King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have gained prominence from their unconventional and idiosyncratic psychedelic sound. On top of that, they’ve managed to release twelve albums in six years. By the end of 2017, they will have a total of five albums over a span of twelve months. Add that with a tongue twister of a name and you’ve got yourselves an eccentric psychedelic rock band that loves to experiment.
Here, we have their fourth project released this year named Polygondwanaland. While they don’t have the bizarre microtonal guitar riffs that lead vocalist Stu Mackenzie graced us with on Flying Microtonal Banana, the band encapsulates all of their different styles from their other two albums released this year on Polygondwanaland. As expected, this is their most refined record of the four of them.
They continue the anime-style concept introduced from Murder of the Universe and Sketches of Brunswick East (feat. Mile High Club), but without the narrator to guide us along. The first track, “Crumbling Castle,” is a ten minute saga that masterfully intertwines the funky production on Brunswick East, with the harsh power chords from Murder of the Universe. Mackenzie’s voice robotically moves on this off-the-wall instrumentation, and the transition from style to style is actually quite impressive.
While I found the Australians to be a tad pretentious on their past projects, Mackenzie and company do a good job of toning it back a bit with the mixing. After the roller coaster ride of the initial song, the title track puts us into the wonderland of funk base thrumming, Prior to delving into their most recent effort, Brunswick East intrigued me the most because of how simplistic and unique it was. I felt that they weren’t trying to overdo the experimentation like on the albums prior to that. Here on Polygondwanland, King Gizzard captures those vibrant chords, and takes the concept to another level.
One of their major strengths on their previous records from this year was their uncanny ability to transition smoothly from song to song. Even with the wacky attempts to stand out sonically, they still managed to make a conceptual story. Sadly, I don’t feel like much effort was put into that aspect of this new album. While the music is a step up, the adventure is less memorable after the second track. Sometimes, this could happen when releasing so many albums in a short period of time.
The Aussies did however end the album on a higher note. One of the standouts on this project, “Horology,” finds Mackenzie rhythmically drifting over the earthy guitar riffs. “Tetrachomacy” is another instance of Mackenzie delicately dancing over the harmonious mixing. What I especially loved on this album was Mackenzie’s ability to sound as a part of the instruments. With audacious lyricism sprinkled all over, Mackenzie finds interesting ways to incorporate his voice on the production. This was again the case on “Searching…,” where he tones back his vocal performance to create a more atmospheric touch.
Oddly enough, with all of the berserk commentary that goes into their concepts, King Gizzard still finds ways to sound consistent and finished. They find a way to wrap up the record in a nice bow on their last song, “The Final Colour,” Although it sounds similar to “Crumbling Castle” (with Mackenzie using what seems to be the same vocal effects as the latter song), “The Final Colour” is the perfect end to an otherwise unclear story. They seemed to get a little too cute by the conclusion of the track however, when an obnoxious amount of instruments are added to the final minute for a messy grand finale.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have continuously shown why they are one of the most appealing bands amongst hardcore music fans. They keep things interesting. they don’t care whether you think they’re good or bad. It’s definitely something that many of us can admire. On their fourth album of the year, the Aussies seemed to have created their most complete sound. Even without the blotchy storytelling, they still find a way to keep the production interesting.