2017 Albums

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Polygondwanaland (Review)

Well, that’s a word you wouldn’t be able to say while drunk…
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are back after not releasing music in three months (that’s actually a long time in King Gizzard world…) Polygondwanaland is a mouthful, but physically and mentally, it’s some of King Gizzard’s best work. With already releasing three albums this year, it still surprises me of how many songs they must have in their back catalog. They’ve promised to release five albums this year, and my god, I actually believe them now.

“King Gizzard” released this album on the 17th November with the description; “This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Makes tapes, make CDS, make records.” Is this a statement? Are the lads after something? Or are they literally just being kind? But on a serious note what the lads are trying to do is to try to engage with music in a “different” way. When I heard that they were releasing an album for free and for everybody to have, there was a little bit of doubt in me. Is this album going to be as good as their other stuff or just plain bad? Well… it’s bloody brilliant. I really look up to King Gizzard for doing this because it’s different and in a way, a lovely gesture, but obviously this review isn’t on that concept of the album, it’s about the MUSIC itself. It’s weird cause you’d think as it’s their 12th studio album that they’ve released, they’ve probably showcased their best stuff by now, but King Gizzard just keep surprising everyone with fresh new brilliant songs.
Do they have the “Pick of Destiny” that Tenacious D had to write their masterpieces in the hit film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny? Who knows, but I don’t care, King Gizzard are incredible (and I’d love for them to make a film.)

We kick off the album with “Crumbling Castle” which takes us on a psychedelic trip through its concept of, well, a castle crumbling. You can actually see a castle on their album cover of “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” but the castle isn’t crumbling. The production of this song is right up in your face. The bass and drums tick away to give this really weird psychedelic fuzz. This experimental song feels like it’s just gonna end every 2 minutes but they keep building it up again and again. It gets to a part where it’s at its peak (8.54) with the bass fully driving the song… this is definitely a proper head banging moment. As all the instruments basically die at 9.05 to this weird sounding Black Sabbath part which is heavy and dark. King Gizzard are definitely on drugs. How do humans write this sort of music? It’s genius.

The title track “Polygondwanaland” is harmonically clever and catchy. The word “Polygondwanaland” isn’t as hard to say as it seems actually. We are taking into the world of Polygondwanaland which is mystical and psychedelic. This song actually reminds me a bit of Tenacious D again when JB “travels” to the land of the Sasquatch, but obviously this song is a bit more serious than that. They even use a lovely acoustic guitar solo accompanied by a flute. Polygondwanaland feels like a real place. I want to go!

“The Castle in the Air” is introduced through spoken word by Leah Senior who featured on the King Gizzard album “Murder of the Universe.”

“The river opened her mouth and spat into a vast sea larger and bluer than a cloudless sky. Muscular, prodigious, immortal. But our vessel was invulnerable. It was well-built, the boat rocked me into sleep and I floated through a deep dream, smooth sailing through the castle in the air.”

Having spoken word in a song really stands out to me because it gives off a more serious feel for the song even though sometimes you can’t take King Gizzard seriously. The name of the track could be a reference to the book “Gulliver’s Travels” where the main protagonist travels around the globe and comes across a land called “Laputa” which is a flying island. The song itself is very 70’s progressive rock sounding, we could even compare it to the likes of “King Crimson” and “Gentle Giant.” It’s a short song for King Gizzard but it still has a strong effect like the long songs too. 

“Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet” gives off the same vibes as the previous songs on the album, as it feels like this song ties everything together. It’s basically all the parts put together to create this weird sound. They even use clever harmonies in this. It’s a passing song to help our journey through the worlds that King Gizzard are taking us through. Not a personal favourite of mine, but still a strong song.

Next up we have “Inner Cell” and it’s great. It’s eastern influenced and used some really clever notes. King Gizzard are influenced by pretty much everything and I really admire any musician/artists who are open to all influences. There really is hope for music when bands release music like this. It’s guitar, bass, drums and vocal music, so everybody’s happy. There’s a lot of bands out their that make me stoop and think “how do they compose music like this?” and King Gizzard may even be the top of that list.

“Loyalty” starts with a Jean-Michel Jarre kind of synth sound which is very 80’s and it’s even a bit Stranger Things sounding which is very “hip” at the moment. The song seems to be about a god whose people” stop believing in him and he starts getting a bit upset. As the song goes on, the god starts killing off his “people” and it also seems that this “god” guy loves himself and thinks he’s the best. The lyrics are scary with the lyric “I will drink their blood” being a very prominent part of the song. With all this points, it’s strange because the song is groovy in a way that it’s hard to dance too. You don’t really want to dance to it because the song lyrics are uncomfortable, but at the same time you’re aching to dance to it. When the bass goes to the octave notes, it’s harmonically impressive. This song kind of reminds me of the early days of Pink Floyd; it’s very “Syd Barrett” weird.

The study and measurement of time is “Horology.” The song is progressive which is funny, because progressive music can be determined through the time signatures played. I find this song progressive with how the singers are voicing their emotions in a rhythmical way. Fun song.

“Tetrachromacy” is the beginning of seeing a fourth colour whereas a normal human would see up to three standard colours. I read into tetrachromacy while writing this few to try to understand it more and it just made me so confused (not very hard.) The guys of King Gizzard are so clever to just even THINK of writing a song about tetrachromacy, seriously what goes through their heads when they want to write a song/concept album, it’s absolutely crazy!

“Searching” introduces the character who wants to see the invisible. This song is linked with the previous, it’s a stepping stone to try to find the “fourth colour.” Even though the concept of the song is searching for the “fourth colour,” you could interpret this song to be about “searching” for something that you’ve longed for. This is probably my least favourite song on the album, but without this song, the concept of the last three songs wouldn’t work.

The last song of the ten track album is “The Fourth Colour.” This song takes us back to King Gizzard’s true sound – fast, experimental and fun music. The Fourth Colour seems to be about finally having the ability to see a “fourth colour” unlike humans who typically view the world in three colours as I said before. This song makes the audience believe that the person who’s seeing the fourth colour has unlocked a some sort of new power. The chords used in his song are upbeat and creative. As we reach the 4 minute mark, we get a weird sounding Mongolian throat singing part/humming noise which is really trippy with backing noises of what seems to be “wind” until that stops. The drums come rolling in with a drum fill, then the guitars start roaring in and we’re fully back into the song. What a song to finish the album off.

Imagine King Gizzard writing a sad/slow/4 chord song … yeah, I can’t imagine that either. Overall, really great album by King Gizzard once again

Produced by Stu Mackenzie.
Score – 8/10
Favourite Tracks – Crumbling Castle, Polygondwanaland, The Castle in the Air, Inner Cell, Loyalty, Tetrachromacy, The Fourth Colour

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