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 restlessly prolific, the acclaimed Aussie JOVM mainstays’ 17th album L.W. is simultaneously the very direct, highly-anticipated follow-up to last year’s K.G. and the third volume of the band’s explorations into microtonal tunings. The band has woven narratives across both releases: L.W. ends with the same track that opens K.G (K.G.L.W. after all).
Last month, I wrote about L.W. single “O.N.E.,” a feverish yet coherent synthesis of Flying Microtonal Banana and Infest the Rats Nest that begins with a dreamy lullaby-like introduction before morphing into a muscular strut featuring shimmering, sitar-like microtonal guitar, propulsive polyrhythm, glistening organ arpeggios and a blazing guitar solo. L.W.‘s latest single Pleura is a labyrinthine and trippy bit of microtonal shredding, rolling polyrhythm, fluttering flute and howled vocals within a dense mix that reveals surprises and hidden layers upon repeated listens.
Directed by John Angus Stewart, who helmed the band’s 2020 concert film Chunky Shrapnel, the recently released video for “Pleura” is a live performance filmed at the band’s studio. Split into a Brady Bunch-styled split screen with a separate window for each band member, the video is an innate and raw document of live music that purposefully doesn’t rely on editing.
“I think a true document of live music shouldn’t rely entirely on editing,” Stewart says. “There is something that happens with the way we perceive images, if something “live” is too produced, your mind sort of loses interest. With this format, we wanted to leave the editing up to the viewer. The decision of who to look at, and at what time determines each individual viewing experience. With each watch your experience will be completely different, which mirrors Gizzard’s experience playing the song live. The process is the same, yet the result is different.”