Story by Hayden Goodridge / Contributing Writer
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s music is, in short, incredibly outlandish. The Australian psychedelic-rock group under the direction of Stu Mackenzie prides itself on crafting extravagant albums that explore the strangest dimensions of the universe. In this year alone, the group has released four distinctly different projects, with “Polygondwanaland” being the most recent. But despite this unusually high output of music, this latest release displays Gizzard’s most thought-provoking themes alongside an immaculate level of oddball instrumentation.
Gizzard’s albums are more than mere music. Instead, the group seems to build their existence around densely constructed worlds, which in turn inspires whatever type of music materializes from within. The band’s constant use of polyrhythmic structures and unconventional instrumentation, such as flutes and modulated keyboards, appear as elemental pieces of these fabricated worlds. It’s an odd notion, but Gizzard’s musical existence is in no way one of convention.
“Polygondwanaland” leads listeners to envision its narrator’s quest to find an elusive supercontinent to which man has never ventured. The album commences with the demise of mankind’s influence over nature as its structures are sent into the sea in the epic “Crumbling Castle.” The track spans 10 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. As the castle crumbles in this great destruction, Polygondwanaland is left behind. In the whimsical, freely flowing title track, the group lays out their intention to explore this land with “We’re gonna get there / follow where the river runs.” A melodic acoustic guitar solo with a shimmering flute to accompany it leads seamlessly into the next song, “The Castle in The Air.”
The track enters with a female voice narrating, “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.”
Songs like “Castle in The Air” are prime examples of Gizzard’s illustrative storytelling abilities. The group has an innate craft in depicting an immersive world that draws listeners in with the grace of a skilled fantasy author. By drawing heavily from ’70s progressive rock legends like Rush, King Crimson and Yes, Gizzard brings an air of nostalgia to their work that resonates deeply with fans of that era.
The thematic highlight of “Polygondwanaland” announces itself in the album’s final suite of songs, which begins with “Tetrachromacy.” The idea of Tetrachromacy is described in the song as “…the inverse of colorblindness,” in which a gifted individual would have the ability to sense a fourth unknown color in addition to the blends of three that typical humans can observe. The narrator’s “lust to see the invisible” allows him to transcend into a godlike being on the album’s epic closing track, “The Fourth Color.” As the narrator discovers his true power, the song swells into a climatic finish of unhinged drums and overdriven guitar leads.
Music detailing ascension into a god by being able to perceive unknown colors may sound certifiably insane. However, it’s somewhere in the creative space between absurdity and musical ingenuity that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard occupies, and if this insanity allows for the conception of hilariously fantastical albums like “Polygondwanaland,” then maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.