Release Date: Feb 24, 2017
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Let it never be said that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard don't work hard. 'Flying Microtonal Banana' is the Aussie psych-garage warlocks' eighth album in five years - and kicks off the series of five records they plan on releasing in 2017. The rest of us are exhausted just thinking about it. With several tracks clocking in at over seven minutes long 'Flying Microtonal Banana' can be dense in places, but is instrumentally rich and suitably psychedelic.
With a swirling whirl of wind, Flying Microtonal Banana begins -- and what an intriguing place it'll take you to. As with every other release by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard -- think last year's looping record Nonagon Infinity or 2015's Quarters!, composed of four songs, each 10 minutes and 10 seconds long -- this one comes with a unique concept; FMB is, as the title suggests, the band having a go at microtonal tuning. Quick explanation: Instead of the standard 12 notes per octave, FMB was played with 24 notes per octave, meaning an extra note in-between what our Western ears are accustomed to hearing.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard spent their early years honing their tripped-out psychedelic pop sound, then after proving themselves masters of the form with the 2014 album I'm in Your Mind Fuzz, decided that every release they did would have some kind of thematic hook or experiment driving its creation and execution. Paper Mâché Dream Balloon was all done on acoustic instruments; Quarters consisted of four ten-minute songs; and the amazing prog-psych epic Nonagon Infinity was touted as the world's first continuously looping album. A band less dedicated to being weird would have packed it in at this point and gone back to cranking out blown-out psych rockers, but these guys are way too dedicated for that.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard fandom goes like this: 1. Pride: The listener feels as if they've heard this music already from bands like Thee Oh Sees and Roky Erikson, and shrugs them off. 2. Respect: As they start to realize how frequently they have a record in the new release pile, listener begins to appreciate how much material the band puts out.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are a testament to the liberating power of giving yourself restrictions. Whether making every song on a record the exact same length (2015's Quarters!), or constructing an entire album to connect into an infinite loop (last year's Nonagon Infinity), the Aussie armada thrive on the symbiotic relationship between governing principles and disorder. The result is psychedelic rock that plays like a pinball game--the action may be confined to an enclosed playing field, but it's always moving, ping-ponging in unexpected directions and encouraging synapse overload.
Snake charming is a dying art in India. It was an art form based mostly on deceit in the first place—snakes can't even hear, they only feel vibrations—but nevertheless, the practice has always been decidedly linked to the mystical and the divine. The earliest charmers were likely also holy men and healers and their relationship to their animals, that intimate balance of fear and respect mirrored depictions of the gods who were also connected to nature and the world in a way that the common person simply wasn't.
Time to meet your end. So here's another King Gizzard album. It's been less than twelve months since their last, Nonagon Infinity, which, whilst consolidating Gizz's fuzz and nostalgics around focused and highly melodic songwriting, did little else to differentiate itself stylistically from the abundance of other King Gizzard albums available. The repetitive rhythms, the fuzzy production values, and the barely-there occultist themes that prove necessary for any garage rock revivalist: surely well done, but familiar all the same.
Psychedelic indie rock outfit King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have already released eight records since their 2012 debut. Last year's Nonagon Infinity was an introduction for many to their infectious sound; pounding rhythm guitars and hyper-surreal lyrics and imagery. They're not afraid of resorting to gimmicks, either. Nonagon Infinity, for instance, effectively tackled its cerebral themes by revisiting hypnotic riffs and melodies in a theoretical infinite loop.
T hey may look like a bunch of dope-smoking slackers, but King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are Australia's hardest-working band. The first of five albums scheduled for this year - and their ninth since 2012's debut - this is as trippy as the title intimates, its head-spinning acid rock reinforced by traces of 60s-style raga pop played at the pace of punk. It's potent and audacious, if a little too far out, though Sleep Drifter shows they can write a melody, and Billabong Valley would make a fine addition to the soundtrack of a film about the Manson family.
T he first of five albums the Melbourne outfit are set to release in 2017 (frontman Stu Mackenzie is "no good at chilling"), Flying Microtonal Banana contains nine tracks of chugging psychedelic garage interspersed with classic riffage, including the kind of 60s melodies that sound almost Tudor. King Gizzard have always been prolific - they've averaged two albums a year since their 2010 inception - but that's not to say their dense and complex work isn't painstakingly crafted. The "microtonal" of the title refers to the group's customised guitars, which have added frets that double the amount of playable notes.
King Gizzard, with a name that clearly started out as a joke, have become a part of the increasingly creative rock scene coming out of Australia with Tame Impala and Pond. Perhaps they are the fulfillment of what the Vines obviously never became, perhaps something new. Either way, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is one of the coolest indie bands out at the moment as well as one of the best.