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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana CD (album) cover


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.25 | 148 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Another one of my all time favourite albums! This album was what they deemed the beginning of their deep dive into microtonal music, going so far as to have "volume 1" in the top left hand corner of the vinyl. Fun Fact: the name of the album came from the guitar that was custom built for King Gizz of the same name, and is featured on the front and back of the album. This was the 1st of 5 albums that King Gizz had promised to release in 2017. To me, this one one of their more daring exploits, and certainly not an easy one to pull off. I think that this album is another near masterpiece from them, continuing the progressive elements from the previous album Nonagon Infinity and bringing influences from various European cultures with a more driving rock aspect to it. This album is one of the pinnacles of more accessible experimental rock. I'm going to preface that some hardcore fans seem to understand the underlying story far better than I do, so that certainly won't be the main focus in this review.

Rattlesnake This album really starts off with the weakest song for me. It's not necessarily a bad song, I've grown to be okay with it, and could even say some parts are good. I like the vocals that have layers during the chorus. It kind of takes the one note jam a little bit too far, mainly because the parts going on around the very stagnant rhythm aren't as interesting as other songs. It's very tedious, and I like me a good jamming song, but this one is just a bit much for me to casually listen to. The zurna is really great however, and that plus the vocals are my favourite parts of this song. The microtones aren't used very much as this song, maybe because it's more of an intro to the album. The transitions between the beginning and ends of each song on the album are pretty great, especially the wind one here.

Melting Definitely one of my top songs I've ever listened to. I feel like this one would've been a better introduction song, seeing as it makes the microtones more and more prevalent. It has one of my favourite melodies, using B phrygian and adding extra microtones in the scale like C half-sharp, and G half-sharp. The interplay between the bass and the vocals is really notable to me, along with the very Latin feeling groove makes this one such a head-bopper to listen to. The really delicate synth adding the more Latin rhythms as well really adds to the texture. The effects that they put on the vocals (a kind of groan tube style filter) really pushes the 'melting' feeling of the song. The guitar solo, bass solo, as well as when the synth has its highlights are really fantastic. The drums (being panned in both ears and doubled!! Thank you Eric and Cavs!!) have really bright cymbals while having a really dark snare, creating a really cool contrast in the amount of sound that's happening. The haunting and foreboding lyrics with Stu doing very intentionally soft vocals works incredibly well on this track. The low pass filter leading into Open Water making it sound like we're underwater is very very nice.

Open Water I think this one does the one note jam a lot better than Rattlesnake, it has more fun variation in rhythms, and more of a power and drive to the drums. The groove on this track is iconic with the repeating snare pattern that really adds a punch to the sound unlike most songs on this album. The section where the guitar is just doing its thing at 1:12 is so good. The song uses microtones to emphasize a lot of the transitions and the melody, and it works really well to add some unease into the sound. Another emphasis is the layering of the natural sounds on top of the music, like the waves that occur in the middle of this song. The zurna is once again really great on this one. The shredding guitar along with the vocals at 4:40 is a really interesting choice that I love, it's not too powerful, it's very perfect for the scene they create. Everything in this song is incredibly well balanced in general, considering there's multiple guitars, multiple synth tracks, 2 drum tracks, vocals, etc., but it's not mixed in a very invasive way.

Sleep Drifter Probably my favourite of the chill songs on this album. It's still got a very rigid groove and is another one note jam song, but it's a lot softer than other songs. The lyrics that suggest lucid dreaming and the feeling of them, I think they set the stage really well for the song, and the really sweet melody accompanies this well. The breakdown/buildup in the middle of this song is a highlight for me, it's such a well done fake-out ending. The microtonal flourishes and trills in this one are really cool sounding, another strong contender for differentiating the songs. It is another one note jam, however it's a little slower, and gives a little more room to breathe in different sections. I enjoy how Billabong Valley sweeps through the mix in the end, feeling like a drifting tumbleweed.

Billabong Valley I'm still kind of 50/50 on the pitched up vocals in this song. I'm inclined to like them more because of the experimental nature, but they don't sound super great to me. The melody's not the strongest, but still good, and that kind of sums up this song. It definitely for me gets overshadowed by the other much stronger songs on this album. I do really enjoy the slowed down portion however, added with the zurna that adds some extra colour to the song. Strong progression in the song, but doesn't do anything wildly outstanding like a lot of the other songs.

Anoxia I feel like this is easily the most overlooked one in the album. It has such a good riff to go along with the really great melody. The switch up in moods going back and forth between double time and not are really well done, not a super aggressive switch and just really well done. Joey's vocals on this one are just a really nice switch up to the rest of the album which is just Stu. This song for me uses microtones the strongest, adding to the melody through the use of ornamentation, and also in the riffs during trills in the guitar. The lyrics on this one are really strong, keeping up the very mystical and foreshadowing nature of other songs. The transition to Doom City as well is a lot of fun.

Doom City Another overlooked one, but for a good reason. Another weaker song on this album, but not entirely bad or anything, still a good song. I like how this is the heaviest on the album with the use of the distortion guitars. The guitars also using wah pedals are really fun. The tempo switches on this song aren't nearly as strong as Anoxia. The continuous 'doom doom doom city, doom doom' in the background is really cool, adding another non-invasive layer to the song. They definitely had fun recording the zurna on this one with how aggressive and improvisatory it feels, sounds like fun.

Nuclear Fusion My favourite song on this album. Best riff and melody even though there are some strong contenders, and easily the best one note jam song (there's a lot of those on this album). The pitched down voices on this one, compared to Billabong Valley, work really well at the bookends of the song. The varied bass line makes the one note jam a lot more listenable and doesn't feel like we're listening to the same song over and over again on this album. I've always liked the little 'dum dum dum' that Stu hums in the beginning, his vocals are really great with the shaky parts he adds, as well as the almost muffled mic that's used. The vocals are really great, doing a similar thing to Rattlesnake, but to better effect with the melody happening and below it has Stu(?) singing the same rhythm but on the low F#. The lyrics are really strong off this one, with a really fun twist of demented science and about fusion of humans supposedly and of the actual nuclear fusion. It has such a good drum beat as well, simple but effective generally, shifting focus between ears at times. The bass in the high registers at 2:25 is such a fun texture switch up, adding more reinforcement to the top end of the piece. The tiny synth solo at 2:58 I also very much love <3.

Flying Microtonal Banana Just a great jammy song in 7/8 to end off the album. The layered zurnas on this one really sounds like an army approaching and I love that ominous sound. I enjoy how the instruments like the zurnas and harmonica blend and move in and out with one another. Dynamically the instruments really fade in and out with each other as well. It's a really solid outro to the entire album, and forms a loop back to the beginning in a similar style to Nonagon Infinity.

Issues: I think the songs get a little too tedious at times, and there's a lot of one note jamming that happens in this one. They definitely break this trend in the future microtonal albums KG and LW, getting a little more melodious with the riffs.

Strengths: This album has such good riff and melody writing, nearly every song having a very strong selection of ideas and phrases in them. I enjoyed the experimentation they had with this album, blending a lot of different colours and vibes to match with the microtonal aesthetic.

Generally this album is insanely close to perfect for me. The only things I would change are Rattlesnake and some smaller portions of songs. I'm giving this one 5 stars, because I feel like I could nerd out and rant about these songs for hours, even the weaker ones. And for the same reason as Paper Mâché Dream Balloon and Nonagon Infinity, this album is just much closer to 5 stars than 4 for me.

GameSwitcher | 5/5 |


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