King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard came out with a new album, Flying Microtonal Banana, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is compelling to say the least.
Initially, the band’s unusual sound can be a bit much. The harsh tones and fast pace of the first song, “Rattlesnake,” is a bit uncomfortable to hear at first. Although my ears had not fully adjusted to their odd aesthetic, my interest was held throughout the first song and it was hard to ignore the new atmosphere the music was creating.
Moving on to the next few songs, I found more of an appreciation for what they were trying to accomplish with this album. “Melting” gives listeners a bit of a breather after the marathon that is its nearly eight-minute predecessor but becomes just as captivating, if not more so.
When I came upon their second over-seven-minute-song, “Open Water,” I found myself becoming more immersed in their sound. It still felt strange to be hearing harsher sounds that stray a bit from what I’m used to, but I felt like I was starting to understand where they were coming from and appreciate this difference in style rather than rejecting it.
Both “Sleep Drifters” and “Billabong Valley” seem to combine some of the band’s unique style with a more laid back feel and a catchy tune. From here on, I started to find myself truly enjoying the band’s style. “Doom City” and “Nuclear Fusion” brought with them a bit more noticeable ambiance, which I found to contribute well to the meanings of the songs rather than distract from them.
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The last song on the album, the title track “Flying Microtonal Banana,” is entirely instrumental, and to me, served the purpose of being somewhat of an explanation for the album. I think it is a necessary track for showing the intent of the album, even though it’s not a song I would generally listen to alone. I had not given the title much thought until I noticed the strange pitch abnormalities in numerous moments in their music. Going back to listen once more, I found myself growing a liking for the prevalent microtonality and the sometimes uncomfortable but unique and riveting effect it brings.
I think it is also important to note the ambiguous lyrics provide constant food for thought while listening, and the music does a fantastic job of clueing the listener in on potential interpretations. One of the most important aspects of music to me is evoking feelings and planting meanings in the listener’s mind — something I believe this album succeeded in doing.
I acknowledge completely this style of music will not be for everyone. It does take some getting used to and a bit of an open mind to truly appreciate it, but I think, in creating a work of art experimenting with microtonality and abstract concepts, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard did a pretty great job. I look forward to hearing if they alter or improve upon this style in the future.