Hearing about bands that defy categorization is like hearing about politicians who have hopes, dreams and ideas. In truth, it's probably just a jam band that mixes three genres (hard bop, African rhythms, Cuban "flavors") or a songwriter with a zany electric sideman. But no matter your familiarity with heavy metal, twentieth-century experimental composition or progressive rock, Oakland's Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
is one of the few bands working right now that, at the very least, defies easy
categorization. Combining some of the most interesting musicians in America (Carla Kilhstedt of Tin Hat Trio, Nils Frykdahl of Faun Fables) with Dan Rathbun's intriguing homemade instruments and a back story incorporating manics, Dadaism, anti-humanism, futurism and fires, SGM is at once challenging, captivating and maddening. Its latest, In Glorious Times
, is a little less metal and, at times, surprisingly playful, mixing broken funk, sinister choirs and industrial rhythms.