King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – where to begin?

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Australian psychedelic rock band King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard released their next LP The Silver Cord (and its extended edition) on October 27th. This is the band’s 25th full length studio album, despite them only having formed in 2010. With such a vast and genre-spanning discography, it can be difficult for prospective fans of ‘Gizz’ to know where to start with their music.

Here are five of their finest albums: 

Paper Mâché Dream Balloon (2015)

King Gizzard’s acoustic album feels like childhood. Setting aside their screeching electric guitars and dusting off their bongos and flutes, the band crafts an album as warming as hot chocolate on an icy day. With a runtime of just over 30 minutes divided between 12 tracks (including an instrumental epilogue) this album’s songs are quaint both in size and style – a stark change from King Gizzard’s usual behemoth, electronic opuses.

The band muses over everyday issues, vocals little more than a whisper. The melodies are gentle, sweet and catchy, and the production is immersive and gorgeous. This album is perhaps as accessible to the general listener as Gizzard will get – and it’s one of their best.

Omnium Gatherum (2022)

Omnium Gatherum opens with percussion-driven track ‘The Dripping Tap’, which clocks in at a mighty 18 minutes. The song exhibits the band’s distinctive ability to extract countless drum grooves and guitar hooks from a central musical theme in a way that never becomes boring. The track accelerates and soars and doesn’t cease to surprise.

The rest of the album is a conglomeration (an ‘omnium gatherum’, if you will) of genres ranging from metal to R&B and hip-hop. Despite the lack of overarching concept, the album feels thematically consistent in terms of its production and heavy instrumentation, as well as its fantastical lyrical subjects (see ‘Sadie Sorceress’, ‘The Garden Goblin’ and ‘The Grim Reaper’). Not every song is a masterpiece, but the sheer range of quality tracks on the record is stunning.

A particular highlight is the 7-minute-long ‘Evilest Man’, a musical oxymoron which alternates between peaceful, synth-filled verses and choruses alive with layers of shrieking guitars and a thumping bassline. The song crescendos to a riveting climax and is endlessly replayable.

Fishing for Fishies (2019)

On Fishing for Fishies, King Gizzard dive deep into blues-y music. Although dealing with a genre that can be overly prescriptive and painfully derivative, Gizz brings a freshness. The soaring guitar runs of ‘The Cruel Millennial’, the booming bassline of ‘Real’s Not Real’, the howling harmonica of ‘Boogieman Sam’ and the vocoder of ‘Cyboogie’ are all instrumental nuances which leave the songs feeling original.

The greatest tonal shift of the record arrives in the penultimate track ‘Acarine’, when its Middle-Eastern hand-drums and strings disappear, and the song morphs briefly into an electronic piece that wouldn’t feel out of place in a vaguely edgy club, or in a John Wick film.

The undeniably cute title track is perhaps the most didactic (pleading tenderly against Fishing for Fishies) and is one of the key contributors to the album’s environmental theme. Generally, though, King Gizzard excels more instrumentally than lyrically, and the same is true of this album.

Murder of the Universe (2017)

Metal meets spoken-word in this tripart album. Murder of the Universe tells three distinct sci-fi tales through three musical suites, the tracks of which act more as chapters than songs. The first of these, ‘The Tale of the Altered Beast’, describes a man who succumbs to the temptation of becoming a monster-human hybrid. The second, ‘The Lord of Lightning vs. Balrog’, describes a battle between the two beings. ‘Han-Tyumi & The Murder of the Universe’ tells the tale of a depressed cyborg who wishes to recapture his humanity by achieving two abilities a cyborg can never have –  to be able to vomit and to be able to die.

‘The Lord of Lightning’ is certainly the weakest of the three suites, but the two stories which sandwich it are genuinely engaging; amusing and disturbing in equal measure, and surprisingly difficult to put on pause. An album whose structure is entirely antithetical to our pop sensibilities would be unexpected to bear earworms, yet the odd melodic motifs of ‘The Altered Beast’ continue to crawl into the mind days after the record has ended. Murder of the Universe as a whole shows King Gizzard’s ability to craft extended and interconnected narratives; whilst the band’s lyrical concepts can often feel nonsensical or underdeveloped, this album feels like one cohesive unit.

Flying Microtonal Banana (2017)

King Gizzard refuses not only to be bound by any single genre, but also by the 12 notes of traditional Western music. Flying Microtonal Banana, as the (admittedly odd) title suggests, sees the band explore the subdivisions between traditional musical frequencies – the ‘microtones’ hiding in-between each note. King Gizzard fuses microtonal instruments with momentum-fuelled psychedelic tunes to create a constantly exciting track list that tickles the ear drums in a way that non-microtonal music would struggle to.

A dreamy atmosphere surrounds this album. Sharp, pleasantly dissonant guitars converse with each other atop a viscous layer of intricate percussion and ambient noise. Tortured howls of zurnas pierce through the soundscape while misty vocals and ambiguous lyrics paint hazy images of creatures and landscapes in the mind.

In a time when so many pronounce rock as dead, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard show us the genre is alive and well – and just as interesting as ever.

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