Named after a yellow guitar that looks a bit like a Gibson Flying V but is built to play microtones, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s first album – of five – of 2017, Flying Microtonal Banana, is another wild mind trip from the Australian psychedelic workhorses.
Beginning with the sound of wind across the desert, “Rattlesnake” is over seven minutes of toe-tapping, head-nodding, mind-altering psychedelia. The beat is venomous and the microtonal guitar work in the last third of it is great. It flows straight into “Melting” (a song about the damage we’re doing to the environment), which your mind might already be doing by this point. The dual drumming is hypnotic, as is the bass line, organ, and the near-lounge jazz sound of the whole track. The sound of ocean waves keeps you drifting on “Open Water,” and the surf guitar certainly helps. Could it be another environmental warning about all of us living in a water world after the ice caps melt (as mentioned in the previous track)? The microtonal guitars on it are like something you’d hear in a Marrakesh bazaar.
“Sleep Drifter” almost sounds like a slower version of “Rattlesnake” at first, but it’s about sleeping and dreaming with a loved one instead of a song about a wise animal / Midgard serpent. The track gets into a sweet rock groove by the end (love the harmonica and that porn guitar!). “Billabong Valley” is another microtonal freak-out as we hear about an outlaw who enters the mystic valley and is “shot in the back by mornin’.” “Anoxia” gets us back to the environmental themes of the record (The album cover features a man in a haz-mat suit and a snake emerging from a biohazard waste barrel.). The double drums almost play lead on it.
Don’t worry if the previous couple tracks didn’t have enough fuzz for you, because “Doom City” has enough for the entire side of an LP. The microtonal guitar in this sounds like creepy laughter from an evil imp hiding in a dark corner. I’m sure it’s not a random choice that “Nuclear Fusion” follows “Doom City.” The songs flow together and the groove is downright radioactive. It gets under your skin and might make you hear colors as they sing about patterns in the sky and on the subatomic level.
The title track (an instrumental) closes the record, and the band brings in cool Australian Aboriginal percussion to meld with the squealing, hypnotic microtonal guitars. KGALTW are off to a great start in their five-album quest. The second one, Murder of the Universe, is already available for pre-order. Get caught up now while you can by picking up Flying Microtonal Banana.
Keep your mind open.