Review Summary: the universe hath been brought to its knees. drop some acid and dance!
King Gizz treat the making of scuzzy, acid-rock tunes like a nine-to-five; one where the co-workers are outwardly insane, the coffee is spiked with codeine, and the boss? The boss is a stranger.
I don’t think this band has ever just decided to write a song. Instead, I imagine them on a constant, semi-conscious plane, layering disparate ideas over each other until they’ve stitched together a sprawling collage of spaced-out vignettes. Actually, this record is a lot like the film Enter The Void, and – for reasons unbeknownst to me - I am blacking out for minutes at a time. Every time I come to, I am dropped in the middle of a song I don’t understand. I can’t do anything about it, either, these songs actively work against our comprehension; jumping around just outside arms reach with a Cheshire cat grin.
When the record lets me get close, this is what I’m able to gather:
Murder of the Universe
is what would happen if Fitter, Happier
dropped its faux-optimism and spilled its blood and guts all over the pavement. The voices at its centre are sometimes more omnipotent than any idea of a God, and sometimes frail excuses for beings, shitting and vomiting all over themselves as they collapse under the weight of the world. Irrespective of how big they make themselves seem, though, they are always imparting an unequivocally fucked up version of the future. If Flying Microtonal Banana
was the band experimenting with a live-wire playfulness, this record is the same experiment – flipped on its back, demented and prone to spontaneously exploding.
I also allow, perhaps most importantly, how readily King Gizzard have acquiesced to their own deranged vision. This record uses language in a way that rejects the need for post hoc
ideals – a series of malevolent non-sequiturs less concerned with telling a story and more concerned with jump scares and dystopian rhetoric. The eschewal of a concrete narrative finds us passing into a hallway that extends the further we walk, and so we are as disoriented as we are panicked during side one (i.e. very
). There is a beast in this hallway – its movements charted by a girl (one of the voices, small and not small, innocent and unspeakably violent), acidic guitar leads and general paranoia. It is the quintessence of King Gizzard, as narrated by the cruelest of juxtapositions.
I wake up again in time for side two to begin with Some Context
, which isn’t really context at all; but the chirping of birds. Is this record as confused as I am? Maybe, but it’s more likely that this bitter amalgam of noise is playing somewhere of to the side while those birds circle and peck at the dead. Context: everything’s gone to shit, and I don’t think those Lord of the Rings metaphors are metaphors. By The Acrid Corpse
, the night has no moon and the music skips across scorched earth towards a future that no one asked for.
, the first real glimpse at the future espoused in side three, is a distillation of the future that sounds awful similar to the past. It’s a screaming, twitching thing; sprinting head-first to its end in the same way that many a King Gizz song has before it: with a vocal melody that mimics the guitar riff. This style, frankly, is nauseating – a cluster of manic strobe lights insensitive to the weak and the drunk and the naïve. It’s like the band are sat on the wrong side of the apocalypse and the only thing they have left to cling to is a single idea. They run it into the ground before they are run into the ground themselves.
The only thing I really
know for sure when it comes to Murder of the Universe
is that this is psych-rock at its most nihilistic. The end is not a monumental event but a logical next step – as inconsequential as the flick of a light-switch, and very much the same in essence. I commend this: the fact that King Gizzard can seem to search for meaning in what's here
before revealing themselves from a thousand feet away. It’s how they can chip away at their brand of psychedelia while the universe combusts and not bat an eye. In this, the record is a tenebrous one – foreboding, as if the band were scraping the bottom of the barrel and somehow hit the entire universe; as if the music itself is the “spilt milk over the milky way”
that Han-Tyumi illustrates in the title track.
At least, this is what I can gather when I'm lucid. For the most part, my mind is as blank and inscrutable as the Digital Black when listening to this album, and 100% more brittle.