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Over the last handful of years, a new vanguard of psychedelic rock music based on the models of the late 1960s and early 1970s established itself on the large continent amid the Pacific Ocean. A tidal wave of emerging young bands floods the country, injecting new energy into dusted ideas and create sounds that evoke a blissful tingle among the listeners and guide them through the mystical aspects of life. Australia is considered one bastion of modern psychedelic rock, and it is simply impossible to do all the bands justice within a short article. The huge continent in the middle of the Pacific is home to a legion of aspiring young artists, but no band has created as much of an international fuss as King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, despite the name being quite a mouthful. Are the laurels justified or totally out of place?
DDown Under. A phrase that immediately evokes the exotic continent in the middle of the Pacific and has already been portrayed in countless pop-cultural formats. Within the last decade, the continent where the water runs in the opposite direction has become an ever-expanding revival scene, paying tribute to the psychedelic garage sounds of the 1960s and 1970s and transporting them to new, unimagined soundscapes thanks to the advanced recording technology. We are talking about the Australian Neo Psychedelic Rock movement, which has established its headquarters in Melbourne and Perth, respectively and has unveiled a plethora of emerging, experimental, and sometimes plain incredible young bands. Since the number of musical groups is so high, no article in the world could do justice to all, so this is primarily focused on King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard.
As mentioned above, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard is the pinnacle of Australia's thriving modern psych rock movement. Hardly any other band apart from the six young men surrounding creative head Stu Mackenzie release quality albums this prolifically and manage to enrapture audiences with their live shows. In total, the lads have already released 19 studio albums since their 12 years of existence. All artwork was drawn by Australian artist Jason Galea, who is the band´s main promotional photographer directed some of their music videos as well. Three more albums are planned for 2022 alone, after two full lengths have been released with "Made in Timeland" and "Omnium Gatherum", already. Can King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard keep the momentum up with the sheer amount of material? Or do they fail in their exorbitant ambitions, such as Icarus, who ventured too close to the sun?
From the restrained beginnings of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard's worship of the garage sounds of the 60s and 70s, to the current album, which seems to be borrowing from every existing genre of music to serve a musical piñata, making music lovers of all ages and musical preferences rejoice. Both exciting and unpredictable are the twists and influences that occur within just one album. All influences harmonize with each other effortlessly and ensure exciting arrangements and an organic flow.
Musically speaking, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are at home everywhere, hopping from genre to genre, varying from psychedelic/garage rock to indie, folk, jazz/lounge and even hip-hop on the latest album from the prolific Australians. In 2019, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard released a mercilessly cool heavy metal record with "Infest The Rats` Nest", which could have been produced in the 80s. A wild mixture of thrash, doom and stoner metal, which sounds perfectly authentic and once again impressively demonstrates the sheer range of these jacks - of - all - trades.
In 2012, after they released a fine debut album with "12 Bar Bruise", which could have come straight from a bygone era, the follow-up work immediately took a stylistic detour. On "Eyes Like The Sky", released a year later, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard deliver the soundtrack to an imaginary Western in less than half an hour. The late maestro Ennio Morricone, who composed some of the most iconic film soundtracks, most notably the spaghetti westerns of the 60s starring Clint Eastwood, would certainly be proud of the guys from Down Under.
The magic album number three, in King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard's case "Float Along - Fill Your Lungs", where psychedelic sounds were fully expanded upon and released in the same year. The 16-minute intro "Head On/Pill", which is a real trip of a song, proves that point immediately. From now on, the psychedelic note should dominate as the main component of Australians, with occasional little excursions into other sonic realms, which King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard seems to integrate with ease.
Over the next six years, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard would explode creatively, producing a total of eleven albums that barely differ in quality, rather offering an enormous smorgasbord of wild ideas, frenetic, youthful energy and ever-competent musicality. Every human emotion feels like being touched upon in King Gizzard And the Lizard Wizard`s eclectic discography, making picking up a highlight in the line of sheer quality albums an almost impossible task.
One fantastic album is "Flying Microtonal Bananas" from 2017, in which the band released four albums, which directly animates with the opener "Rattlesnake" and enchants with its simplicity and micro-tonal frequencies. In 2020 and 2021 the conceptually linked albums "K.G." and "L.W." followed, as well as "Butterfly 3000", implementing more and more pop sensibilities, blending even more styles smoothly into an overall concept. With songs like "Shanghai" and "Interior People", King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard delicately and typically playfully, while a "Black Hot Soup" captures psyched-out summer vibes.
Epic and colossal compositions are no strangers to the band, such as "Made In Timeland", whose length is comprised of two four-hour tracks and the first banger of the latest album, "The Dripping Tap". Where do the Aussies of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard take the time to put the massive amount of material out, since the individual members, like most active musicians on the Australian scene, are involved in plenty of projects? For example, keyboardist and harmonica player Ambrose Kenny - Smith, who is the creative leader in another recommended band from Melbourne, `The Murlocs`.
Why are one psych rock band after another sprouting out of the fertile ground all the time? Something huge is rustling through the Australian bush, perhaps the thin ozone layer is providing the creative drive needed? Whatever the answer to these questions is, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are the enigmatic pioneers and poster children of a new-found sound that digs deep into musical roots and wraps modern hymns in a timeless guise.
Similar to the all-rounders from Australia, you will find countless topics from the world of music here on mukken.com. We are constantly expanding and improving. All thanks to a spirited team of music nerds who work hard to spread the love of music on a professional level. Because music brings people together. That is the motto of mukken.com and everything is done to build and maintain connections. From features to artists to books and films about music, to coaching contributions or instrument knowledge, everything that has to do with music is covered. The blog is always growing - feel free to grow with us and celebrate the fascination of music!
Originally published on February 1, 2023, updated on March 4, 2023