On friday, prominent Aussie psych rockers, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard released their brand new album ‘Polygondwanaland’. This would be the bands 4th release of the year and it does not fail to impress.
Time to delve deep into this anticipated record.
The beginning of the album features the 10 minute long epic ‘Crumbing Castle’ with its haunting vocals an almost mythological approach to both sound and vocals, with the creepy almost worship like backing vocals which appear around the 3 minute 50 second mark of the track. When we arrive at around 8 minutes, the track transforms with the use of that prominent (stranger things esque) synth which flows through the album without a fault. The addition of the screeching harmonicas and the pounding drums make this one of King Gizzards best tracks to date.
The title track is an uplifting glide which also carries on that mythological feel of the first track on the record. You feel directly implemented into this mythical, time swallowing land and are placed into the heart of it all. It’s a soothing psychedelic adventure into that lost before time land. ‘The Castle In The Air’ invites back the voiceovers that were heard in the bands second album of the year ‘Murder Of The Universe”…
“The river opened her mouth and spat into a vast sea larger and bluer than a cloudless sky. Muscular, prodigious, immortal. But our vessel was invulnerable. It was well built, the boat rocked me into sleep and i floated through a deep dream, smooth sailing through the castle in the air”
The track is an almost speed up version of the track that comes before. The return of the subtle, yet detailed harmonica which was so prominent on the bands 2016 album, ‘Nonagon Infinity’ adds depth and characterises the sound even further.
Before the track is even over, we are welcomed to ‘Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet’, which blends in the continuous feel of Nonagon and implements it into the mythical approach of ‘Polygondwanaland’. The increase in tempo, mixed with the reoccurring synth makes this one of the best tracks on the record with its blend of synth and deepened sound.
‘Inner Cell’ has Stu singing in a melodic approach, whilst the lyrics doing the complete opposite, as he sings about dark and mysterious happenings within ‘Polygondwanaland’. “From under the skin, the flesh has rotted. Poison has spread, through words unsaid. Anaemic rule, now hear me say our time has come”. The poison that Stu Mackenzie talks about, could reference the narrator of the album growing weak and old, the poison being his age which he has no control over, leading to his demise. This lyric references the old man who can be seen trapped in a cage on the album artwork.
‘Loyalty’ is a deeply satisfying track. With Stu’s vocals turning much calmer, and the bass becoming extremely prominent throughout the track, the powers are almost shifted as the bass and drums take a standing lead. The return of the fan favourite flute partners Stu’s vocals, “wheres the loyalty?”. The song transitions into ‘Horology”, another number that adds in the use of the prominent synth, and the melodic flute alongside Stu’s dark and mysterious vocals.
The depth of ‘Loyalty’ doesn’t end there. The narrator (Stu in this case), turns sour when he says “I will draw and quarter all the children, to prove I’m not a coward”. This can link to the repeated lyrics at the end of the track “wheres the loyalty”. Both these lyrics suggest that the possible leader is losing the trust of the group, asking for his loyalty and treating to “draw and quarter the children”, yet this is a sign of being a coward. The narrator or leader has contradicted himself, as killing children is a sign of being a coward, and therefore he is loosing more trust from his group.
‘Horology’, entices you in straight from the get go with a pulsating synth and melodic electric guitar which flows in and out of the track, as well as a flange esque synth merging into a beautiful and tranquil (what appears to be) flute. The blend of electric, modified sounds and acoustic instruments creates a compelling track filled to the brim with succulent sounds. “Lift the veil from your eyes and see past the three” references the final track ‘The fourth Colour’… the bands attempts of discovering that elusive colour. The last lyric of the track “its Tetrachromacy”. Tetrachromacy is the ability to see a ‘fourth colour’ so to speak. Tetrachmonacy is found among several species of birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and insects, with scorpions (scorpions are tetrachromats) the oldest known animal on the continent of ‘Gondwana’, which is where the album title is inspired by. (my mind is frazzled at this point)
The next track (would you believe it) is entitled ‘Tetrachromacy’, where the narrator and lyrics are on the hunt to find the fourth colour. The lyric “Some of the snow absorbs UV” can be used as a reference to Scorpions, even though they are not mentioned within the lyrics of any track, as scorpions absorb UV light and glow under its rays. (mental… I know). The music of this track, entails the return of the harmonica which fits beautifully at the end of the track, giving possible hints of the direction of the record musically. The sinister approach of the last verse gives a nod back to ‘Nonagon Infinity’, ‘Flying microtonal banana’ and ‘Murder of the Universe’ as well as ‘Crumbling Castle’.
The second to last track ‘Searching…’ almost seems tribal, with the use of the tom-tom sounding drums giving off a hypnotising vibe, tying in with the trip and delusional vocals. The altered change in tempo adds to the sense of tripping out, and seeking the one thing you need… and in this case, it’s the fourth colour. “I want to see the world differently…” croons Mackenzie.
‘The Fourth Colour’ is the final and epic conclusion to the album. The continuation of sound at the beginning of the track is a fast paced, ride of euphoria, suggesting the discovery of ‘The Fourth Colour’. “I see the fourth colour!”.
The break of silence is greeted prior with the lyrics I’m back to birth
I see the light, It’s in my face, I analyze information, Now I am a god” which is spoken in an almost Han-Tyumi state, the cyborg which features on the final third of ‘Murder Of The Universe’. When the primeval drums kick back in, out of nowhere a rush of energy and craze in instituted into the track. The harmonica, backed with thrashing guitars takes the song to another level, with a ‘Nonagon Infinity’ approach to conclude possibly the best concept album i have ever listened to.
The album in a nutshell, is a layered, detailed and completely, a very well produced record with its deeply textured lyrics which tell more than just words on a page, but a story. The beats and complex arrangements also add to the death and quality of an album which easily includes some of the best material the band have written. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a cryptic revolution of sound and lyrics.
Words by Piran Aston