This is a special round-up, focusing on just one band. During 2017, Australian Psychedelic Rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have been on a mission. They promised at the start of the year to release around 4-5 albums in total, a giant task in some ways, especially when you have not written all the music, and you are still touring the globe with all the work that happens whilst being on the road. At various stages, I have had individual blogs started for most of these albums, but with laptop issues, failing to back up what I had originally written and the dawning realisation that they were going to do it, I decided to wait until they had released at least four albums (which happened on 17th November 2017). I can only think of one other person (Omar Rodríguez-López) who has released a load of new material in quick succession, but the main difference with that batch of releases was that those albums were built up over the years. These have all been recorded and released in the last twelve months, most of the songs are relatively fresh, showcasing the band on top of their collective game and in keeping with the bands recording ethos. If you look at their discography, as of 18th November 2017, they have released twelve albums, two Eps and two singles since 2012! So, they are a band who like to release music whilst it is fresh in their mind, to keep the coals burning on their artistic ideas, and to never let the grass grow beneath their feet. There is talk of them releasing another album close to Christmas, if they do I will update this review, but as of 18th November 2017, here is my reviews of all the records released by King Gizzard & The Lizard Gizzard in 2017!
Flying Microtonal Banana
Flying Microtonal Banana
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard started their 2017 journey with this little gem, Flying Microtonal Banana released on 24th February 2017. When I saw the cover and that ludicrous name, I knew I had to at least hear the album. It was one of the reviews I lost in 2017 when my old laptop gave up the ghost, so I sort of feel like I am going over familiar ground. Flying Microtonal Banana is a dream given flesh, a mad-man’s vision into a broken utopia and it sounds glorious. There is a constant train of thought occurring throughout this record, one which is not 100% apparent when you first listen to this album. You must be patient with this one, to give it time to evolve in front of your eyes. The sounds of waves and the wind between the songs give this an organic feeling, which is beautiful to these ears, it suggests an affinity with nature and the world at large. It's a retro-release, but one that is worth investing time and effort into.
8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.
Top track – Rattlesnake
Murder of the Universe
Murder of the Universe was released on 23rd June 2017, this is the album that I have invested into the fullest, giving it the best percentage of my attention, so I think it will be obvious from the beginning that this is my favourite album on offer here.
Split into three stories, Murder of the Universe is my favourite record that the King and his reptile amphibians have released. Each track sounds glorious, the cover of the record is a gore fest nightmare and they are on fire with this one. The first part is “The Tale of The Altered Beast”, a tale that deals with temptation that is forbidden in society and the loss of self once this happens between beast and human. The second is the battle of “The Lord of Lightning Vs The Balrog!” A battle between God-like monsters, trying to lay claim to a town which the Lightning Lord has been terrorising, but when he accidently creates the Balrog who attacks the town without hesitation or mercy. This leads to battle and defeat for The Balrog, after which The Lord of Lightning departs the scene. The final chapter is “Han-Tyumi & The Murder of the Universe”, this one is a bit fucked up – even after the previous two tales. It deals with a cyborg who gains consciousness, wants to experience things, merges with another machine, starts to vomit and then drowns the universe in his sick. As I said, it is fucked up.
Over the three chapters, played out over twenty-one songs, the band have created one of the best rock concept albums of the year, it's a fantastic album which feels like a horror comic that has been recrafted to music. One of the gems of 2017, check it out now!
9.5 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost
Top track – The Balrog
Sketches of Brunswick East
Sketches of Brunswick East was released on 18th August 2017, we find a different version of King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard on third record. This is a collaborative effort with Mile High Club, it also sounds sonically different to the previous two releases. The album came about because Alex Brettin, the sole member of the band, played at King Gizzard's own Gizzfest in December 2016. Afterward, Brettin stayed with members of King Gizzard for a few weeks, during which they came up with ideas. They then started to trade phone messages, keeping the idea alive, these ideas where referred to as sketches, which became the album title. Taking influence from Miles Davis, Sketches of Brunswick East finds both acts channelling their talents into this jazz influenced record, so this is the album that I would usually only listen to when the mood dictates. But when I am in the mood for that sort of record, it will be near the top of the pile when I come to pick a record.
7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out
Top track – A Journey to (S)hell
Polygondwanaland has only been in the world for the last 20+ hours, so this one is fresh off the press, so to speak. This album has been released for free by the band, they have made it public domain and will not be physically releasing any copies of it. That is right, the band have given the world the keys on this record and have said “take it, it is yours”. You can even download the master copies, so you can print versions yourself! That is a brave and wonderful move, for a few reasons. Firstly, doing this when you are just making a name for yourself will encourage a lot of people to check your stuff out directly from the band, instead of less “reputable” sources. Secondly, it creates a bound between the listener and the band, it deepens that relationship as this is a free gift, coming directly from the band - no strings attached. Thirdly, it's good publicity, you cannot pay for that sort of news or headlines.
When they released it, they broke their website and they had to put up direct leaks on their social media pages (which probably went down too). I got mine from their Bandcamp page, and apart from one other album I am finishing for a review, it is all I have listened to in the last twenty-four hours. My first impressions about this record are positive, it's back to their psychedelic/acid rock roots, with songs on the record that were previously uploaded to YouTube in demo form. Whilst it doesn't have that intense experience akin to Murder of the Universe, it has a lot in common with Sketches…... and Flying Microtonal Banana, giving it a hybrid feeling in their 2017 discography. But I have a feeling that my mark here might change, so I am possible gonna revisit this, especially if they get another record out in 2017. But first impressions - it is a great record that needs more time to reveal it's secrets.
8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart
Top track – Horology
You can purchase these albums and more from the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Bandcamp page here.
You can purchase various albums from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Amazon here.
You can visit the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard website here.
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You can stream various albums by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Spotify here.
You can stream various albums by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Deezer here.
You can stream various albums by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Tidal here.