Sleepytime_gorilla_museum Of_the_last_human_beingmd

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - of the Last Human Being


One of the most innovative bands on all of the planets of our milky way is back after 17 years and they show how a proper comeback should be done. Do not in any way compromise your art but look for the elements that defined your sound, try to keep the most important ones and add new elements that are challenging to your audience but never pushing them away. Welcome back Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and thanks for bringing us of the Last Human Being!

These bunch of misfits (please read as mis-fits) is back and one will be hard pressed to understand all the elements they melt into golden songs and then throw at us, because even after several spins (in my case 12 since the release) there is just way too much in these 13 songs and 65 minutes. Thus please do not expect a detailed review of all the things you can hear here.

There is something about this group of multi-instrumentalists that is channeling its inner Vaudeville devils, some Prog hydras, several Core maniacs and a lot of clever vocal medusae. The core quintet shares their knowledge of the John Zorn’s, the Mr Bungle’s and the Heilung’s as well as loads of details about classical composers like Händel or Purcell. Let’s have a look at some of the things they provide us with:

Vocally you get everything from Patton-esque parts with ”The Gift” probably being the most obvious one; nonetheless they also love to stack many clean vocals layers above each other as in ”We Must Know More”. Of course we also get the wonderful melancholic female vocals which might be inspired by Björk – just listen to the phrasing on ”Silverfish”. The sometimes near-competitive choirs are so energetic that one cannot but admire the drive with which they are delivered – ”S.P.Q.R.” is such an energy booster!

Musically there are surely limits to the vast soundscapes, which seem to tumble and cascade over each other and simultaneously seem to drift away from its elements. Highly skilled musicians all of them are, so a mixture of ritualistic drumming with a noisey feedback loop and some beautiful violin parts garnishing all of it are just one thing. An element that definitely stands out and yet is of collective significance is the percussion elements, not the drums themselves, but all the other “little” things, notice the importance of the chimes on this record. They are part of what I would call the pointy character of many soundscapes – unlike angular and elongated parts that you often find with the guitars and bass on this record – they are not wake-up calls but small reminders that life is more than plans, it is also often the chaotic and unforeseeable element that gives meaning to our life. Seen from a musical point of view, these elements are surely closer to Free Jazz than one might imagine.

Important should also be the way they sometimes simply switch between instruments which then play the same thing as another element before – sometimes the guitar is playing a part that is so frantic that calling is quick is like calling Roadrunner a snail. And then during the second half of the track the same part seems to be played on a violin, so that the sound is changed but the purpose within the track remains the same.

Interestingly there is not one track on the record which seems to be the same as its predecessors or successors, yeah, the band is able to easily keep all the different things together because of two things: “Anything goes” as the ratio maxima and the vocals even though these are also pretty diverse as aforementioned. This feat is maybe the most amazing as it is the core of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – they never shied away from challenging parts, songs or albums. They still don’t and yet their art never becomes overtly artsy. It’s always giving you food for thought and providing you with a cornucopia of minute details that will take many years to understand.

Damn, how can a band hibernate so long and come back so strong? Several other bands have got to do that (yes, Tool, yes Guns N Roses, looking at you there!) - maybe it’s the collective that is the key, these people here are not in it only for themselves, their art is always directed at the audience, brings everyone in, holds us witness (not hostage!) to their experiments on record and on stage and gives the listeners so much to discover, that maybe it needed 17 years. I want to end this review with a bit of a smirking reflective joke picking up the line ”After years of service and distinction / the old grey heron hobbles towards extinction” (from ”Old Grey Heron”) - I just hope it’s not gonna be “so much time of waiting and of thinking / let alone of finishing in dust”. Comeback of the decade!