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Free Salamander Exhibit — Undestroyed
(Web of Mimicry WOM051, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-08-15

Undestroyed Cover art

Long-time readers will be aware that Sleepytime Gorilla Museum was the object of near cult-like adoration around the pages of Exposé, and we weren’t alone on that ledge. Their blend of extreme metal with pretty much anything else under the sun and a freaky artistic sensibility found lots of friends among fans of fringy music. Free Salamander Exhibit is the direct descendant of that band, with all four members having at some time or another played with SGM; Nils Frykdahl (guitar, flute, vocals), Dan Rathbun (bass, vocals, constructed instruments), David Shamrock (drums), and Michael Mellender (guitar, brass, vocals) are all alumni, though I’m pretty sure they were never all in the band at the same time. Drew Wheeler (guitar, theremin, vocals) also appears on this album. Stylistically, it’s very much a continuation of the avant-metal pioneered by SGM, with only Carla Kihlstedt’s violin and voice missing from the arrangements. This is music full of unexpected twists and turns — so much so that listeners just have to strap in and enjoy the ride. Crazy new visions lie around every corner, making Undestroyed a kind of sonic thrill ride, like a surreal attraction at a Bizarro World Disneyland designed by a committee consisting of Salvador Dalí, Mike Patton, Frank Zappa, Samuel Beckett, Erik Satie, John Kane, and a rotating cast of extra collaborators. To my ears, the fact that it sounds more or less like another Sleepytime album is no detraction at all. A style this scattered sonically is almost an anti-style, so producing another entry is not repetition. Listeners who hated the drastic mood-shifts of SGM will find no comfort here. This Theater of the Absurd is open for business, and the result is a treat for adventurous explorers.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Free Salamander Exhibit

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Premier of New Echo Us Video

From the press release:

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.

“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.

“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)

As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.



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