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Stu Mackenzie, the lead singer of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, did a great interview with Flavorwire recently, where he was asked how he would describe the band’s sound, and he had difficulty responding to the question. To him, he and his bandmates – Joe Walker, Eric Moore, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Lucas Skinner, Cook Craig, and Michael Cavanagh – do not make psychedelic nor experimental music. They don’t write rock music. They just write and make songs that are “fun”.
Mackenzie’s remarks are refreshing in an age where so many aspiring artists and musicians are imitating popular music with the hope of achieving commercial success. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, though, are anything but mainstream. They’re probably on the opposite end of what would be considered pop music, as the arrangements are often unconventional, the melodies can be straight out bizarre, and songs at times can feel like organized chaos. But through each of the eight albums they have released over the last 4+ years, there is one common theme – fun. Album number eight, Nonagon Infinity, might take the award as the band’s most rambunctious and entertaining of the bunch and definitely their most ambitious.
It’s difficult to describe exactly what is going with Nonagon Infinity. It’s loopy, trippy, and dizzying like a Frank Zappa or Flaming Lips record. It’s 40+ minutes of non-stop energy, wah-wah guitars, and otherworldly vocals a la Ty Segall. It thrashes at times with the intensity of a metal show (like on the finale “Road Trip”) but then pulsates with whirling guitars and a cosmic vibe like Thee Oh Sees (such as the blazing “Gamma Knife”).
Then lyrically, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard take us to all sorts of places – the life of a touring band on “Robot Stop” to the maniacal impulses that exists within all of us in the spacey “Wah Wah” to the intergalactic trip on the epic “Evil Death Roll”. The imagery concocted by the Melboune-based has no contemporary peers, and only David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars could compare in its imagination. It’s basically Dr. Who and the Twilight Zone combined together but made to music. If there was ever an album that took us through both the rabbit and worm holes, this would be it.
But to try to describe each song would be doing the album a disservice. Nonagon Infinity is a rarity – it is one that not only must be heard its entirety since each song seamlessly blends into the next track, but it must be played on repeat. It really doesn’t matter where you start the album . The southern-rock-influenced, psychedelic tune “Mr. Beat”, which is driven by the some great organ work, could easily have opened the album to slowly introduce the listener to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s unique world. “People-Vultures”, meanwhile, could have been the closer with its creepy tinges and critique of today’s self-centered world. In this fashion, Nonagon Infinity is like a choose-your-adventure book, where you can start with any track and pick any combination of songs and still be taken on a wild ride. The only difference is that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will take you on a mind-altering, memorable journey that never ends, making album number eight a delicious treat and one of the best albums so far of 2016.
So to summarize, Nonagon Infinity is like Dr. Who, The Twilight Zone, Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and Motorhead blended together while played in a fashion of a choose-your-own-adventure book. How could this album not be awesome?
The band is on tour now, currently traveling across North America. It will be interesting to see if the band will decide to the play the album from front to back or change the order to proof that the album can be heard in any formulation.
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