King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard
, June 10th, 2015 11:26
There seems to be nothing that can stop Australian psychedelic garage rumbling on through the wilderness, passing the fresh corpses of surf-revival and afropop as it mindlessly motors towards fresh pastures of druggy fuzz and fuzzy drugs. The slowly shifting sands of the Oceanic music scene have proved to be a fertile ground for both the bizarre and the thunderous: the legacy of AC/DC and Wolfmother informing the unique incarnation of stoner rock masterminded by Kevin Parker and expanded on by Pond, Courtney Bartnett and The Laurels. But if there was one band that could sum up the sheer freewheeling joy of the genre, it would have to be the peerlessly titled King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard.
Since Tame Impala gave them an excuse, the unhinged Melbourne group (led by Stu Mackenzie) have been ramming as many textures, ideas and motifs into their bizarrely catchy wig-outs as is humanly decent, then adding a few hefty slabs of meat on top. Last year's magnetic I'm In Your Mind Fuzz (which included tracks 'I'm In Your Mind', 'I'm Not In Your Mind' and 'I'm In Your Mind Fuzz') contained all the kitchen sink-throwing of Dexys Midnight Runners trapped inside INXS's coke closet with a dozen feral owls. But Mind was, by King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard standards, fairly succinct and to the point. Quarters!, on the other hand, is a lumbering oil tanker of an album featuring just four ten minute and ten second long songs (making each song, yes, an exact quarter of the album) allowing Mackenzie and co. to give themselves open road to accelerate their insanity to full capacity.
But despite this room for wild experimentalism Quarters! is also the band's most accessible album to date; you could play it to your grandmother without her spitting gin in your eyes (don't try this with 12 Bar Bruise). The first track to stagger out of the gates is the gently blossoming 'The River', which can be broadly split into three movements. Movement one splices Pentagle-style medieval folk meandering over a strangely appropriate jazz shuffle, the rambling combination sounding suitably like a babbling brook. Movement two introduces a throb to the duel drums that wouldn't sound out of place on a Battles EP, before returning to the main motif and fading out. Then comes the payoff: western-wrought harmonica over movement three's pleasingly stoned guitars until the track burns itself out.
Buoyed up by the prayers of a thousand Aussie hippies, the spaghetti harmonica returns time and again over the course of the album, weaving through the farmyard antics of 'Infinite Rise' and the Unknown Mortal Orchestra-esque mellow jam 'God Is In The Rhythm'. All three guitarists have their amps set to full wooze, especially when they try out Mac DeMarco's supplier on gooey final song 'Lonely Steel Sheet Flyer', which can only be described as a song to dream to. The lyrics of the album (when audible) are largely concerned with the mechanisms of nature and the constant movement of the world, fitting the fluid flow of the album as a whole and complementing the obviously organic writing process.
Quarters! feels like what it presumably is: the end result of a long drug-fuelled jam session to soundtrack the astral meanderings of the mind. However, in creating something so embedded in stream-of-consciousness, the band have lost a part of the manic intensity that made I'm In Your Mind Fuzz such an unpredictable rollercoaster of a record. This in an album that caters to the listeners' self-indulgence rather than arresting their attention, which is a shame. But is what you've really been seeking all these years is Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain on wax, look no further.