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King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland - Ltd. LP

Price per Unit (stuk): €23.95

The psych rock band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard chose to release its fourth album of the year—with a fifth supposedly en route—as a free digital download, encouraging fans to create as many copies as they please. “Make tapes, make CD’s, make records,” reads a note accompanying the album’s release. “Ever wanted to start your own record label? GO for it! Employ your mates, press wax, pack boxes. We do not own this record. You do. Go forth, share, enjoy.” Whether they're trying to scale back record expenses, or it’s an altruistic transfer of power to fans, King Gizzard’s decision to surrender control over this album’s physical reach is a comical one. Polygondwanaland is the farthest the seven-piece has strayed from their usual psych sci-fi roots. The band still employ lyrical nerdiness and wigged-out guitar in the album, but whereas King Gizzard’s last records got knee deep in prog rock, Polygondwanaland slinks into those waters until it’s waist high and loses the usual gnarly riffs.

Like its mouthful of a title, Polygondwanaland delivers a 10-course meal without dividers between its dishes. Songs seep into one another for an immersive listen. The stirring, quiet percussion of “Inner Cell” tiptoes into “Loyalty” for a slow buildup, before it splashes into the punctuated vocals of “Horology,” a sea of guitar tapping and rich, warm woodwinds. As usual, transitions are key in King Gizzard’s work, but they add a smoothness to Polygondwanaland that makes it particularly digestible, so that every vocal sigh and gaudy synth acts as a complementary flavor.

Like the euphoric peaks of 1970s-era Yes or the melodic sections of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s discography, a solid first impression and a memorable farewell make these type of dense records impactful. King Gizzard put the majority of their stock in this. Polygondwanaland opens with 10 minutes of painstakingly recorded instrumentation on “Crumbling Castle.” Syncopated drumming and clean guitar scales part ways for bandleader Stu Mackenzie and his gentle voice. The song’s vague rumination on sickness and fragility parallels the instruments gently blowing behind him: backing guitars harmonize with one another, a flute solo fades in, and barely-discernable keyboards whirr in the distance. Then, in the song’s final minute, the band trades that for a wall of stoner-metal sludge. Closing track “The Fourth Colour” opts for the same dazzling effect. After endless, bright guitar trills and a rhythmic drone, a risible drum fill prompts the band to wreak havoc in the song's final minute, exploding with the psych rock frenzy of Flying Microtonal Banana or I’m in Your Mind Fuzz.

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