KING GIZZARD & The LIZARD WIZARD – ” K.G.” (2020)

Posted: November 22, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard return with new album “K.G.”, their sixteenth since forming in 2010. In the wake of a global pandemic, it’s a collection of songs composed and recorded remotely after the six members of the band retreated to their own homes scattered around Melbourne, Australia. “K.G.” is a pure distillation of the King Gizzard sound, one that cherry picks the best aspects of previous albums and contorts them into new shapes via defiantly non-western rock scales. Over a ten-year span spent releasing an album every few weeks (or so it seemed) King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard never repeated themselves, always pushing forward and trying new things whether it was lengthy jazz excursions, gloom-and-doom synth prog, or thundering thrash metal.

That changed some on 2020’s K.G., where the band revisit the approach used on Flying Microtonal Banana, the group’s 2017 album built around the avant-garde sounds of their custom-made guitars and altered instruments. Stuck in their various homes during the global pandemic, the band gravitated toward the unique instruments and built a batch of songs using their non-Western tunings and tones. Unlike that album, though, where that almost felt like a (mostly successful) gimmick, this time the guitars are more fully integrated into the songs. “Automation” and “Some of Us” kick and twist like classic King Gizzard-style psychedelic rockers, the acoustic guitars of “Straws in the Winds” have a snarling bite that matches the evil sneer of the vocals and sentiment of the lyrics, “Oddlife’s” guitar solos are pure prog, and “The Hungry Wolf of Fate” revisits the blown-out metal attack of their most recent studio LP with a nice mix of restraint and explosive power.

Even though much of the record transverses familiar sonic territory, the band still find some room for surprises. The acid house synths percolating behind the wall of guitars on “Minimum Brain Size” are a nice touch; the group work up a sweaty groove on “Ontolgy” and in the process sound something like Talking Heads butting heads with Kid Creole & the Coconuts; and in the album’s only real shocker, they drop some bubbly Madchester grooves on “Intrasport.” The sound is so slinky and giddily elastic, it makes one wonder what a full album of King Gizzard songs made for dancing would be like. Judging from this, and the band’s track record, probably pretty great. Apart from this one song, King Gizzard don’t break much new ground on K.G., and while that in itself might be something of a let down, the result is still quite pleasing. Listening to them tread a little bit of water is still better than listening to the fresh ideas of 99.9 percent of other groups, especially when it’s done with the energy and passion the band exhibit here.

Creating an immersive world in which to transport the listener to another plain, the songs meld into each other through percussive transitions that lead you through their world. Whether it is the stripped back Straws In The Wind, the jutting Ontology, or the pop-infused Intrasport, the band are firing on all cylinders to create a truly special album. Innovation, as ever, is the order of the day and, while the band are relying on the one concept of instrumentation, the variety of rhythms and grooves that they produce is dizzying.

They blend the mellower tracks with those that stomp and growl, songs that implore you to close your eyes and drift on their beauty with those that wrap you in swirling menace. Closing song, The Hungry Wolf Of Fate, distils all that down into one five-minute summary.

Sixteen albums in and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard show no sign of slowing their sonic experimentation and, with this album, again show that they have many avenues to choose from.

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