Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, after 13 long years in the wilderness, are back with an out there experience almost unexplainable to anyone. ‘…Of The Last Human Being’ is like the under our nose, mystical and magical woods finally deciding to swallow the rest of the world whole.

Opening with “Salamander In Two Worlds”, the vocals are haunting and vaudevillian. Talk of lizard creatures over a swaying flute, chime and bing-bong backdrop, the intro grabs your attention as being something a tad peculiar. The familiar discordance is here as with any Sleepytime record too. If you’re a fan of Black Midi you’d probably like this one. It’s dramatic, vivid and unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Oxymorons aside, it really does rock when I discover a band or artist whose sound is like no one or nothing else. It’s astonishing to me how bands like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum aren’t the ones being blasted on every car radio. Instead we’ve gotta listen to amazingly dull, cookie cutter pop and dance music shat out again and again by frankly, not very imaginative or helpful people. I understand there’s a sense of arrogance in that statement, who am I to tell you who’s intelligent, what’s good and what’s not. Well, I think the world would be alot better if the majority of average Joes were listening to fiddles, violins and hypnotic, almost mediaeval drumming mixed with screams of not going to bed at a reasonable hour (“Sleep Is Wrong” shout out there, the heaviest track I’ve ever heard).

This band really makes you think, what about, who knows. In the same way Charlie Looker’s project Extra Life makes me think about a distant past and how to try and pinpoint when and where it went wrong, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum gives me a sense of belonging. A community of music listeners looking for something more.

“El Evil” does remind me of Mr. Bungle, another band and vibe I absolutely love. Music that truly represents the scattered musings and thoughts of a real person. Mike Patton could easily slip into the Sleepytime roster, so in that respect, there is an apparent influence there you can pinpoint. “The Gift” also represents this demented sound with angular guitar playing and demonic singing like the devil is whispering in your ear. I can’t believe I’m about to mention these again, but Cardiacs can be heard all over this. A bit more cardigan and sandals than white fluffy pimp jacket (if you know you know) but nevertheless, it certainly still makes me jibber and twitch.

“S.P.Q.R.” is another example of a sound that is unique and daring. A bouncy low end noise ripples all over this one, making it feel like a dizzying descent down a psychedelic slide. Not quite “smoke a spliff in a time machine”, but more cartoonish and less pretentious. The drums in particular remind me of Battles man John Stainer; always a good thing.

The 13 track album includes a few interludes which despite their short nature also provide an interesting listen. I am honestly finding it really difficult to describe their mentalist sound without sounding like a mad man myself, so forgive me for being slightly whimsical in this “review”.

“Hush, Hush” has the playing of string instruments akin to most Godspeed tracks, haunting and incessant. All of a sudden it turns on its head with more of an electric feel and ethereal cascading vocals, only to change again into a groovy Afghan Whigs like refrain. It’s the melding of different sounds and styles which sets Sleepytime apart from everyone else, they make it seem so effortless. Other favourites here include “Silverfish” and “We Must Know More” which again, offer a haunted listening experience. The wide range of instruments used on this record is fantastic and I always think it’s good to get out of the listening lane of solely guitar based groups. The use of more traditional folk instruments in ensembles like Sleepytime has really made me appreciate how you don’t need that “rock n roll” aesthetic to really actually, rock the fuck out.

Overall, I’d say this record is a triumphant return of one of the most interesting bands I’ve ever heard. You should also hear them. Embrace the noise and let the bells ring!

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: …of the Last Human Being – Out 23rd February 2024 (Avant Night)

Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC