King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – their name alone encourages a smile. Say it with an Australian affectation and that gesture is met with an approving nasal exhale of appreciation of the septet’s magical fun. An appreciation that deepens with each listen to their constantly evolving and prolific discography, which has expanded to eight titles in just six years. They are no joke, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard work extremely hard and they are more than commendable at what they do.
Nonagon Infinity is the latest release from the Australian collective of psychedelic experimentalists, and is described by frontman Stu MacKenzie as a “never-ending album,” that lasts approximately 41 minutes. Despite the sometime unpredictability of their sound – their musical inspirations and persuasions sway from garage to soul, psychedelic folk and prog-rock – they are consistent in adhering to a specific musical theme with each collection of songs expressing their current mood. The thorough consideration that correlates both the sound and naming of each album is most evident in Nonagon Infinity. The nine songs retain a uniformity in composition which means that the continuity of the album is seamless, in fact it is easy to lose track of how many songs you have listened to. So perfect is the flow of the album that the final moments of the last song, the aptly titled ‘Road Train’, loop back to the jutting opening chords of ‘Robot Stop.’ My main criticism of Nonagon Infinity is that these aforementioned songs are the most aurally challenging of the entire album, the coupling of the hypnotic ‘Invisible Face’ and Hendrixesque ‘Wah Wah,’ would have made for a more enticing entry/exit.
The ambitious dedication to the overall composition poses a difficulty when trying to digest this album as a whole during the first few listens. The songs are loud, unapologetically so, and may be a deterrent to fans of King Gizzard’s previous album. The soft and soulful sound of last years, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon bares no resemblance to the newer songs; which is a shame because that was a spectacular release. However, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are experimentalists and they would be doing a disservice to their trajectory by impeding their musical explorations. Where Paper Mâche was whimsical and offered borderline eccentric ditties, Nonagon Infinity is ingrained with the intent to be taken seriously. The heavier, krautrock influences throughout the latter deem it a more appropriate successor to 2014’s I’m In Your Mind Fuzz. Be prepared for intense guitars that will immediately transport you to the sounds of the 1970s.
Without reservation, the contained chaos of ‘People-Vultures’ with its chorusing yelps, and the repetitive chanting in ‘Mr. Beat’ coupled with an infectious psyche-rock medley of angsty guitars and synths make for instant anthems and are notable highlights of the album. These songs outline the second purpose of Nonagon Infinity; to create nine anthems to arouse mayhem and inflict whiplash to prospective audience members. And they are successful in this endeavour, just listen to ‘Big Fig Wasp’, now close your eyes and pretend your watching them perform this on a gloriously sunny day at one of the numerous summer festivals they are set to play. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Nonagon Infinity is more than enjoyable, maybe not immediately, and it definitely does require persistence, but it is worth your time. There are several instances where MacKenzie and his troop possess your feet, sending them into rhythmic spasms. It leaves you excited and curious about what is to come from this chameleonic band in the future.