KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD
Flying Microtonal Banana (Remote Control)
Consider these assumptions with King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (or is that King Wizard & The Gizzard Lizard?) and check your own prejudices as you do so.
Take in the multiple members, on guitars, keyboards, percussion, flute, probably Theremin and mellotron, very likely flying wind machine, and did I mention flute?, and it screams out everyone-gets-a-solo free form.
Clock the extravagant hair and time-to-do-the-washing clothes, and it screams out hippie dopeheads working out who is on the choc cookie run. And you know it’s not sleepyhead over there who can’t raise his own arm.
Look up the fact they’ve released something like 261 albums in the past five years and intend releasing 78 (or at least 4) this year, that those albums have been heavy some times, trippy at others, mellow and self-referential and self-circling.
You don’t need to be Ray Hadley to know it screams out either no one to say no, or no one with a bloody job you layabouts with your midday rising and midnight breakfast cereal I’m paying for this with my taxes bring back national service.
And then there’s the names. Not just the band’s (is it Lizard Gizzard & the Wizard King?) but the album titles: I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, Paper Mache Dream Balloon, Eyes Like The Sky, Nonagon Infinity and this doozy, Flying Microtonal Banana.
I mean, really, this is exactly what the Professor – clearly the best source for any information on hallucinogenics - described in that episode of Gilligan’s Island where Maryann took some, ahem, “poisonous” mushrooms.
So, obviously this is a bit of a joke. Or an indulgence. Or both. And unlikely to sustain itself over more than one side, let alone an album, let alone two or three or 261, unless you too are partaking of the fungi.
But man if this is mushrooms I’m ordering myself a container load of shiitake or morels or whatever it is they’re boiling up at main Gizzarder Stu Mackenzie’s place.
What Flying Microtonal Banana – and I confess I just love saying that title with a Jughead-meets-Ted Logan voice – has is a fair bit of everything. Which is what makes it so entertaining.
Open Water has a power charge, a funky backbeat Clyde Stubblefield would have been happy to offer his boss James Brown, a snaking guitar line, the smell of brine, overlays of both early Pink Floyd and peak years Stone Roses, the strong suggestion of bagpipes, and seven minutes in which to say it all.
Rattlesnake doesn’t try for half that complexity. Instead it sits on a Hume Highway rhythm (a bit more stuttering than an autobahn rhythm but propulsive nonetheless, if you’re taking notes at home) for its seven minutes, says little more than “rattlesnake” and gets you into a kind of microtonal trance.
By contrast, Nuclear Fusion slows down its stride, thickens its middle and takes a semi-dozy, psych-folk route which is as much Pentangle as anything coming out of Perth, the home of Australian psychedelia. Then there’s the potential space rock of Melting that finds instead a jazzy subset with a completely straight face and a light brushing of fusion.
And I haven’t mentioned the freak scene of Doom City, which switches back and forth between Italian horror movie soundtrack, with squealing woodwind, and London’s underground “happenings” circa 1967, or the title track which takes up some Indian tones, instruments and, probably, a salwar kameez.
You could ask what does it all mean for King Gizzard (or is that King Lizard & The Wizard Gizzard?) and you would have a reasonable point. Except that there doesn’t appear to be either a grand concept as such with this, as there was with Nonagon Infinity’s circular structure, not any need for one.
The songwriting may sometimes seem more like door opening and making room for whatever comes out next, but I suspect there’s actually a fair bit of thought gone into the door, the room on the other side and the space set up for whatever comes.
Now, sit right down and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip …..