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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Sleepytime Gorilla Museum Of Natural History

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Artist: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Album: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum Of Natural History

Label: Web of Mimicry

Review date: Oct. 25, 2004

It makes sense that Sleepytime Gorilla Museum has landed at Web of Mimicry. Like labelmates Secret Chiefs 3, SGM has long championed a hybrid of wildly complex distorto-rock and improvisational breaks, and on make-shift instruments no less.

Of Natural History, the band's third full-length, demonstrates both maturity and sublimation. The long and often meandering improv breaks of earlier efforts have disappeared; instead, SGM delivers something approaching a rock oratorio. Its lyrics, loosely based on a mixture of religious imagery and post-industrial anxiety, are mirrored by the music, which reflects this new seriousness with thicker orchestration, bursts of musique concrete and the juxtaposition of natural sounds with a new interest in all things electro-acoustic.

The group's use of conventional song structure has also expanded. "A Hymn to the Morning Star" blends the pastoral and the demonic by contrasting lush symphonic textures with sinewy passages of stealth-rock, prefiguring the all-out assault of "The Donkey-headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion." Nils Frykdahl and Carla Kihlstedt's vocal delivery matches each musical development, ranging from full-throated sermonizing to slinky devilish whispers. Only on the final track, a monologue to a cockroach, does the whimsical humor of former days show itself.

The album's tendencies toward overabundance and pretentiousness hardly diminish the band's accomplishments. This is the Museum's most coherent statement to date.

By Marc Medwin

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