The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – ‘K.G.’ (KGLW)


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.

Music video for ‘Automation’

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.

Music video for ‘Intrasport’

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) (Jacob Kendrew)

Listen to K.G. by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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