Comprised of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, and flute), Ambrose Kenny Smith (synths, harmonica), Cook Craig (guitar), Joey Walker (guitar), Lucas Skinner (bass), Eric Moore (drums) and Michael Cavanagh (drums), the Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock sextet King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have developed a reputation for energetic live shows, for being remarkably prolific, as they’ve released 9 full-length albums since 2012 with each album revealing a band that relentlessly experimented with its sound and songwriting approach. In fact, the band’s early releases blended 60s surf rock, garage rock and psych rock but over the years, their sound has included elements of film scores, prog rock, folk, soul, Krautrock and heavy metal.
The Australian sextet’s recently released full-length effort Flying Microtonal Banana will further cement the band’s reputation for being incredibly prolific and restlessly experimental as the material on the album is reportedly a subtle shift in the sound of 2016’s Nonagon Infinity as the material finds the and delving deeper into trace-inducing drone, jazz flourishes and non-Western musical scales and metronomic rhythms — and in fact, the sound is so unique and evolved that it required the members of the band to reinvent their own instruments after they began experimenting with a custom microtonal guitar, made for the band’s frontman Stu Mackenzie. As the story goes, the members of the band found inspiration from the movable frets of a Turkish instrument, the bağlama, a classical lute, and three old guitars and a bass were customized for the band to explore a new set of musical notes. They then customized a keyboard and a mouth organ. Additionally, the material on the album finds the and incorporating the use of a Turkish horn called a zurna, which looks a bit like a clarinet but because it’s a double-reeded instrument, the possess a wobbly sound that Mackenzie says “blends perfectly with the secret notes on the guitar.”
Flying Microtonal Banana’s latest single “Rattlesnake” pairs a chugging, motorik-like groove and anthemic, chant-worthy hook; but while clearly drawing from prog rock, Krautrock, psych rock, heavy psych, stoner rock and even space rock, the song finds the band putting a familiar Western sound into a decidedly Eastern context — and as a result, it’s not only a wild, mind-altering spin on something familiar and seemingly done to death and then some, while possessing a familiar acid-tinged yet alien, otherworldly sound.
The recently released music video for “Rattlesnake” is both deliriously psychedelic and gloriously low budget, and fittingly draws from the early music videos from the early 1960s and 1970s.