If the name wasn’t enough to manage on its own, this year King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have released four distinctly different records, with Polygondwanaland being the most recent. Despite this unusually high output, this last release of the year from the Australian group displays them at their most thought-provoking and instrumentally obscure best.
The record leads the listener into a world in which the narrator’s quest is to find a supposed super-continent where no one has ever been before, under the backdrop of nature taking over mankind’s superiority in the word. It’s not your standard theme for an album but it’s definitely unique.
Psychedelia is a broad concept that can fit neatly into each artistic form. When done well, it has the potential to create a temporary perceptual distortion and expand the consciousness of the audience, leaving them to enjoy the work on a heightened level. The problem with this exuberant definition is that it gives unoriginal bands a scene to link themselves onto; when in reality their only resemblance is a Mandala sheet hung up in their practice room and a passing interest in an obscure Jefferson Airplane album. Luckily, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are one of the few acts that truly fit the description and this LP perfectly exemplifies this.
The septet are full of contradictions – the name, the song titles, the album artwork, the releases – almost everything concerning the band indicates that they are conducting their entire music career on impulse and not to be taken too seriously. However, Polygondwanaland is full to the brim with well-crafted, intelligent recordings.
The epic ‘Crumbling Castle’ spans ten minutes and details the uncertain fate of a group of observers within a citadel who are preparing for the end times at the hand of a rising ocean. A catchy acoustic guitar solo and flute then flows the record into the next track ‘The Castle in The Air’ with its pulsating synthetics and intricate guitar picking.
‘Inner Cell‘, meanwhile, sees them venture into electro-rock territory and frontman Stu Mackenzie delivers staccato vocals before ‘Loyalty‘ and ‘Horology’ takes you on a psych pilgrimage. The double drumming then comes to the fore in ‘Tetrachromacy’ as the LP changes gears before the album closes with the hypnotic ‘Searching…’ and trippy ‘The Fourth Colour’.
Polygondwanaland sees King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard throwing conventions out of the window in what is a mesmerising forward progression for the band. They may be absurd and genius in equal measure, but they’re also one of rock music’s most thought-provoking and fun bands and this record is proof of this.