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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM - Of Natural History cover
4.18 | 38 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 2004


1. A Hymn to the Morning Star (5:40)
2. The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion (6:01)
3. Phthisis (3:44)
4. Bring Back the Apocalypse (4:10)
5. FC: The Freedom Club (10:48)
6. Gunday's Child (6:56)
7. The 17-Year Cicada (3:41)
8. The Creature (6:00)
9. What Shall We Do Without Us? (2:38)
10. Babydoctor (13:59)
11. Cockroach (2:12)
12. [untitled] (5:56)

Total Time: 71:50


- Carla Kihlstedt / Violins, Percussion Guitar, Autoharp, Organ, Voice
- Dan Rathbun / Bass, Log, Roach, Trombone, Lute, Voice
- Frank Grau / Drums, Melodica
- Matthias Bossi (tracks 3, 5, & 6) / Drums, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Voice
- Moe! Staiano / Metal, Wood, Bowed Spatula, Glockenspiel, Spring, Paper
- Nils Frykdahl / Guitars, Flutes, Voice

About this release

Mimicry records

Thanks to triceratopsoil, xaxaar for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History

Definitely one of the better avant-garde albums I have heard. The amount of tension this band creates with instrumentation is pretty unreal; it helps settle a truly dark mood. And as some people think the lyrics sound forced, I actually enjoy them quite a lot.

The lyrics tend to have a deeper meaning to them. Take for example "The Creature." This song has a blatantly obvious reference to politics, I think. But even if it is obvious, it does not take away anything from the song. I usually do like when symbolism is not up for interpretation for I see, and I quote the great Devin Townsend, "People going up their own ass." Besides the political themes that travel through the album, the lyrics also help create that atmosphere I like so much. Not only the lyrics, but just the vocals themselves, too. "A Hymn To The Morning Star" shows the range they have and it just makes the album feel that much more unique. "Phthisis" also shows off the talents of Carla as her voice definitely fits the album perfectly. There is definitely a group of talented singers doing the vocals for this album as they know what they're doing.

The band uses their fair share of wacky time signatures, but the way they use them has been so different than what I've heard a good way! Usually when I hear an odd time signature it's just to add some complexity in the music. Sure, I guess you could say that they're doing this too, but what I love about the way they use the time signatures is the tension it builds. Like in "Phthisis," when they skip a beat, for some reason these small details make the album that much more solid for me. It helps create the atmosphere they were looking for, no doubt. Also another thing to take note on is that they don't sound forced. I see bands adding time signatures just for the sake of being complicated and those are usually the type of bands I try to avoid. It just doesn't sound good when you try and make some wacky polyrhythm, it just should come naturally in the unfolding of the music.

I am also quite a big fan of the instrumentation of the album. The use of instruments like the glockenspiel and the xylophone help to that tense atmosphere I keep going back to as it gives a sense of atmosphere. The array of percussion instruments is also a nice touch and is certainly welcomed in the album. As, of course, there are guitars, bass, and drums, they don't take as big of a role as other metal bands. As of course these instruments are used often, they just feel like they compliment the rest of the band, not so much that they ARE the band (as most metal is).

Overall, I really have nothing bad to say about the album; I love everything about it. I have heard complaints that there is too much filler and ambience, but for me that helps the tone further. Plus, the album is fairly lengthy, I think they have some leg-room to just create some haunting aura. If it was a Cynic album, then maybe I would be a bit more concerned they were filling the album with pure ambience. My personal favorites are "The Creature" and "The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion," even though I don't think there is one song that I would consider to be a disappointment. All of them are good in their own unique way and help catapult this album to a 4 star rating from me.
A ridiculous, crazy piece of work, Of Natural History has possibly the most unique and distinct pieces of music I've ever heard on one album. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum use their signature plethora of homemade instruments to great effect, there are all sorts of slinky, booming or just plain distorted instruments, most of them seeming to be percussion or string based, and they all sound absolutely perfect in conjunction with the music. The lyrics are simultaenously silly (BAY-BEEEE DOCTORRRRR!) and serious, carrying powerful messages in amongst the amusing wordplay.

A wonderfully eclectic album, Of Natural History is perhaps more avant-prog than metal but heavy enough to headbang along to.
Phonebook Eater

"Of Natural History" sounds like it was written by monsters.

Wow, what an album. It is classified as Avant Prog only because it's "Weird", but really it's unclassifiable. It is so diverse from all the rest of today's music that it really makes you believe that this band is formed by aliens. I picked up this album, together with "In Glorious Times", because I thought I needed to learn something more about RIO. Indeed, "Of Natural History" has taught me quite a lot.

The style is very unique, like I said: avant garde united with metal ,even some growls( they're quite frequent in the album) so it's probably not a really accessible album. We also find some jazz, classical, and a genre that really isn't definable. We also find some sounds and noises, that gives more impact to the album.

Some songs are good, some great, some weirder, some less. The first part of the album is very original, but more melodic and less creepy than the second part. In fact, in this part there is even more experimentation, and the songs are all much more bizarre and puzzling. Especially "BabyDoctor", fourteen minutes of some of the finest avant garde around today. Let's not forget, in the first part, "Phthisis", a very interesting song, so full of emotion that it blows my mind. "FC" is another avant garde masterpiece, full of excellent and unforgettable moments.

I mut say I initially didn't like this album, because I considered it a little too absurd and out of control; plus, I hated the growl parts (I usually like black or death metal), and my favorite moments were a few.

This album, after a while, grew up on me. If you're a RIO or an Avant-Garde Metal fan, consumer, you will for sure appreciate this piece of music.

Members reviews

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....

From the first few second of strange and disturbing sound coming from my speakers when I plopped this album in my stereo, I knew I had come across something wonderful.

"Of Natural History" was my first taste of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and ever since I have seen them perform live at every opportunity. There are very few records that truly deserve the tagline "like nothing you've ever heard before," but this is surely one of them. Oh sure, there's some Art Bears and Mr. Bungle in there, but the overall effect is totally unique.

The album opens with Nils Frykdahl's impressive baritone intoning "A Hymn to the Morning Star," interspersed by choruses of creepy falsettos. The tracks immediately gives the album an air of foreboding, which is paid off handsomely in the stunning "The Donkey Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion," a furious avant-metal piece in (mostly) 5/4. In fact, the bands inability to stay in one time signature is heard throughout the album, and provides a restless and surreal forward motion.

The other shining star besides Nils is Carla Khilstedt, an incredible singer and violinist. Her chief composition and showcase of her talents is "Phthisis," a powerful number with a steadily rising melody that you think wlll never top out.

The other highlights on the album are too numerous to list, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hilarious capper "Cockroach." It must be heard to be believed, and shows that the band does in fact have a sense of humor. "Of Natural History" has quickly become one of my favorite albums by ANY band, and it is a huge improvement upon their debut.

Ratings only

  • tapfret
  • Necrotica
  • ElGordoPopochas
  • Bosh66
  • kx1992
  • Immortalis
  • Nightfly
  • Amplifier Worship
  • 100423
  • DreamInSong
  • Wilytank
  • trickster B
  • luanpedi
  • barchios
  • Zargus
  • Paperbag
  • Urs Blank
  • SaltyJon
  • Tlön
  • spizzetti
  • Fernandi
  • abdulbashur
  • sauromat
  • Sleeper
  • A Person
  • JRuined
  • [email protected]
  • justametalfan
  • Negoba
  • zaum
  • cold103

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