rather unsettling, but it is an amazing achievement in sonic violence. The moments of beauty always have a beastly sound lurking around the door, and one never knows what to expect. The twisting musical shapes are jarring and at times amusing, in their ceaseless time signature changes. The concept of the album involves being dissatisfied with technology and attempts to escape modernity to embrace the old days of horse and cart. Technology is viewed as a monster, controlled by an adversary that must be defeated. The environmental message of returning to nature is veiled behind very obscure twisted lyrics, but it exists as a framework for the high strangeness. The breaking down of musical barriers is part of the exploration of breaking from societal control.

It begins with a snoring dog, and then some deep bass tone singing 'A Hymn to the Morning Star' that is bleak and very original in style. But there are no other songs on the album like this. The sound and style changes completely from song to song. 'The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion' is basically yelled phrases and very distorted guitars that get louder and louder. 'Pthisis' has a striking vocal of Carla that is very much in the style of Bjork, and some weird music appropriately serves as a landscape.

'FC The Freedom Club' is a raucous mini epic with a lot of power and aggressiveness. The music is frenetic, riffing Meshuggah guitars and a nasty syrupy blend of violent violins and dramatic drum blastbeats. The music is very intense and it builds into a fast tempo and some odd musical arrangements. This is what avant metal is all about. It even features some high register vocals that are kind of pretty on a background of glockenspiel and ethereal music. It ends with insect sounds in an imaginary forest creating a rather eerie atmosphere.

This blends nicely into 'Gunday's Child' with an acoustic intro and some strange melodies. It feels like a tuneful Residents song, even when the vocals come in, loudly mixed to the front end and whispered seductively. It builds into a manic bass heavy tempo with avant string sounds and some passionate singing. This song has some weird time sigs and is perhaps darker in style than previous tracks.

More cicada effects are heard for the appropriately titled 'The 17 Year Cicada', which is really a musical piece of Oriental percussion and some booming bass drums. The cicadas are intensely scattered along with high pitch pipes and frenetic flute playing. The roaches sound like they are being squished and strangles leading to the odd meter of 'The Creature'. This track is very dark with some heart pounding lyrics spoken out in a deep bass voice. It is a musical poetry about a perpetually hungry creature. The squishy sounds and bizarre music is very much like The Residents' style. This is perhaps the weirdest track on the album, with disturbing lyrics and breathing, insect noises, as well as dramatic creepy clangs and bangs. The bass is kind of like Primus, all over the place and out of sync with the weird guitar melodies.

The strong Southern American accent of spoken dialogue next reminds me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor on 'What Shall We Do Without Us'. It has a hillbilly violin sound, like Comus, a female vocal at times and then builds to loud crashing bass and guitar before returning to the violin hoedown sound and female vocals. This is as weird as they get, and ends with more crickets chirping. It all feels as though we are outside a shed listening in on a bunch of hillbilly lunatics.

The spoken dialogue returns to usher in the lengthy 'Babydoctor'. At 14 minutes this is the longest song and it begins slowly with strumming guitar and a creepy atmospheric drone. A heartbeat bass comes in with rhythmic tones, building in volume. It eventually gets extreme with growling vocals and a blend of fast percussion, guitars, strings and a plethora of heavy banging on homemade tools. The percussion is terrific, off kilter and jazzy. After an aggressive freakout, it drops into a slow tempo and some whispered voices. A tolling bell rings out and some eerie violins, creating an ominous atmosphere. Dialogue returns that makes little sense but adds to the uneasy feeling that something sinister is going to happen.

'Cockroach' follows with deeper vocals and some unusual effects, including squeaks, ethereal female vocal intonations and xylophones. 'The Hidden Track' follows that is not even hidden, which is part of the irony, and there are more cicada insect noises that build and those odd dialoguing men return. I like the bullfrog noises here and the overall night insect sounds. I wish I knew what the men are on about but it sounds deceptively like frivolous chatter. The insects continue for a while and then the snoring dog returns heard at the beginning of the album. It goes silent until bird whistles chime in, as if we have survived the night and are now in the dawn of day. The weird male voices sound as if they are mimicking nature's sounds.

I can only conclude that this is an album of an incredible original sound, disharmonious and experimental unlike any music I have heard. It deserves its reputation as a triumph of avant garde prog, as it is constantly striving to break down the barriers of music. It is brutally unsettling, but nevertheless a very compelling experience.

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 Live by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Live, 2003
2.75 | 9 ratings

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Live
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Earendil

4 stars If you listen to this album not as a recording of a music concert but as a dadaist performance, then maybe you will be able to appreciate it. That's really what I kept coming back to; the most accurate description of the album's attitude is dadaist . Out of the 16 tracks (taken from various SGM concerts), there are only a handful of actual songs that have appeared on studio albums. The rest is a mixture of improv, anecdotes, pseudo-intellectual tidbits, and insanity. If it were only for the music, this album might earn 2 stars because of the amount of "real" SGM songs and the recording quality which is not excellent. However, I think that people should listen to this, even if they hate it (and it certainly would not be difficult to have that reaction) because here is something unique. I really have never heard or seen another performance like this anywhere else. You might love or hate what you learn, but most likely it will be a combination of the two.The key is an open mind.

Rating: 7/10

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 In Glorious Times by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.83 | 103 ratings

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In Glorious Times
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's In Glorious Times finds the band in a slightly less theatrical mode than their preceding album, with the music seeming more real and immediate; if Of Natural History was a Vaudeville conception of avant-metal, this is more of a gritty and realistic movie soundtrack. Musically speaking, the band seem to be out to fuse the disturbing territories of Mr Bungle with the creepy chamber rock of Rock In Opposition legends Univers Zero, though the bizarre vocal approach is a 100% Sleepytime Gorilla original. Either way, the album is another successful experiment in balancing musical complexity and experimentation with way-out-there creepiness.

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 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 193 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's twisted brand of avant-garde metaphysical vaudeville metal is intriguingly presented on Of Natural History, which the band have described as a concept album about a debate between the philosophy of the Futurist and the ideas of the Unabomber. How the repeated chant of "Babydoctooooooooor" or the high church celebration of Satan in A Hymn to the Morning Star fits into all that, I have no idea, but either way the band create a compelling musical territory which maintains an adept balance between keeping things experimental and ensuring the music is still satisfying to listen to, even if it does drag a little towards the end.

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 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 193 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DisgruntledPorcupine

4 stars Greetings ladies and gents! Step right up to the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum! Looking for lush, gorgeous melodies? Looking for blissful, peaceful, melodic music? Looking for a nice, easy to like sort of prog? Well we're going to have to advise you to visit a different museum!

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum isn't about melodies. They're very much about using noise and dynamics to their advantage. Now this may seem like a horrible thing to some, but you really have to listen to the band to understand where they go with their music. First of all, many of their instruments they invented themselves. These aren't beautiful melodic instruments. Most of these instruments are specifically designed to make noise, and lots of it. Now enough about the band themselves, let's get to the album.

The album overall, while being a very acquired taste, is a satisfying and very interesting listen. The quiet parts are by no means beautiful (except in perhaps the opener), but they contribute to setting us up for the noise to come. It might seem like a repetitive strategy, but it pays off. The album also flows effectively, and has a sort of primitive feel to it often, which works with the bands style greatly.

There are some weaker songs, however. The opener, while pretty, is kind of cheesy. The Creature features disgusting but effective lyrics, but overall isn't that great. Babydoctor has some really great moments, but as a whole drags on.

Aside from the weaker tracks, this album is great. Most definitely not for everyone, but if you are really open to crazy avant-garde metal, this album should be satisfying. 4 stars.

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 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 193 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

3 stars How do you capitalise on a unique, eclectic approach to music? Sleepytime Gorilla Museum attempt (and confirm) their proud opening statement of GOaC here on OF NATURAL HISTORY where they keep most of the eccentricities, controversies and loudnesses in tact whilst branching their sound out a bit. The end result is an album that, compared to the SGM debut, has a greater sense of exploration and musicality, but drops in quality.

I'll admit being too drunk off the debut, particularly since it was the first SGM album I had heard, and it blew me away with its strangeness yet cohesion. So, knowing what to expect ruins the fun of checking out ONH for the first time, considering that the loud, metal-esque bouts, unusual vocal approaches, and eclecticness are still here. Sometimes, I feel like making comparisons to the debut album; here, ''Babydoctor'' is the big epic of the piece, and I feel that the piece was created to be OHN's ''Sleepytime''. ''Sleepytime'' is one of the best climbing, suspenseful pieces ever crafted; ''Babydoctor'' has some building to it, but it mostly floats on a couple of ideas, and runs a bit too long to outdo its predecessor.

Vocally, the band is strange, but Nils's vocal moments have their charms. Most of his performances are pretty good, but on the opening statement and the closing ''Cockroach'', he overdoes the emotion to the point where you think it's a joke (reminds me of Adam West in the 1960's Batman series; his acting is so overly-serious that it makes for accidental comedy). There are other vocal moments that are downright questionable from the geeky tone during ''The Creature'' to Carla's squirm-setting performance on ''Bring Back the Apocalypse''.

Musically, the quality of the album can get inconsistent; overdone on some parts of the album, quite nice on others. ''The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity'' (kind of goth/death/theatre metal) and ''The Freedom Club'' (a great example of the band being both chaotic and sombre in one song and transitioning effectively between them) are the best songs going for OHN that I haven't mentioned yet. Some transitory pieces like ''The 17-Year Cicada'' and ''What Shall We Do Without Us?'' serve great purposes, and for some time, ''Bring Back the Apocalypse'' is a cool instrumental piece (doesn't quite match ''Ambugaton'' from the debut). Like the vocal performances, the opening and closing pieces (that ''Hidden Track'' doesn't count) are overdone, ''The Creature'' fails to do anything meaningful, and I have trouble remembering others like ''Gunday's Child''.

It's weird, it's creepy, it's bombastic, it's...it's...Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. One of the most ''out-there'' albums out there, those with an open mind for music and some taste for heavy or death metal are encouraged to check this out. I feel that SGM established their sound on GOaC, and OHN is somewhat of a perpetuation of that album. It'll make your head spin no matter your opinion of the album.

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 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 193 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Earendil

5 stars The thrill of listening to this music goes beyond a primal rush of adrenaline or even a chilling sense of uneasiness. The emotion is a more complex one that rarely sees the light of day. It is an understanding, a twisted beauty that dares the listener to defy his cultural conditioning and escape for a moment from the accepted standards of society. It's so thrilling because it temporarily breaks the illusion of order and uses the guise of insanity to see society in a truer light. Many people are unable or unwilling to restore sight to themselves, but SGM's music offers the willing a powerful tool to do so.

"Morning will come for you at last No matter how far into night you have strayed"

Dismantling the unspoken requirements for "normal" interaction often requires violent measures. Though the rage may be painful at the time, it can achieve a measure of clarity. It isn't selfish or irrational anger, but calculated retaliation against society's constrictions. It certainly is possible to reject societal standards without the anger, but sometimes anger is necessary.

Through the apparent chaos of this music lies a contentedness that is only visible through unobscured vision.

Holy sh*t, this album....

Rating:10/10

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