King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Flying Microtonal Banana Shuga Records
Australian psych rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have released eight records in four years. Now the Melbourne band aim to release five albums in this year alone. It’s a fittingly insane promise from one of the weirdest and most wonderful bands on the planet, and I wouldn’t bet against them coming through on it.
The best thing about King Gizzard, aside from the psychotic bedlam that envelops their gigs, is that they somehow manage to avoid blandly rehashing the same ideas, even at their exhausting rate of recording. Their last effort Nonagon Infinity was a near-perfect amalgamation of garage rock’s capacity for exhilaration and propulsion. But it was also defined by its conception as an infinite loop: when played with a repeat function activated, the end of the final track segues perfectly back to the beginning of the first. Further back in early 2015, before the warm and hushed Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, they released Quarters, a four-part improvisational album where each song was exactly 10 minutes and 10 seconds long. These conceptual frameworks somehow avoided feeling gimmicky, instead giving the band focus.
The particular quirk that gives Flying Microtonal Banana its name is their experimentation with microtones: splitting traditional western octaves into 24 tones instead of 12. The result is an eastern flavour that won’t be unfamiliar to anyone aware of psychedelia’s long-time flirtation with sounds from beyond Western Europe. The difference here is that there aren’t many bands who built microtonal guitars shaped like flying bananas before.
Often, admirably outward-looking records like these overlook the fundamental tenet of actually sounding good. Thankfully frontman Stu Mackenzie recently stated that for them: “[The] challenge was to make music that didn’t sound too wrong within those parameters.” On Flying Microtonal Banana, their mix of experimentation, insatiably chugging rhythms, and classic psych screech-and-squawk, sounds so, so right.