It’s been over a week since Australian Psych-Rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard dropped their latest album, the latest of nine full-length studio albums in five years. I’ve purposely waited a week to write my review, purely because any King Giz’ album needs multiple listens for one to really understand the millions of little complexities.
For a band with such a prolific output of records, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of increasingly the excitement and anticipation of fans with each release. Their previous album Nonagon Infinity was a revolutionary piece of innovation, as the album technically never ends, with each track bleeding into the next and the last song bleeding back into the first.
The main point of Flying Microtonal Banana is that the band are locked in the confines of a precise series of notes. The album was inspired by a microtonal-tuned guitar, which creates intervals much smaller than a semitone, which is commonplace in most western music.
The main risk with releasing such a high number of studio albums over a short period of time, is that occasionally the bar may be set too high to exceed. Nonagon Infinity set the bar very, very high and Flying Microtonal Banana had its work cut out for it before the first song had already been recorded.
Let’s get into the track list. Four tunes really stand out to me in this album; Rattlesnake, Melting, Anoxia and Nuclear Fusion.
The album opens with Rattlesnake, a rousing and mosh-provoking homage to the likes of Black Sabbath, with inspiration clearly taken from early heavy metal music. Rattlesnake was released as a single several months before the release of this album, so it was already familiar in the minds of King Gizzard fans.
Melting opens with rhythmic drumming from the bands two drummers, Stu Mackenzie’s vocals are in falsetto and are wrapped perfectly around the instruments. Don’t worry if you’re struggling to find narrative in these songs, the band is known for somewhat nonsensical lyrics.
Anoxia was the most talked-about entry on FMB, whilst still staying true to the microtonal tuning of the album, the song opens with a roaring, sexy guitar rift which harkens back to guitar players like Jimmy Page or Tony Iommi. The influences of Eastern music, Indian music in particular, are clear in Anoxia.
Nuclear Fusion is a great example of note-repetition being a good thing, the opening guitar tune is addictive and attention grabbing, once again the vocals compliment the instruments perfectly, the band comes together almost like a machine, you wouldn’t believe that it was seven dudes playing.
Flying Microtonal Banana ends with the titular track of the album. The opening drums are a direct nod of respect to Indian music, almost like a final farewell to the musical experiment that is Flying Microtonal Banana.
I do like this album, but it has thrown me into a tricky area. By normal musical standards, especially those of modern independent music, this album is a tour de-force, a masterpiece, a fucking Da Vinci painting. However, when compared to the innovative genius of earlier Gizz albums, I’d honestly say this is one of the weakest in recent years. It’s an original concept, but it lacks the mind-blowing innovation of Nonagon Infinity, or the delicate musicianship of Quarters.
If you want to get into this band, don’t start with this album, start with either I’m in your Mind Fuzz or Nonagon Infinity.
Flying Microtonal Banana – 83/100
Written by Sam Revivo