Mike Prete    3-November-2001 Grand Opening And Closing

"What the fuck is this?" might be your first reaction upon hearing Grand Opening and Closing. From rebellious anthems against slumber, inspired pleas to party like it's 1997, to the mottos of 18th century phrenologists, it's all here. But what is it? An aural assault to say the least, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum bombards the ears with fierce angularity and sweet dissonance in their own infectious way. The curators of this museum have strung together an eclectic exhibit featuring a wide array of styles: the crunchy riffs and shouts of "Sleep is Wrong", the thrash metal of "1997", the RIO chamber "Ablutions" or the ambient "Sunflower". While you might have heard all these disparate elements elsewhere, never before have they been combined in the same insanely creative way.

Strange noises abound on the album, and are put to great use on "Powerless", the opening low frequency notes being coaxed out of what I presume to be Rathbun's amplified spring instrument, which is not the only homemade instrument used here. Both the music and the instruments that help to create it show the same desire for innnovation. Almost all of Moe!'s percussion ensemble is made of trash, banged and beaten upon. There's even an amplified circular saw blade in his arsenal.

Some comparisons might be apt here: the dense, metallic edginess of mid-period King Crimson, at times the sparse, song based RIO of the Art Bears (and Carla has a strong voice somewhat reminiscent of Dagmar Krause), and more modern avant/RIO like Thinking Plague. But these are just scratching the surface. This is some of the most inspired material to come out this year - "music that not only pushes boundaries but breaks them down with an axe". Well, maybe more like a roto-tiller.

- Mike Prete [October 2001]

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