As the years roll on by and our lives change for the better or worse, the one constant through everything seems to be King Gizzard’s relentless output. They’ve seemingly done it all, from a never-ending album with Nonagon Infinity, to a jazz-infused collaboration on Sketches Of Brunswick East. Now the band seem to be taking a step back from seeing how far they can push their sound, to refining sounds that have become familiar to them. This isn’t just any release from the band it’s worth noting, this is both the 2nd and 3rd in a series of albums. 2nd in that it follows on from last years K.G., together making the K.G.L.W double album. And 3rd in the Explorations Intro Microtonal Tuning series, the other two being 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana and K.G. What the band sought to do on K.G. was see how many of their styles they could fit within this microtonal soundscape to create an album that defined the band by being self-titled. Now on the second half of that project the band are drawing influence from themselves, to create a full project that deservedly takes the bands name.
If K.G. was the album that allowed the band to set a statement for their sound, then L.W. is the weird brother that on the surface looks the same, but deep down there’s something much more sinister at work. Straight off the bat the band add a new style and sound to their catalogue with the minimalist funk inspired opener “If Not Now, Then When?”. They speak on familiar themes of climate change, that could be found all over 2019’s Fishing For Fishies, asking again of why action isn’t being taken now, why are we waiting until “the oceans turn to black, When the animals are dead”. It’s worth noting as well that the flow of the songs that was found all over K.G. is felt immediately into this album as well as closer “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate” leads directly into this opener.
On K.G. “Honey” was the band adding a more acoustic driven flavour of microtonal sweetness into the mix. On this album the acoustic tracks make an appearance in the forms of “Static Electricity” and “East West Link”, but this time there’s something much more unnerving about the sound. “Static Electricity” shifts through various movements of spacey synthesiser whirlwinds, intoxicating guitar melodies and phaser smothered solos. This song truly feels like what it must be like to travel down an electric wire into a plug socket, each movement pushing you along, losing yourself into the ether of psychedelic textures around you. It’s the band at their most left-field and therefore most exciting. Seamlessly transitioning into the Turkish folk infused “East West Link” that acts almost of an extension of the former song; a swirling link if you will. It’s in these moments that King Gizzard truly showcase their compositional and production supremacy.
There are of course the moments on that do lean into the more “rock-centric” corner of the bands sound, with the likes of “O.N.E” and “Pleura” not being too dissimilar in aesthetic to “Automation”. It’s fun to listen to but isn’t the most adventurous that King Gizzard can be. That’s not to say however that the ever-changing time signatures, thanks to drummer Michael Cavanagh, aren’t something to truly admired. Which is something that was mentioned on our K.G. review, the flow and movements that he creates to go between songs and even within songs are so seamless that they slip right by you without any trail; dust in the wind. This incredible percussion is also showcased all over the patriarchal teardown “Supreme Ascendancy”. As Ambrose Kenny-Smith hits out agains the Catholic church, “Childhoods tragically ripped from their shaking feet, Conscious yet inadequate”, Cavanagh simultaneously drives the track along whilst drawing you in to its unrelenting groove.
King Gizzard are no stranger to metal at this point, whether you’re looking at 2019’s trash outing Infest The Rats Nest or “The Great Chain Of Being” from 2017’s Gumboot Soup. And they take another swing at the sludge metal aspect of this sound in the form of 8 minute closer “K.G.L.W”. This and the opener from K.G. act as bookends for both of the albums, wrapping them neatly together. On this occasion they extend the riff out into its most doom filled form. It’s crunchy, it’s heavy and there’ll certainly be a lot of head banging at concerts. However the track could do with being about half the length. Although it’s a great melody and can act now as almost a theme tune for the band, it almost feels like a slog to get to the end of the album. You can see the band were going for more of a loose jam feel with this track but with only a few melodic changes and riffs to carry the track over its run time it doesn’t match up to some of the other long tracks within the King Gizzard catalogue, of which there are many.
These two albums are clearly not King Gizzard’s most experimental outings, but they’re not trying to be. What they are however are gateways to the wonderful world of The Gizzverse. They showcase almost every aspect of the band’s sound up to this point, whether you’re a diehard Gizz fan or a newcomer to the band eclectic sound, there’s something for everyone here. But one question still remains, who truly is the Lizard Wizard?