Released: November 17, 2017
Reviewed by: Bailey Ernst
If Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd had a music-infused love child, the Australian born band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (KGLW) would be stumbling on pitter-pattering feet across the questionably progressive rock universe. Spewing music that could easily be the soundtrack to a 1970s hippie controversial film, KGLW have released multiple albums enlisting the help of a multitude of instruments and vocal ranges in 2017. Their newest album “Polygondwanaland,” explores the outlandish and fervent macrocosm of rock and roll while stringing along the notions of scandalous jazz and licks of heavy metal.
Every aspect of this album scrapes off a stop-motion picture, multi-universe adventure vibe. We start our adventure in the tunnels of, “Crumbling Castle,” bringing to light the Claymation protagonist inching his way into the depths of a world unknown. The hushed voices and electric guitar bothered by the bass trembling in 5/8 and 7/4 time introduce the world as a psychedelic post-apocalyptic timepiece. The castle has been destroyed and war stained, and it’s up to the protagonist to save cities disfigured and to explore its abyss.
“Water’s rising up, thick and green … / Are we safe in our citadel?”
The desert plain is revealed after hours of carrying the weight of distant refuge, wind blowing the protagonist’s long locks in, “Polygondwanaland.” Flutists and fiddlers dance and cry with their tambourines as the drought of the desert cause black and white infused hallucinations to form and take over the brain, splicing irises and exploding neurons. Moving chaotically into, “The Castle In The Air,” a woman’s voice whispers a semiotic chime (“The river opened her mouth and spat into a vast sea larger and bluer than a cloudless sky…”), empowering the protagonist to keep moving his soggy clay feet to the time signature changes baring similar beats to the chasm band, Tool. As if perfectly planted, we come across the next song, “Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet.”
“Feel euphoric … / Prehistoric … / Living fossil …”
As the tempestuous sea becomes closer, unknown demons fight lavishly and attempt to grasp the protagonist’s mind, making, “Inner Cell,” call forth an internal battle, sickening bullets thrown at him in invisible haste. Constant pressure and negative thoughts (“Dance of the dead will descend / on his head”); every line cut short with staccato and declared in such a profoundly immoral timbre. The struggle transcends into, “Loyalty,” giving a brighter and blinding light to the adventure, increasing confidence and wit. The protagonist has won the internal battle. The diabolical sea waits.
“I will fight inquisition … / I will not surrender if I’m backed into a corner.”
Strangling the beast of the sea is a hard feat, its dragon scales twisting into mist when pricked and touched. “Horology,” and “Tetrachromacy,” both adhere to the temptations of the beast and the crusty crusade…temptations to give up and negate life; become an unknown amongst the defeated.
“Beast too strong. Sea too powerful. The protagonist is lost.”
“I heard a story, could be true / About a colour under blue. You couldn’t see it with your eyes / Or invent with intellect”
But, with one last glimmer of shimmering hope, we’re greeted with, “Searching…,” the song to bring him back to life and yield the beastly temptations of giving in. Imagine the protagonist gasping for his last breath, seeing the absence of color in any light, top of the sea miles away from his fingertips. He hears the clamoring of bongos and claps in sync with mild strums of acoustic strings that grasp and collapse into his clay wrists toward the surface.
“I am omnipresent for thee … / I walk the streets holy.”
The world is at ease for three seconds, froth in the sea, before the last song. “The Fourth Colour,” emerges into the sound-waves. Battle and blood between the beast and protagonist. Overzealous beats of burden enrage. And the winner lives.
But the win is more of a Schrödinger-esque plea against the dying of the citadel. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard enlist the sound of silence in the middle of the last song to usher out the ideology of the new world, made up of sounds and charming colors called, Polygondwanaland.