King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard | photo by Jamie Wdziekonski | courtesy of the artist
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s K.G. marries non-Western harmonies and psychedelic rock
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is a mouthful of a name, but it somehow feels… right. Maybe it’s the internal rhyme, or the oddly fantastical themes it references, or something totally different. Either way, it suits the band perfectly.
The Melbourne-based six (formerly seven)-piece have made a name for themselves by creating theatrical, grandiose albums with dense instrumentation and structure, referencing lo-fi garage rock, intricate prog rock, and trippy pschyedelia. Their latest album, K.G., feels like an amalgamation of all of their past work, using 2017’s Flying Microtonal Bananaas a primary reference point.
KG is King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s second project of 2020, following September’s Demos Vol. 1 + Vol. 2, which aptly contained over two dozen demo tracks from albums released throughout the band’s life. The band has become startlingly prolific: they’ve released at least two albums almost every year since their debut, 2012’s 12 Bar Bruise, and in 2017 they released a total of five studio albums, all featuring new recorded music.
Their latest album is chock full of inventive harmonies that move past the limitations of the Western 12-tone scale. This isn’t totally new ground for King Gizzard, as Flying Microtonal Banana was made with the explicit purpose of experimenting with quarter tones and other microtonal tuning. However, on K.G., the microtones feel more referential to non-Western folk music than experimenting for the sake of doing something cool. Songs like “Ontology” most explicitly carry this implication, where its harmonic structure is based in Turkish Anatolian rock.
“Intrasport” is another clear highlight from the 10-track record, with syncopated beats creating a vaguely funky soundscape. The guitar riff that dominates the track is incredibly catchy, and builds throughout the entire track. “Honey” takes the intensity down a notch, and centers around a lowkey vocal melody and stunning bassline. “Straws In The Wind” is the most experimental track on the record, with bleak lyrics that pan intensely around the mix. “Straws in the wind / Is it all ending?” lead vocalist Stu Mackenzie asks.
Because it retreads ground covered in past records, K.G. may not be the most experimental or innovative King Gizzard album, who have more or less morphed their sound across most of their releases. However, its explicit exploration into folk music is utterly fascinating, and this may be one of the band’s best records to date. King Gizzard has once again proven that, despite being 16 albums into their career, they’ve still got brilliant things to say.
Check out King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s K.G. below and order it on Bandcamp here.