King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are as prolific as they are versatile. Not many bands can release five albums in one year and not many can defy genre as swiftly.
Flying Microtonal Banana was the first album the experimental group put out during their 2017 release rampage, which saw the band muck around with quarter-tone tuning throughout.
The band’s latest Instagram post features frontman Stu Mackenzie playing what definitely sounds and looks like a microtonal acoustic guitar, leading us to believe another adversely tuned album is on its way. And why not? It is King Gizz we’re talking about here.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are known for experimenting with unorthodox tunings, unusual time signatures and modified guitars.
Born out of Melbourne, the group partly consists of former RMIT University music students. Each King Gizz member is a technically trained musical mastermind in their own right.
King Gizz frontman, Stu Mackenzie crossed paths with a bağlama, a lute-style stringed instrument, during the Turkish leg of a European tour. After becoming fascinated in the versatility of the instrument, a friend of Mackenzie’s decided to build him a custom microtonal guitar. And thus, the Flying Microtonal Banana (not a real banana) was born.
“We had this idea of adding some secret notes, sort of out-of-tune, kinda like half quartazones. We’ve kinda been making this record to be quarter-toned zoned.”
From extra-fretted basses to open-tuned guitars, the entire Flying Microtonal Banana album was played out by modified instruments in whack tunings. It even featured a special Turkish horn called a zerna.
“It gets kinda geeky but I like getting geeky but the vibe is: we’re so attuned to a certain set of musical notes and musical scale; there’s many other possibilities and there’s nothing that’s mathematically sacred about the notes that we choose.”
But why are we talking about peeling back the Flying Microtonal Banana again now? That’s because the band dropped a little hint on Instagram the other day, which attentive fans may have already picked up on.
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Mackenzie is seen playing a microtonal acoustic guitar, in front of a suburban Melbourne sunset backdrop. “Paper Mache Microtonal Banana???” reads one of the comments. We think YES!
After raising $20,000 for Indigenous social justice organisations, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard just released their RATTY documentary for free on YouTube. It delves into the creative process of their latest studio album, Infest the Rat’s Nest. Check it out here.