King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard Take a Microtonal Dive on ‘LW’

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are back with another new album, LW. The band’s 17th studio album is the follow up to 2020’s KG and also the third installment in their series of microtonal explorations (which also includes 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana). The record comes right on the heels of the recently released live-studio music video “Pleura,” directed by John Angus Stewart.

King Gizzard intended LW to be a seamless continuation of 2020’s KG as all of the songs were recorded together with the same stylistic and experimental tendencies. The double album is bookended by separate but similarly titled tracks “KGLW.” The first, being the opening track on KG, is a one-and-a-half-minute melody reminiscent of medieval minstrel music while the second version of “KGLW,” the closing track on LW, is a slow burning thrash metal epic. Even the noisy outro of KG closing track “The Hungry Wolf of Fate” extends into the opening minute of LW opener “If Not Now, Then When?” before abruptly switching into a slinky funk jam.

On LW, King Gizzard continue their dive into “microtonal tunings,” a unique musical style that comes from using instrumentation designed to give distinct tones between those found on western, indexed instruments. Frontman Stu Mackenzie described the effort by saying “we wanted to make new music that was somehow more colorful this time around, and which maybe reflected the many new things that we have learned along the way.” The band relies heavily on the bağlama, a Turkish stringed instrument, to create layers of psychedelic and mystical microtonal passages that transports the listener right to the deserts of the Far East. Mixed with Stu’s unique metal-tinged vocals and garage rock guitar structure, the band delivers a truly innovative experience on LW.

King Gizzard at Central Park Summerstage, 8/28/2019 – Photo by Buscar Photo

However, King Gizzard do not just stick to one sound here. In fact, the band fine tune many of the different stylistic directions from their back catalog in the theme of Eastern microtonal tuning. On both KG and LW there are tracks with a disco/funk rhythm, heavy thrash metal tracks that could fit right on Infest the Rats’ Nest, and prog-folk odysseys. The Melbourne based band have dedicated entire albums to these influences over their career, but on KG and LW they all come together in a whole new way. The result is as if you threw 70s era prog and folk rock, Revolver era Beatles, and early Black Sabbath into the Gizzard song machine.

King Gizzard at Central Park Summerstage, 8/28/2019 – Photo by Buscar Photo

Standout tracks include the lead single “Pleura,” a driving garage rock song with a stringy folk passage in the back half, “Static Electricity” which features layers of swirling woodwinds and acoustic guitar arpeggios, and closing track “KGLW” which is a sprawling 8-minute thrash metal banger with a creepy “K-G-L-W” vocal mantra buried into the mix. You can find both albums to download right on King Gizzard’s own site (HERE) where $1 from every download of LW is being donated to Greenfleet, a charity aimed at replanting biodiverse forests in Australia and New Zealand.

If one thing is certain, given the extra time from not being able to tour, this is only the beginning of another rabid burst of musical output from King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

Check out more photos from King Gizzard’s headline show at Central Park Summerstage back in August 2019 below.

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