King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Gumboot Soup (Flightless)
Everyone says that 2017 was a weird, scary year. And I know what they mean: what has the world come to when releasing five albums in calendar year is considered not only a great idea, but is actually achievable? The Gizz have done it though, dropping this fine platter on New Years Eve.
First things first: you do gross out when you realise that gumboot is down under slang for a condom/having sex. So this, er, lovely soup then: what does it actually taste like? Well a few commentators assumed it would be all filler no killer, the offshoots not fitted in anywhere else in their monumental year of songs and shows. They were wrong. Yes some of these songs were from earlier sessions, but many of them were recorded post-Polygondwanaland, and their creative streak runs on and on.
Opener ‘Beginner’s Luck’ is a departure from said previous album, which was simultaneously both heavy and added plenty of 80s-style synths. Here instead is the unmistakable flighty sound of 70s AOR: flute, mellotron, wah-wah guitars, and most crucially a pop melody. But it’s still the Gizz, with it’s superb drum fills, wiggy guitar outro, and definite proggy song structure towards the end suggesting your slide into the Soup will be a bit more Alice in Wonderland than the first minute or two had suggested. This album is defiantly song-based rather than themed, as evident immediately on track two: the tribal, Goat-esque ‘Greenhouse Heat Death’ is mesmeric, but not hummable (and seemingly warning of the dangers of global warming). Then the 70s prog of Yes and Jethro Tull are thoroughly channelled on ‘Barefoot Desert’, and continues the theme with the rockier ‘Muddy Water’, which has a eastern (microtonal) riff and drumbeat combination that will surely slay festivals in 2018.
Not unexpectedly there's a good dose of krautrock in here, as ‘Superposition’ brings the motorik (as well as slipping in some flavours of Canadian proggers Klaatu with the tasty vocoder on the vocal). ‘The Great Chain Of Being’ is superb; bringing the doom along onto the autobahn with a primitive riff and growlier-than-Lemmy vocal. ‘All Is Known’, however, is pure AC/DC-inspired classic rock: a four to the floor rocker that gets trippier the more microtonal it gets as it races along. And ‘I’m Sleepin’ In’ mimics Tame Impala in channelling the Lennon-penned psych Beatles classics, whilst still being extremely interesting. The closer ‘The Wheel’ is a Riders On The Storm variation, with Fender Rhodes textures fighting with that drummer again for attention. It’s a suitably mind-blowing finish.
There’s elements of repetition of ideas from previous records on some of Gumboot Soup, which is to be expected considering the largesse of their output. Perhaps the jazzy funk of ‘Down The Sink’ is them on autopilot a little, a typically mid-album lustless drifter. And Ambrose Kenny-Smith takes over from Stu Mackenzie on lead vocals for the sci-fi lounge of ‘The Last Oasis’ to very minor effect. These are minor quibbles though; Gumboot Soup, in all it’s non-focused glory, contains many of the best songs they made in 2017.
Job done, lads.
BY PHIL ISTINE
A blog to pontificate upon music both new and old: mostly reviews, some news, interviews, thought pieces, and exclusive content.