This Bay Area avant-garde collective is a splendid and horrifying chimera, stitched together from pieces of animals that would probably eat each other in the wild. Violinist Carla Kihlstedt is best known for her work in the elegant Tin Hat Trio, and guitarist Nils Frykdahl plays with underground folkie Dawn McCarthy in Faun Fables, but Frykdahl and bassist Dan Rathbun were also part of the deranged prog troupe Idiot Flesh, and all three contributed to the Balkan klezmer-punk version of Charming Hostess. Current drummer Matthias Bossi, the band's third, has played with Skeleton Key, and percussionist Michael Mellender cofounded the Immersion Composition Society, whose members regularly hole up alone to record for 24 hours, then meet to share their songs--his instruments of choice in that endeavor have included pan lids, theremin, slide autoharp, and "inward screaming." Mellender replaces founding member Moe! Staiano, and though Staiano has loaned several of his homemade instruments to the band's theatrical road show--including one fashioned from a fast-food deep-fryer tray--he's unfortunately kept the beautiful chimelike marimba he built from gas-cylinder pressure caps. The three years between SGM's full-length debut, Grand Opening and Closing, and 2004's Sleepytime Gorilla Museum of Natural History (Web of Mimicry) have changed more than the lineup, though: it sounds as if the band has grown new claws, new hooves, new fins, and more than a few new heads. Despite SGM's gleeful cannibalism of everything from white gospel to nursery rhymes to industrial funk, each song creates an internally consistent sound world--whether satanic sailor bar, futuristic carpentry studio, or A.I.-style robot gladiator pit--and those worlds operate according to the same sort of carefully balanced dream logic that's at the heart of all true surrealist art. Cheer-Accident plays second and Stag Party opens. Wed 6/15, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $10, 18+.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Scott Irvine.