If there’s a band that could truly claim the prize of currently being one of the world’s most creatively interesting and unpredictable, it is our own King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
Painting with a palette so large they are invariably pigeonholed in totally inappropriate categories by a media and industry constantly left struggling to anticipate which direction they’ll take next, KGLW have until now focused each of their musical moods into individual albums or musical suites. The title of their twentieth album, Omnium Gatherum, basically translates as a collection of miscellanea, and so it proves to be.
Opening epic The Dripping Tap is a sprawling psychedelic 70s acid trip of breathtaking scope that journeys through spiralling guitars, towering solos, swirling organs, trippy vocals and drumming freak outs for a staggering 18 minutes. It is KGLW at their true pinnacle as a jam band, and there’s a danger that anything they do on the album from this point is doomed to fall under the shadow of such an audacious opening cut.
But King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is an audacious band, and one that has shown to be not only ridiculously over-creative to the point that this is their twentieth album in only 12 years but an act that clearly ignores any and all boundaries. Now unshackled from their own restrictions that saw them dedicating each album to a different style of music, Omnium Gatherum reads like a compendium of everything this group has attempted or was yet to attempt, a wildly unpredictable 80 minutes where everything is on the table.
Magenta Mountain is bright pop, Sadie Sorceress bounces out of the lounge groove of Ambergris to find its roots in hip-hop – The Grim Reaper goes in a similar Beasties-styled way but incorporates their continuing experimentation with microtonality – and the dream pop of Kepler 22b sparkles with a jazz inflection. Elsewhere, they riff out in metal fashion on Gaia with its stomping, hooky chug riff (and admittedly try-hard vocals) and the Mastodon-like Predator X. Few bands could pull off such a patchwork of disparate styles and genres, and while there’s no clear concept to Omnium Gatherum beyond the concept of randomness itself there’s an astounding level of songcraft at every turn. Their acerbic social commentary on Earth’s imminent end remains at the core of their overall message – Ambergris is about ocean pollution from a whale’s POV, Kepler 22b a whistful yearning for a new planetary home now that this one’s done and the Gizz use the heady, spiralling pop of Evilest Man to take a thorough broadside at master mass media manipulator Rupert Murdoch.
It would be easy to accuse Omnium Gatherum of being too clever for its own good, but even at almost an hour and a half, it never feels that way. Instead, it a literal showcase for a band that refuses to conform even to boundaries set on itself. While it may be too wildly disparate and patience-testing for many tastes, this is an undeniable masterpiece from a band that still has plenty of ideas left.
- The Dripping Tap
- Magenta Mountain
- Kepler 22b
- Sadie Sorceress
- Evilest Man
- The Garden Goblin
- Blame it On the Weather
- The Grim Reaper
- Predator X
- Red Smoke
- The Funeral