Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed, genre-defying Aussie psych rock and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard — Stu Mackenzie (vocals/guitar), Ambrose Kenny-Smith (harmonica/vocals/keyboards), Cook Craig (guitar/vocals), Joey Walker (guitar/vocals), Lucas Skinner (bass) and Michael Cavanagh (drums) – have a long-held reputation for being a wildly prolific and restlessly experimental act that has released across a wide array of genres and styles including psych rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, thrash punk, prog rock and even Turkish pop.
Last year’s K.G. was the Aussie JOVM mainstays 16th album. Written and recorded remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the album’s songs were pieced together and given space to breathe, which resulted in the music being freer than any of their predecessors. Interestingly, K.G.‘s material can trace some of its origins back to the band’s acclaimed 2017 effort Flying Microtonal Banana, the first of five albums released that year. FMB was written and recorded using a Turkish-inspired microtonal scale that required quarter tone tunings — and custom made instruments for the occasion. Featuring live favorites like “Rattlesnake,” “Sleep Drifter,” “Nuclear Fusion” and “Billabong Valley,” Flying Microtonal Banana managed to reveal a band that was willing to paint from a palette that extended past the prototypical Western musical sounds and tones.
“FMB was one of the purest and most enjoyable recording experiences we’ve had, and the ideas just kept coming” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Stu Mackenzie said in press notes. ” “But we didn’t think we would play it live as the music dictated a new medium that requires different instruments, new flight cases and so. It was a liberating studio-based experiment which surprisingly translated seamlessly and spawned some of favourite songs to play live.” Last year’s K.G. found the Aussie JOVM mainstays returning to the microtonal scales and tunings of Flying Microtonal Banana, cherry picking the best aspects of their previously released work and then contorting them into completely new shapes with non-Western scales.
Continuing upon their long-held reputation for being prolific, King Gizzard has released has managed to released new material, spurring speculation over when their 17th album will be released. (According to the band’s Stu Mackenzie, it definitely won’t be next month.) But in the meantime, the JOVM mainstays have released a new single “O.N.E.” Beginning with a dreamy and shimmering lullaby introduction, the song quickly morphs into a muscular strut centered around shimmering organ arpeggios, shimmering sitar-like microtonal guitar, propulsive polyrhythm and a blazing guitar solo. Sonically, it’s a feverish yet completely coherent synthesis of Flying Microtonal Banana, Infest the Rats Nest and countless others.
Thematically speaking, the song evokes the nightmarish uncertainty and fear of our current moment — including the seemingly unending death and extinctino, poverty, division, pollution that we’ve brought on to ourselves and the world. But unlike the seething frustration of Infest the Rats’ Nest, there’s a weary and exhausted frustration that seems to say “well, let’s get on with it, eh?”
“The song itself feels as if it’s constantly moving along so I tried to keep the visuals continually moving forward and sliding into different visual styles and landscapes,”Alex McLaren explains in press notes. “I felt the mix of stop motion and collage through the use of found imagery and the band would help compliment the tracks lyrics and themes as I interpreted them, of dreams, nightmares, climate change, dystopias, and utopias, as well as referencing events that took place during the making of the video over 2020. All video of the band was shot by Ambrose during the second lockdown restrictions and I had to give notes on shooting and direct remotely which was strange but so was everything during that period.”