“My body’s overworked
It’s just the same I know
When can my body work
Cold static overload?
My body works, I know
It’s just the same, I know
My only difference
Is robot influence”
The chorus off of “Robot Stop” from 2016’s Nonagon Infinity is a prophetic statement for 2017. With the band releasing two new songs off of their fifth album this year on Wednesday, the Melbourne based King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is at the tail end of a whirlwind year. Touring across Australia, New Zealand, the U.S (twice) [if you want to see K-UTE’s Jackson Card’s review of their SLC show, check it out here.], and Europe the band has not only focused on tours but recording five different albums and ending the year with a touring music festival across Australia, “Gizzfest.”
A band with this kind of ethos is almost unheard of in 2017.KGATLW have proven that they can deal with a heavy workload and deliver quality music, concerts, and collaborations. What started as a seven member garage rock band from Geelong, Victoria in Australia, KGATLW consistently delivers new albums with new sounds, and 2017 was the band proving themselves to the world.
Starting with Flying Microtonal Banana in February, the band introduced a western audience to 24 TET tuning (For the non-musically inclined, these are notes in between notes in western music) which is commonly used in Arabic music. Fusing Psych rock, Krautrock, and Turkish folk music, the band created a sound that has not been seen in western popular music since The Beatles. The album had two singles that got considerable airplay in Australia and some U.S stations, “Rattlesnake” and “Billabong Valley”, the latter being a contemporary Bush Ballad that tells the story of Bushranger Dan “Mad Dog” Morgan.
In June the band released Murder of the Universe, an album that told three different stories through the band’s signature psych/kraut/garage sound. The album was even nominated for the ARIA’s (Australia’s RIAA) “Best Hard Rock Album” of 2017. Featuring Leah Senior’s narration for the first two stories on the album, the band resorted to using a text-to-speech application to narrate the final story. The album did not have any songs that got considerable airplay due to the length of each story, however it is the first time since “Eyes Like the Sky” that KGATLW has used spoken word to guide the structure of the album.
In August the band released Sketches of Brunswick East, a collaboration with U.S based jazz fusion group “Mild High Club.” The album mixes some concepts from “Flying Microtonal Banana” with a looser, improvisational feel ushered by Mild High Club’s involvement. This is some of the most improvisational content that the band has put out and their first foray into jazz. Citing Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” as inspiration for the album name and jazz influence, the band delivers a newer sound that has not been heard in their discography. The album’s big single “Countdown” received heavy airplay in Australia. Again the band shows that they can metamorphose their sound and surprise their audience with new concepts they’ve never explored.
In November the band rolled out with Polygondwanaland. An album that is as fun to listen to as it is to pronounce. Building on the themes explored in “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” and “Nonagon Infinity,” the band produces an album that uses more synthesizer than any of the band’s previous work. The big takeaway from this album however is the band released it entirely for free. The masters and artwork were given to the public for free. The band is stated as saying, “Ever wanted to start your own record label? GO for it! Employ your mates, press wax, pack boxes. We do not own this record. You do. Go forth, share, enjoy.” The band again explores a new concept never seen with their work. The fanbase has already began publishing Polygondwanaland among different labels, creating special editions of the album that are unique to each label. KGATLW shows that there’s always something new up their sleeve. If you want to read more about Polygondwanaland, check out our very own Jackson Card’s review of the album here.
What’s going to be on the fifth album? The band released two singles on Wednesday (You can listen to them below), “Beginners Luck” and “All is Known.” Both singles show an amalgamation of their musical work in 2017. With “Beginners Luck” borrowing the softer sound of “Sketches of Brunswick East” and Beginners Luck taking sounds off “Flying Microtonal Banana” and “Murder of the Universe.” Does this mean the band’s fifth album will be the capstone of their work in 2017? If these singles indicate anything, the answer is yes.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has delivered in 2017, they have come of age. Stu Mackenzie is now Kevin Parker’s biggest threat in terms of the Australian rock scene. In the time that Tame Impala has been quiet,KGATLW has come in and taken the crown from them. KGATLW has become the ruler of the late 2010s in the way that Tame Impala was in the early 2010s. The work they’ve done in 2017 has shown that rock is not dead. The show of pure passion for their content shows off with the band’s fanbase, and by giving their fans Polygondwanaland they’ve developed a new brand of marketing that is so brave in a world where music does not make a living.KGATLW is a force to be reckoned with. Time will show that their efforts are not fruitless and their work ethos in 2017 has sealed them as an influential band of the 2010s.