King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard go west
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s 2013 release, Eyes Like the Sky, is one of the single most ambitious albums I have encountered. I say this with total confidence and disregard for the fact that it was created by the relatively young seven-piece, who are still very much in the process of carving a name for themselves on the rich palimpsest of Australian rock music.
I had heard little more of King Gizzard than optimistic rumblings before this year; their notable performance as Girl Talk’s support slot of early 2012 and the fact that when they played the same role for prominent Wollongong grunge stoner-rock band, Tumbleweed later the same year in Melbourne, the band allegedly took the stage after King Gizzard’s set declaring something much to the effect of “yeah, we’re not going to be that good”.
The band seem adept at setting themselves apart from the orgy of indie folk-pop that has ensnared most of their more successful contemporaries; Eyes like the Sky is a stunning concept album and exemplary of the experimental processes for which they are gaining some well-deserved recognition.
The album is based upon a spaghetti-western storyline produced and narrated by Broderick Smith (Carson, the Dingoes) with King Gizzard’s compelling riffs and psychedelic resonances to accompany the overtones of Broderick’s guttural southern drawl. Largely, the dynamic of the album sounds rather as though Clint Eastwood met the Doors in a bar and really hit it off. The music itself is intensely clever, rife with layers of intoxicating sounds, stirring distortion and captivating dissonance, where appropriate in the narrative. A prime example of this ingenuity is the God Man’s Goat Lust, which describes the vengeful murder of your average old western antagonist, nurturing the listener’s morbid satisfaction and accompanied by some alarmingly powerful discordance; the section is completed by a particularly sexy blues bass refrain that is compelled by an advancing climax of conflicting psychedelic sounds and driving guitar. The most notable track of the album is Dust in the Wind for its dynamic tribal drum patterns and tension produced by the constant presence of disharmonious piano keys, which give that sense of wind-chimes-in-a-storm unease as well as its brilliant portrayal of remorseless and let’s face it, badass violence.
Eyes Like the Sky is a fantastic album, although it very much requires the listener’s full attention, the narrative and music thoroughly losing their impact when the tracks, which blend seamlessly together as a whole, are heard singularly. Although, despite its faultless creativity, the basis of this concept album means that becoming truly emotionally engaged is difficult as its old western theme becomes blaringly obvious as a play-upon-a-play-upon-a-play; Broderick’s storyline does not deviate an iota from the archetypal characters and plot of what one would expect from such a storyline. Regardless, it is an album that further concretes the notion that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are brimming with potential for amazing work in the future; Eyes like the Sky being firmly in the upper echelons of the games of cowboys and Indians that I have seen thus far.
Words by Elfy Scott.