Written Before Listen
If you don’t know by now, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is an Australian…well…band that have released their 17th and 18th album in the previous year or so. This is a band prior to my Microtonal Banana review I had rarely any exposure to. I knew who they were and I knew their whole image was to basically never make the same album twice….well that is until now where they continue with their microtonal venture with their second and third volumes of the trilogy. With that being said, I decided to give them a listen starting off with the album that begun the trilogy Flying Microtonal Banana. If you haven’t already, you could look at my review for a more in depth explanation but lets just say I loved it. It had a great blend of vintage psych rock, modern ideas and endless creativity and versatility. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to hearing the next two records that are part of this trilogy.
Differences Between KG & FMB
So since this is part two of the trilogy, King Gizzard do take some cues from its predecessor. It’s still a Psychedelic Rock album at the end of the day. That doesnt take away the fact that there is a lot of differences between the two. One thing it is losing completely is the elements of old school garage rock. There is honestly no track that could be even close to categorizing in the garage rock genre. The Turkish vibes are still there slightly but it’s missing its heavy use of the Zurna that made the previous work in the trilogy so outlandish and captivating. Another thing it’s missing heavily is it’s Krautrock influence that made the previous work super playful in comparison to KG. Instead the album takes influences from more progressive music, heavier music and overall I think this new album is a little more widespread and eclectic.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is a not a stranger to new ideas. Whether if its in albums or on individual songs. On this album, it’s still following the Microtonal formula they had in 2017. Honestly, if you told me “Ontology” was a FMB B-side, I would believe you more than if you told me that it was on the new King gizzard album. On the other hand, they are not afraid of new ideas at all. It seems like they got a microtonal acoustic as well making microtonal folk songs on tracks like “Straws In The wind” and “Honey”. Even more unexpected is the complete turn into Dance music on “Intrasport”. It’s not only different from anything on Microtonal Banana, but different from anything on this record. I could say the same thing about “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate” which is a full on take on psychedelic doom metal. I honestly appreciate the ambition but do they deliver? I’d say so. I don’t think the experiments are as bold and conventional as a song like “Melting” for example. I like the folk expiraments on this quite a bit. Their take on Doom Metal might not be as heavy or dense as your classic Doom Metal albums but their take on it is quite quirky and mechanical. I appreciate and accept their dance track “Intrasport” but I think they have room for improvement when it comes to that type of music. Their new ideas are kind of a mixed bag but its a mixed bag where a majority of the selections have a positive outcome.
One thing that I liked so much about Flying Microtonal Banana is their ability to stick to their own unique style. It sure had influences of some of the psychedelic rock bands of the 60s but nothing super out there as a primary influence. This record is fortunately similar. Although, there a couple of tracks to point out. For instance the songs “Minimum Brain Size” and “Ontology” have not only the guitar tones and the instrumental backings but also the sequencing formats and improvisational sections of a Zappa song. We also can’t talk about influences on this album without bringing up the final track “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate” where the beginning riff sounds like Sabbath on steroids. Crushed into small pieces and rearranged.
So the lyrics on Microtonal Banana truly did catch my eye. A lot of the topics on that album were mythical and adventurous. Due to the pandemic, MacKenzies songwriting on this record is more topically related to it. “Minimum Brain Size” could possibly be about the people who go out amidst of a pandemic but its mainly centered around people who really are arrogant and self-centered therefore wanting to shrink their intelligence to minimum brain size. “Straws In The Wind” and “Some Of Us” are all about people overwhelming the community that it’s the end of the world. “Oddlife” is all about reflecting back into the bands touring days and how much a part of their music was devoted to it. “Honey” could possibly talking about making the best out of this pandemic and “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate” could be about facing the pandemics grand impact that it’s had to us. The pandemic isn’t the only topic talked about. They talk about Artificial intelligence on “Automation” and in a turn of events, “Intrasport” is all about a sex predator. Personally, I can see why they would want to focus on current events amidst the pandemic but I kind of miss the mythical storytelling on Flying Microtonal Banana.
If I had to say so, I’d say I came out of this album not really disappointed but not fulfilled either. I think there are some elements that made Flying Microtonal Banana so ambitious that don’t show up here. First off, the absence of Eric Moore is kind of hurting the bands sound on this record. The drums have nowhere near the same impact as they did on FMB. I also think some of the new experiments are just undeveloped at some points. I could also note that some of the microtonality portions are kind of forced, uncreative and predictable. Other than that, I came out of this album with a positive verdict.
To wrap this up, Let me just say that although my expectations weren’t met on this record, I still came out enjoying it. Some great tracks wound up here and a track like “Honey” could’ve been one of my favorites on FMB. Despite the gripes I have with this record, I still think its a solid record and worth a listen if you are a fan of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.