If you want to feel like an underachiever, look no further than Melbourne’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Since their inception, the Melbourne psych–stoner-rock-kitchen-sink collective has managed to put out an astounding amount of music. They’ve averaged about two albums a year for as far back as I can remember, and that’s aside from the EPs and god knows what else they’ve been doing. Prodigious is one word for it, mad is another. I am definitely guilty of seeing these guys play, getting really into them and then suffering from an incredible feeling of being overwhelmed when they just kept putting stuff out. As such, the band dipped off my radar for a while, but luckily our local broadcaster picked their latest album up, because it really needs to be heard.
The gimmick bands pull on you about making an album that ‘flows from start to finish is one I’ve been hearing for years. Most of the time, it’s a theme or a motif thing rather than an actual sequencing or musical one. I was chatting with a friend of mine about albums that actually made good on this promise – Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On? certainly stands out – where the idea of having ‘tracks’ seems superfluous. King Gizzard’s Nonagon Infinity is up there; thematically, rhythmically and tonally, it rolls through the first explosive note and I often found myself looking down to make sure I wasn’t on the 16th minute of the same song. And it’s damn good.
While they started out performing trippy psych numbers that occasionally came through with a punch, it seems the band have refined their sound significantly, which is what you’d hope after having released around 100 songs and toured the shit out of the country. ‘Big Fig Wasp’ is the one I chose because it’s propulsive. It sits in that middle ground between the melodic writing of a band like Led Zeppelin in their III phase with the guts of Queens Of The Stone Age when they did Rated R. If you have heard either of those records you know what I’m talking about; fearless, fierce riffs that chug along at the bottom of the fretboard but pull themselves out for continual flashes of brilliance.
That King Gizzard set themselves up at such a cracking pace works to their advantage. Having arrested your attention on the BPM front, they’re free to pull out all the tricks that make them so interesting, from their deviations into 7/8 time to the amazing layers of guitar and harmonica. Even the cloistered early ’70s punk production can’t take away from the fact there’s something really special here. The sections just pile up on top of each other, different grooves, strange new riffs, augmentation, diminution. You could write a thesis on this thin, and the best part is it was created by a band who have probably worked it all out themselves.
It’s been a while since Australian rock has felt this loose but also this impressive. I won’t be missing their next record.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – ‘Big Fig Wasp’