A French review of our appearance at the 11th Rock in Opposition Festival: “Mais la particularité de FSE est d’avoir patiemment construit un univers théâtral, sonore et un répertoire qui lui sont propres, mêlant instruments rock usuels et d’autres plus singuliers : carillon, dulcimer, guitare « percussive », trompette, theremin, tangularium, waterphone ou encore un – respirez ! – « double-bladed cat sneeze ». Les FSE ont décidément le sens de l’artisanat !” Stephane Fougere, Rythmes Croisés (March 12, 2019)
A playlist of formative musics, and questions answered, July 31, 2018: https://www.freshpotsmusic.com/home/2018/7/31/kool-kats-feat-free-salamander-exhibit
An interview with Carl King, posted June 19, 2018.
“I’m not sure how long the band rehearsed this music, but I have a feeling it’s longer than some bands exist from start to finish. The second I thought I had a grasp of the music, something would change. It’s a nod to Stravinsky and the great composers who compose highly complex phrases.” Anthony Gianotti, The Progressive Aspect (June 12, 2018)
“‘Everybody’s interested in consciousness, right? We’re all conscious… That’s maybe the only thing we can all agree on across the planet.’
The question, then, is what other things are conscious and where that line is drawn — humans? Other animals? Plants? ‘And then, of course, the panpsychists would take it all the way down to rocks and stones and every single atom and molecule in the universe,’ he says, calling consciousness a property of matter.
Frykdahl, clearly, is not shy of heady matters and fundamental questions about the world….” Griffen Swartzell, Colorado Springs Independent (May 30, 2018)
“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…. This Theater of the Absurd is open for business, and the result is a treat for adventurous explorers.” Jon Davis, Exposé Online (Aug 15, 2017)
“I have had this album defiantly glaring at me from the top of the “to do” pile for months, but it has taken me that long to come to terms with a record that is repulsive yet engaging at the same time. I cannot recall struggling with an album as willfully difficult as this since the first time I stumbled across Henry Cow and their In Praise Of Learning album some 40 years ago….Free Salamander Exhibit channel the Cow’s revolutionary zeal and disregard of convention to make a genuinely RIO album for the modern age. Undestroyed is not just in opposition to conventional rock, it rages against everything. I can see a connection with Thinking Plague in that regard, but FSE are if anything even more uncompromising than the Colorado agitators. Undestroyed’s heady spirit of revolution delivers many surprises, including some wicked metal riffing on The Gift, and syncopated voice with trumpet on Time Master, to mention but two moments that induced a smile. Time Master has the feel of a long lost Residents classic.” Roger Trenwith, The Progressive Aspect (May 12, 2017)
“There is something delightfully appropriate and timely in this partial resurgence of underground avant-rock sweethearts Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, a band formed at the turn of the millennia and often classified as RIO. While the stylistic lineage, fustian traits, and the sound of a thousand broken and convoluted vaudevillian miniatures and grotesques is shared between them and their progeny Free Salamander Exhibit, there is a renewed flame of revolt in the Oakland foursome’s debut Undestroyed. This music is dada in the flesh, brought from beyond the brink of foolishness, chronicling the ongoing collapse of the cultured Western world, and mimicking the buffoonery of emerging post-societal idols. Both a reflection and mocking deformation of our civilisation.” Antonio Poscic, The Quietus (Jan 16, 2017)
“Nils Frykdahl of Idiot Flesh and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum fame/infamy, along with many former members of his previous ventures, have formed Free Salamander Exhibit and have finally burst forth, after years of teasing. Their inaugural album is a vicious blend of black metal, progressive metal and art rock, the likes of which has not been seen in the wild since the glorious times of SGM. Tense, challenging, mercurial and above all, unique. 2016’s musical landscape needed this band like air!” Mircea Laslo, Arctic Drones (Dec 22, 2016)
“Four kinds of Dust, including sacred dust–this is not Rock Against Rock, it is lava on ice. Music that melts your brain, steals your cup and butters your nose. These howling roaches, these brilliant antidotes. Their wings and dust blot out the sun and they show you a new kind of light: seven new planetoids. With 13 atmospheres. Did they give you the key, or shine the hidden dark on your face? Nils Frykdahl has always been a truly ambitious bat, and nowhere have his additional lupine aspirations been so appropriately garbed as in the “Oxen of the Sun.” You have never tasted such an ear-snifter with righteous insects: until Now!” Cornelius Boots, 18 December 1:18 pm, 2016, Tail of the Year of the Fire Monkey
“Undestroyed delivers a genre-damning assault of clarity, confusion, tottering riffage and apocalyptic joy to the listener. What is probably most distinguishing is that, Lo and Behold, Free Salamander Exhibit is a band in the truest sense of the word. A very real, well-honed, cared-about and labored-over band that builds upon its ancient and true chemistries with their new ideas. Forgoing any suggestion of cheap imaginary elaborations into digital simulacra, we are rewarded with Free Salamander Exhibit’s preference for their arsenal of imaginative homemade musical instruments (in addition to their guitars, basses, and drums). Though it’s difficult-as-ever to characterize much about this collective with any accuracy, Undestroyed sees them embracing their true art-prog-rock (in opposition) calling as never before. Both initiates and newcomers are better off abandoning all expectation as they step into their new curatorial realm.” Web of Mimicry Records, Web of Mimicry Records (Nov 28, 2016)
“Free Salamander Exhibit, which is basically a punkier, less cabaret iteration of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, featuring most of that band’s lineup. Guitarist Nils Frykdahl, bassist Dan Rathbun, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Mellender emerge onstage adorned in faux fur and war paint, massive wicker baskets affixed to their heads, with antlers and ears protruding from those. Together, they’re a tripartite frontman beast, growling, hollering, and occasionally singing their way through these ragged prog epics that feel like dips into the implied spaces between the songs of King Crimson’s Red. “Angular” doesn’t begin to describe it: the whole thing is positively feral, Frykdahl coming off like a man-beast subsisting on raw flesh. At their best, they represent … crushing sonic totality commingled with weird, far-reaching vision. Thank god art rock’s not dead. If Free Salamander didn’t exist, Kilgore Trout would’ve had to make them up.” Alee Karim, SFWeekly (Mar 03, 2014)
“Every so often I encounter a band that gets my full attention immediately, whose songs get instantly stuck on repeat in my mind’s ear, and in heavy rotation on the car stereo. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum was one such band…. They instantly became an all-time favorite with their artfully progressive and challenging music, full of hooks and emotion. Over the next few years, I saw them live every chance I got…. When they announced that they would be “closing the museum,” I was saddened. I sincerely hoped that the hole left by the disbanding would get filled, somehow. We’ve all seen it happen: our favorite acts lose a one or two key members and try to continue on without, often ending up watered-down or just simply lacking the chemistry that won our hearts. Free Salamander Exhibit, comprised of former Sleepytime members, Nils Frykdahl, Michael Mellender, Dan Rathbun, and David Shamrock are joined by Drew Wheeler, have managed to pick up where the Museum left off.” Mike Stone, CarlKingdom.com (Mar 11, 2014)
“It’s been no secret that Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is my favorite band. When they disbanded, it left me feeling hollow inside. When I heard that former members were creating a new band, it gave me a renewed sense of purpose. Recently, I had the great pleasure of attending the very first show of Free Salamander Exhibit. I was not disappointed. The rhythmic complexity, creative energy, and mesmerizing stage presence that had drawn me to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum were all still present, but also different (in a good way) at the same time.” Kyler Stonerman, progulator.com (Aug 21, 2013)