Return Of The Microtonal Bananas
It is non-negotiable in my eyes that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the band of the 2010's. What the Australian seven-piece accomplished following their formation all the way back in 2010 is downright ludicrous, offering a near-unparalleled quantity of provokingly unique musical ideas through 15 studio albums, all with a distinct style explored through the wonderful creativity of their southern hemisphere psychedelia.
For myself (and many others) King Gizz's crowning achievement arrived in 2017 with the release of Flying Microtonal Banana, the first of five albums released within a single year. Yep. Five. Fucking ridiculous. Beyond the impressive feat of the sheer volume of that year's musical harvest however, FMB remained particularly essential listening for the 2010s. Exploring an oft-underutilised realm of musical possibilities, the group's experimentation with microtonal tuning on that album proved electrifying. Composed through the use of pitches traditionally ignored by Western music scales, what the group accomplished through their banana-goodness was unsettling, fun and it fucking rocked. 'Rattlesnake' still sits proudly as one of my favourite songs of the last decade - and I'd certainly be surprised if I was alone in granting it such praise.
Then, in typical Gizz fashion their next project switched gears, with Murder of the Universe returning to another adventure into the blistering psych rock that made 2016's Nonagon Infinity another essential listen in the King Gizzard catalogue. Now Murder of the Universe is great, and I recognise that the very reason this band's music remains so consistently compelling is that they are always willing to alter their style into brand new genres and ideas - but I wanted more microtonal music, dammit. I wanted more banana.
This month, I got my wish. With 'Honey', my favourite psych rock band returned to the banana dimension, but this time - with an acoustic guitar. The result? One of my favourite Lizard Wizard songs of all time. I mean it. To me, this tune rivals 'Rattlesnake', 'Robot Stop' and 'Fishing For Fishies' at the very top of my list. I love it so much, and to those of you that are still yet to pledge your souls to this Melbourne septet, you need to hear 'Honey' right now.
'Honey' feels like the culmination of years at work. Like a Katamari ball of Oceanic fuzz, this song sounds as if it was rolled through the last decade of the group's discography, accumulating the character of various musical moments contained from Willoughby's Beach all the way to Infest The Rats' Nest. Obviously Flying Microtonal Banana's microtonality reappears, but so does the acoustic temperament of Paper Maché Dream Balloon. The harmonica returns (Ed: fuck yeah), but perhaps most welcome at all, the vocals of Stu Mackenzie are given the chance to enjoy a sensitive moment in the spotlight. In the annals of Gizz, this might be my favourite performance that Mackenzie has sung. Soft, subtle and sincere, if there were *ever* doubts about Mr. Stu's capabilities to express himself emotionally through his vocal delivery, sincerely lay those doubts to rest and ask yourself "Am I In Heaven?".
I highly doubt that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will ever stop making excellent music, but what I am even more convinced about is that this group will never stop pushing their music into interesting and unique ideas. When they drop a psych rock LP, expect jazz fusion. Next time around, it'll be folk. It's not even "expect the unexpected" at this point. It's "stop expecting, what Gizz have around the corner is more interesting than you could possibly imagine".
I love this band, and I love 'Honey'. I hope you do too.
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Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in South Wales.