Review Summary: Fin.
Somewhere, one day, seven Australians who were clearly bored with the state of their recording process decided it’d be a worthwhile endeavour to write, record, and release five albums in the space of a single year. Identifying nationality might have served no purpose other than to further the eclectic image the Aussie populus might wear to the rest of the world but there’s something intrinsically bizarre about such a project as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s one-year spectacle (name aside) spawning forth from Geelong, Deniliquin, and Melbourne. These seven Australian locals have been up and at it since their school days; abstract tinkering and child-like wonder was never out of reach and remains a core tenet of their musical foundation, 13 LPs in. And while Gumboot Soup
doesn’t directly exude Aussie pride and vigour, it most certainly gives this series an admirable send-off through its documentation of both a 2017 power-trip, and one of Australia’s most diverse discographies.
Undergoing the task of recapping four records within a single album and still presenting something a tad detached from its individual components would be nigh impossible to do with any sense of grace. Rather than opting to meet a compromise, King Gizzard decided to completely abandon a solid thematic tie and just throw together this half-way tribute to their own output with complete disregard to concept. While a daring move in the face of the last four records, it actually works fantastically in the band’s favour. Almost like a best-of compilation, Gumboot Soup
draws in the highlights of their forays into askew melodicism with “Flying Microtonal Banana”. The tribal and thunderous tone of “Murder Of The Universe” is given time to shine. There is no shying away from the subdued shades of “Sketches Of Brunswick East” and progressive tendencies found in “Polygondwanaland”. If Gumboot Soup
itself could be found to favour a sonic tone that wasn’t contained within those making a reappearance, it’d be a stronger emphasis on the psychedelic. While the proggy, psychedelic garage rock amalgam hasn’t been entirely absent from any releases within 2017, opener “Beginner’s Luck” is brimming with hazy and homely aura. This bass-driven ballad isn’t at all indicative of what is to come, nor could it be. It is, however, a gorgeous little ditty underpinned by something bittersweet. The beginning of the end, in a sense.
Whimsical desert grooves and tunefully microtonal riffery power “Greenhouse Heat Death” and “All Is Known”. Occasional horns or synth textures are spritzed over some aptly dry and crunching guitar work while the bass goes ham, lurching both tracks into furious sprints. Done and dusted. Flying Microtonal Banana’s
key contributions sorted. Over on the other end of the spectrum, “Superposition” acts as a kaleidoscopic trip into the world of progressive elevator music: Sketches Of Brunswick East
-esque timbre gives the album a little space to cool off before a bout of angular rhythm tomfoolery in follow-up track, “Down The Sink”. It borrows from the percussive, low-end antics of Polygondwanaland
from start to finish before sailing out on a wave of squealing noise. Every track between the opener and closer has almost a direct comparison point and while the likes of “The Great Chain Of Being” manage to pull just as much from the sludgier aggressions of Murder Of The Universe
as they do earlier releases in the band’s discography, every second just reeks of early-onset nostalgia. Lyrical composition, vocal performance, instrumentation, everything evolves and warps to hark back.
It isn’t until closer “The Wheel” that the emphasis switches back to a tone that is considerably less aligned with 2017. Accented by a cascading, jazzy momentum, the track’s only strong point of comparison from this year would be with album opener, “Beginner’s Guide”. It is similarly bittersweet, if not more melancholic than hopeful, but the hazy aura returns in full force. I can’t justify pinning this down as a reflection of the band’s own uncertainty for the future; King Gizzard have sealed themselves in the history books with these five releases. For better or for worse, this burst-fire outing will be remembered, and if any band had the ability to continue onward confidently after such an intense musical delivery, it’d be this Australian powerhouse. Gumboot Soup
isn’t half as inventive or experimental as its predecessors. Maybe it doesn’t have to be. King Gizzard have opted to close this saga with a surge of familiarity and I wouldn’t have it any other way.