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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have to be one of the most accomplished young Australian bands from the past decade. Aside from being mind-blowingly prolific, they have become widely respected, at home and overseas, for creating music that would, perhaps in a different time, be labeled as niche.
They have crossed genre borders like no one else, first punching out scuzzy garage rock with their debut Willoughby’s Beach EP and their first record, 12 Bar Bruise (a delicious play on words). Then came Eyes Like The Sky, a winding, cinematic journey through cowboy-era America with its spaghetti western guitars and prophetic overdubs between tracks. Float Along – Fill Your Lungs and Oddments saw the band reach new heights of popularity with their exploration of progressive psychedelia (Head On/Pill is one of the best psych tracks from the last…ever), and a fresh take on 60s soul music.
The King Gizzard boys have taken it up a notch with their winding, expansive, experimental new album Quarters!
2014’s I’m In Your Mind Fuzz saw the band take these influences even further with the 12-minute (four track) psychedelic journey that takes up the A-side of the record. Now we have Quarters!, Gizzard’s second foray into a concept album (in a way most them are in some way or another). Just take a minute to appreciate that’s six albums and an EP in a bit under four years…like, what the hell?
For those that haven’t listened the album yet, or perhaps didn’t realise, the four tracks that make up Quarters! are ten minutes, ten seconds each – marketing suicide for most modern pop bands, but of course, King Gizzard do what they like. There was a radio edit for the lead single God Is In The Rhythm, but it acts more as promotional material for the album. The edit doesn’t quite do the song, or the album justice. This is an album that needs to be listened to, absorbed, start to end, in full, to be fully appreciated. You wouldn’t listen to Dark Side on shuffle, right?
The River was the second ‘single’, popping up randomly overnight alongside a brilliantly animated video. There is a whole lot of jazz influence on the track, with a consistent groove overlaid with guitar and vocal flourishes. The production is incredible, spearheading 60s influences and equipment, and warping them with modern mixing techniques.The dual drums are panned left and right, billowing from side to side, taking turns with little jazzy flourishes and fills. Bongos caress and shakers rattle, and all the while you’re trying to keep up with where it’s all coming from.
Throughout the album passages, pulse in and out, peaking and fading away before returning back to a steady canter. Singer Stu Mackenzie has dropped his garage rock growl, fully embracing the soft, in-your-ear croon that blossomed on I’m In Your Mind Fuzz; and don’t worry there are still those whacky effeminate moments from The Murloc‘s Ambrose Kenney-Smith alongside his fuzzed out harp.
Infinite Rise brings it way down with a tripped-out downtempo soundscape, reflecting a little bit of pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd. There are soundbites of manic laughter (think Nick Mason’s warped vocal on One Of These Days), car crashes and babies laughing through what sounds like a steel tube, all feeding off the collage-like lyrics
The whole record crackles with tape warmth, faithful to its 60s roots. Movement is key for the album; everything is fluid and dynamic, constantly moving and shifting, with unpredictable instrumentation held together by insistent rhythms. There is some fantastic guitar work throughout the albums’ entirety, with a sitar making an appearance alongside melancholy harmonica and laconic percussion. Lonely Steel Sheet Flyer is a full blown psychedelic experience, a warm pillow of wind with wailing echoey guitars and a sanguine walking bass line.
Quarters! is a progressive work of art, brimming with inspiration from a band who, in all honesty, should be well out of ideas. There is nobody else quite like them, and only the band know which heights they will be taking their music to next; and we all know we won’t have to wait long to find out.
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