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June 2020
Review

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana

Whatever the other four albums this year bring, King Gizzard are off to a flying start.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana
Published: 1:26 pm, February 24, 2017
Whatever the other four albums this year bring, King Gizzard are off to a flying start.

Label: Domino
Released: 24th February 2017
Rating: ★★★★

With nearly as many heads as syllables, Melbourne’s King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are not normally ones to do things by halves. But, following the unplugged whimsy of ‘Paper Mâché Dream Balloon’, and last year’s ‘Nonagon Infinity’, designed to play as an endless loop of bruising heavy psych, they're upping the ante. Eight LPs in six years might be pretty good going so far by anyone else's standards - particularly if you’re My Bloody Valentine - but the seven-piece plan to release five studio albums in 2017. ‘Hard-working band’ might be a tired expression, but it’s rarely more appropriate.

The first of these arrives tagged ‘Explorations into microtonal tuning’, and was conceived around custom-made instruments which double the twelve tones available in Western music. If this sounds like the kind of proggy nonsense you should run a mile from, you’d be missing a treat. From ‘Rattlesnake’ - serpentine guitars coiling around ‘Paranoid’ grind - through ‘Melting’ - a busy, organ-led groove occupying both of the band’s drummers - and the hypnotic, menacing aquatic panic of ‘Open Water’ (“Bells are ringing in my head/I think I’m done/I think I’m dead … the Kraken’s got the best of me this time”), there’s such a sense of fun, not to mention head-nodding acid boogie, that it's anything but inaccessible.

Elsewhere, ‘Doom City’ again raises the spectre of Black Sabbath before opening out into motorik space-rock, and 'Billabong Valley' is a playful Outback Western ("Mad Dog Morgan/he never gave a warning ... shot in the back by morning") with a piercing, mesmeric refrain on the zurna, a Turkish horn whose sound runs through the album as though the rattlesnake broke free from its basket. Whatever the other four bring - early warnings suggest that we can expect a more chilled, jazzy collaboration with California's Mild High Club, along with further trips down the garage-rock superhighway - King Gizzard are off to a flying start. Rob Mesure

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