Review Summary: "I want to see the world differently"
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s music is, in short, incredibly outlandish. The Australian psychedelic-rock group, under the direction of Stu Mackenzie, prides themselves in 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.
I have a suspicion that Gizzard’s albums are more to them than mere music. Instead, the group seems to build their existence around densely constructed world’s which in turn, inspire 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 King Gizzard’s musical existence is in no way one of convention.
leads listeners to envision its narrator’s quest to find an elusive supercontinent in which man has never ventured. The album commences with the demise of mankind’s influence over nature as it’s structures are sent into the sea in the epic “Crumbling Castle.” The track 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. As the castle crumbles in this great destruction, what is left behind is this natural world of Polygondwanaland. 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 King 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 works that resonates deeply with fans of that era.
The thematic highlight of Polygondwanaland
announces itself in the album’s final suite of songs, that 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 god-like 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.
Yes, I know that music detailing ascension into a god by being able to perceive unknown colors sounds certifiably insane, and I wouldn’t argue with you. 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.