‘Polygondwanaland’ is the fourth album released this year by Australian psychedelic rock act King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Following up ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’, ‘Murder of the Universe’ and collaboration with Mild High Club ‘Sketches of Brunswick East’, you could argue this new album is actually quite conventional by King Gizzard standards. Still far-out, still extravagant, but it’s been a year of microtone experimentation, fantasy-focussed triple projects, and kooky song suites for the band, and while ‘Polygondwanaland’ has medieval width, and segueing themes, the most glaringly eccentric thing about it might be its title.
King Gizzard continue to gift the world with some of the most astonishing psychedelic garage rock, with muscular guitars, the occasional ‘60s hippy flute, and some truly bitching drum performances. This isn’t really any different to previous albums, particularly ones released this year, in fact ‘Murder of the Universe’ was so intentionally repetitive that the emphasis had to be placed on the band’s level of performance. But yes, the rhythm and the rock are solid throughout, so let’s take a look at the structures and subjects themselves.
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‘Crumbling Castle’ is a true powerhouse of a song, following up the many complex belters of ‘Murder of the Universe’, and repeating the hook-driven virtue of ‘Rattlesnake’ from ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’. The song is over ten minutes long, and keeps coming back to the mighty, nasty, vicious chorus of “I don’t want to be a crumbling, crumbling, crumbling castle”. It’s amazing how the song ends on a distorted guitar note sliding and fuzzing, as if it’s the music equivalent of a crumbling castle.
The title track, through to ‘Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet’ act as a short suite, and fan’s of the band’s 2017 releases will be happy to hear the return of the vacant, femme-Aussie spoken word vocals on ‘The Castle in the Air’. It’s not the most interesting or dynamic of suites, but the structure is solid, it’s vintage Gizzard. The next true highlights come in the forms of ‘Inner Cell’ and ‘Horology’, with the former having one of the most beautifully unnerving choruses on the album, singing “from under the skin, insurrection, from hollow logs, and shallow streams, from drying seas”.
There isn’t much else that’ll make big Gizzard fans salivate, at least not until the very end of ‘The Fourth Colour’, when the instrumentation kicks back in, and it kicks with a boot made of electricity. At the very least, it’s another smash from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, they’ve had one hell of a 2017, and this album has confirmed just that. And guess what? It’s in the public domain!
‘Polygondwanaland’ is out now via Heavenly Recordings