Artist: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Microtonal
Released: 20 November 2020
KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD
You taste like honey, all warm and funny
Kinder than a candy, effervescent shandy
Days are ever sweeter when I wake up near ya
The world we're in is broken and you're the magic potion
It feels like it’s been forever since we heard a King Gizz album. It’s hardly even been a year since their thrash metal album ‘Infest the Rat’s Nest’, but if a 6 month period goes by without hearing anything from the Melbourne band, things feel off. They famously dropped five albums in 2017, as well as another two in 2019, ranging from the aforementioned thrash metal, to sweet, sweet jazz. And although we got a great live album in the form of ‘Chunky Shrapnel’ this year, many fans were eagerly awaiting new material from the group. And new material has finally arrived, but surprisingly King Gizz haven’t decided to try and completely reinvent their entire identity this time around, like they’ve done seemingly album after album since they first started.
Instead, the group have returned to the middle eastern inspired microtonal sounds of their 2017 record, ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’, which as some fans had noticed, was labelled in fine print as ‘Volume 1’ of a series in microtonal experimentation. And here with ‘K.G.’, we finally have the second instalment. But despite this feeling like the first re-tread of ground for the band in a while, it’s an incredibly solid album that holds up really well mostly due to its incredible sense of cohesiveness.
In fact, while this may not be one of the band’s strongest pieces of work, it is certainly one of their best flowing, with a similar structure to ‘Nonagon Infinity’ in that every track leads directly into the next. This creates an experience that works extremely well as a whole record, even if some tracks are lacking in the quality of some of the band’s bigger singles. And songs that don’t necessarily stand out on their own, such as ‘Some of Us’, which was a really underwhelming single, make so much more sense in the context of the rest of ‘K.G.’. Not just because they lead from one song and into another, but they provide a really great atmosphere that makes the album feel very unified.
This is immediately evident in the very first two tracks, ‘K.G.L.W’ and ‘Automation’. Both of which are very different songs; the former being a very traditionally middle-eastern sounding acoustic piece, and the latter being a more standard-gizz electric guitar driven psych-rock track. But the microtonal instrumentation gives the music an intriguing quality that runs throughout both of the tracks, as well as the rest of K.G., and really helps make this album such an excellently flowing experience. This was also done on ‘Microtonal Banana’, but I think its achieved to a greater effect here, and as I mentioned before is almost more in the vein of ‘Nonagon Infinity’ with its level of coherence. And while there’s nothing on here quite as iconic as ‘Banana’s ‘Rattlesnake’, ‘K.G.’s great flow really holds the album together and makes up for what it lacks in immediate standout moments.
Straws in the wind, is it all ending?
Straws in the wind, is it all ending?
Like a slumber and we've all just awoken
I can see the Beelzebub Cheshire grin
That isn’t to say that there aren’t any great tracks on here. In fact, the album’s lead single ‘Honey’ is one of the most gorgeous songs the band has ever made, and immediately stood out upon release. And it works even better when listened to with the rest of the album. As well as this, ‘Intrasport’ is a weird and wonderful microtonal dance track that sounds taken directly out of a bustling bazaar. However, not many of the other tracks on ‘K.G.’ are necessarily going to be frequent listens, since although they work well within the record, they’re far from the most memorable music the band has put out. ‘Some of Us’ and ‘Oddlife’ are examples of this. Both songs are decent, but they hardly stand out, and they don’t really do enough within themselves to be a satisfying singular listen. They contribute nicely to the structure of the rest of the album, but they don’t have too much interesting going on themselves. ‘Oddlife’ contains a pretty nice guitar solo towards its end, but by that point the track really hasn’t offered much to make it a unique experience and instead sounds like a ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ B-Side (which it may be for all we know).
But this doesn’t detract from the fact that ‘K.G.’ is a really good time, and quite a pleasant and relaxed listen after the band’s much more full-on previous record. Apart from a handful of tracks that I’ve had on rotation since the album’s release, I don’t see myself revisiting many of the tracks without a full relisten of the record. But it’s a really solid entire experience that I can see myself wanting to come back to because of how nicely it flows. I don’t think this quite lives up to its predecessor ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ in terms of song quality, but it has some really wonderful structural tricks up its sleeve to remedy that. And on top of that, microtonal instrumentation is such an interesting form of music that the band has managed to grasp really well in both volumes of ‘Explorations into Microtonal Tuning’. And that has made for a pretty good album with ‘K.G’ that is often very pleasant on the ears, and an overall really nice listening experience from start to finish. While I prefer hearing the band continue to explore new and eclectic sounds in each record, ‘K.G.’ is a justified return to microtonal music from King Gizzard that remains a solid entry into their discography, even while not being the most memorable.
Perish to my thought
My hand is on the gun
Get to me before
My face splashes in the sky
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 21/12/20