Posted: October 25, 2022 in MUSIC

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard seem determined that their fans should have very little free time. “Changes” is the upcoming 23rd studio album by Australian psychedelic rock band, Who knows how long it will take to fully absorb and process the five albums the six-member Melbourne psych-rock outfit has released this year alone? “Changes”, the band’s third album to be released this coming month, is a departure from the psychedelic guitar noodling of early October’s “Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava”, toward a jazzier amalgam of influences like Queen, Stevie Wonder and the Beastie Boys.

The album was first conceived in 2017. That same year, the band released five studio albums “Changes” was supposed to be the final one, however the band didn’t think the album was finished, and instead released “Gumboot Soup”. The eventual release of the album contains “Exploding Suns” as it was recorded back in 2017. As stated by band member Stu Mackenzie: “Every song is built around this one chord progression – every track is like a variation on a theme.” The band had been “tinkering with” Changes since then, calling the album “not necessarily our most complex record, but every little piece and each sound you hear has been thought about a lot.”

Only those familiar with 2017’s “Sketches of East Brunswick”, KGLW’s collaboration with American stoner jazz collective Mild High Club, would even suspect upon hearing the opening of the album, during which a fast hi-hat pattern chases a slithery piano melody, that this blue note-inflected noodling was emanating from a gizzard of any kind. “Changes” was originally going to be one long song. That became the album’s 13-minute opening track “Change”, which was described as a “odyssey touching on kaleidoscopic ’60s pop, colour-splattered prog-rock fireworks, and floaty, keyboard-driven retro R&B”. Mackenzie described the following songs as building out of the first track: “Hate Dancin” is built out of one of the chord progressions from “Change”. And then “Astroturf” is built out of one of the chord progressions in “Change” as well. And so is “Short Change”, the last song. Every song on the album is built out of a section of “Changes”.

During the 13-minute epic, synth sounds transform the strange soundscape into a spacey groove replete with electric piano, tubby bass and whispery lyrics.

“Change for its own sake/ Uniformity gives me a bellyache,” guitarist-singer Stu Mackenzie sings. The song is sprawling but remains thoroughly chillaxed, at times punctuated by mellow scatting, until the huge rock outro reminds listeners they have a head with which to bang. The album’s other extended jam, “Astroturf,” which clocks in at seven and a half minutes, is pinioned by syncopated drumming and keys. Just  imagine an uptempo “The Virgin Suicides” soundtrack from Air. Whispery vocals are accompanied by blasts of horns. During the second half of the song, a funky flute dances with bubbly synth bass. Here, a band that earlier this month released an album that evoked comparisons to Santana, Yes and Magma seems equally at home dipping into the vibe from the Beastie Boys and classic vinyl.

The album’s five other tracks all set up their sonic base camps around vintage electric piano grooves and bumping drumbeats. “Hate Dancin” calls to mind Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” with its major key cheeriness and plunky Fender Rhodes piano sounds.

Standouts include “No Body,” which feels like a funky guitar solo, a further twist on Ween’s take on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” The song’s huge hi-hat blasts add a touch of Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips sound to the sonic stew. “Gondii” sports a Krautrock vibe with Motorik-inspired beat and bleepy synths sounds. Mackenzie’s sort of new wave sounding vocals manage to sound mechanized but soulful.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard seems to operate almost like a bacterium or other single-cell organism, in that the band’s growth seems exponential rather than linear. Like a bacterial culture spreading to cover the bottom of the petri dish, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is constantly exploring new musical landscapes, and like any good explorers, sending back plenty of maps of these territories. Good things come to those who wait, and the magnificent “Changes” is worth every one of the 2,628,000 minutes King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard invested in it. Soaked in the warm sonics of 70s r’n’b and guided by simple chord-changes that contain multitudes and rounding out another remarkable year for the group, their fifth album of 2022 is a luminous, soft-pop marvel. Come lose yourself in its slow-cooked brilliance.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

  • Stu Mackenzie
  • Ambrose Kenny-Smith
  • Michael Cavanagh
  • Joey Walker
  • Cook Craig
  • Lucas Harwood

Due to arrive Friday 11th November

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