Monday, September 28, 2020

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Straws in the Wind review

Since the release of their last studio album, 2019's Infest the Rats Nest, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have been extremely busy. From touring globally to, amid the coronavirus pandemic, recording new work. This dedication to producing music is no surprise to us, given their 2017 effort to release 5 albums in one year. Throughout their prolific musical career, the band has released jazz, long-form, and microtonal albums; from album to album, they are questioning the boundaries of their genre and style. The Gizz (as they are also referred too) are no strangers to being musically adventurous. Infest the Rats Nest (2019) was a shock to some Lizard Wizard fans due to the heavy, driven rhythm and semi-droned singing; but primarily, it was seen as a step away from their albums released in 2017, all of which have since become their sonic hallmark.

Alongside their 2 other recent single releases, "Straws in the Wind" offers us a glimpse back into the band's microtonal sound; a sound of which we first heard in Flying Microtonal Banana, the first album release of 2017. The odd time signatures and peculiar tunings are, in my opinion at least, a welcome sound. "Straws in the Wind" is sung by Ambrose Kenny-Smith, a usual alternative to Stu Mackenzie. Ambrose's singing, the use of acoustic guitar, and microtonality are all definitive call-backs to previous songs and records such as "Billabong Valley" (Flying Microtonal Banana, 2017) and Paper Mache Dream Balloon (2015). 

Upon listening to this track, I found myself noticing this is a change of tone from the likes of "Some of Us" and "Honey", whereby "Straws in the Wind" has a more interesting structure than "Honey" but is equally not as 'heavy' as "Some of Us". In my opinion, what we have here, is a definitive step back into the microtonal realm of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. A territory that long-time Lizard Wizard fans hold on a pedestal - and rightfully so. Hopefully, in their next full release, we'll be seeing an amalgam of these new tracks - I doubt we'll see a concept album (at this point, that kind of album almost seems very '2017' for The Gizz these days), but my guess is we will be getting a full-length ear-full of the band's sweet mid-atonality.

- Charlie Cowburn

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