In a sentence:
Overuse of microtonal riffs and progressions leads to the first falter of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s industrious career on 16th album ‘K.G.’
The prolific psych-rock septet, King Gizzard & The
Lizard Wizard, have released yet another album, perhaps proving them
to be the hardest working band in the genre of modern psychedelic rock – their
total number of album releases now reaching 16 with the arrival of their latest
work, K.G.. However, the material here doesn’t seem to cover any new
ground as far as Stu Mackenzie and troops are concerned; instead, the band that
have previously defied sonic definition have started to show the first
unfortunate signs of musical stagnation.
Thanks to their previous work, King Gizzard & The Lizard
Wizard have been often credited as the band to bring microtonal music to a
modern, Western audience. Quick music theory lesson: ‘microtones’, in layman’s
terms, are the notes between notes, as they are found between the pitches
categorised by Western standard tuning. Microtonal music has been present
throughout history in many non-Western cultures, but many Western listeners are
not familiar with music that uses them. Why get into all this? Well, King
Gizzard’s music is aimed at a largely Western audience, so the use of
microtones in their work has given them the reputation of sounding quite bizarre.
To a certain extent, their use has become critical in Mackenzie’s development
of a ‘signature’ sound.
This is where the issues with K.G. start to become apparent. Bearing the subtitle Explorations Into Microtonal Tuning, Volume 2, the whole album is centred around microtonal riffs and motifs, which start to become tiresome after the third or fourth track, and if you’ve previously listened to King Gizzard, these once-novel sounds are no longer as effective in stimulating your sonic senses. This is made more insufferable by each track on K.G. running into the next track, which isn’t particularly interesting or impressive when four songs in a row (‘Minimum Brain Size’ to ‘Ontology’) feature microtonal riffs that soon start to grate their nails down the chalkboard of your ear drums. There is a brief respite provided by the dance-inducing ‘Intrasport’, but the listener is then thrust back into the world of microtonal riffage with the next track, ‘Oddlife’. Unfortunately, the seemingly endless variations of the same guitar riff from track to track just makes listening to K.G. feel like a such a slog.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are without a doubt one
of modern psychedelia’s powerhouse bands, and they have earned that position
through their consistent and relentless output of material, but K.G.
feels like an album where they’re just treading water, imitating their own
sound. It’s fairly uninteresting and it’s almost a shame to say that such
bizarre music is beginning to sound stale. That being said, the case of King
Gizzard and the overused microtones pales in comparison to the gross overuse of
the same chord patterns/harmonic progressions and cliches in the majority of
modern rock music. K.G. may be a bit of a déjà vu moment in the
musical careers of the members of King Gizzard, but it’s still a refreshing
change to a lot of the same old rehashed rock music out there in 2020. (6/10)
Listen to K.G. by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Jacob Kendrew, K.G., King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, review
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