King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard just will not stop blowing our minds. After the mystical and murky Flying Microtonal Banana and the earth-shattering Murder of the Universe, they’ve released the third of their five planned albums this year: the heavily jazz-based, Miles Davis-inspired love letter to their current base of operations, Sketches of Brunswick East, in collaboration with California-based Mild High Club. In keeping with the Gizzard tradition, it is a totally different band then we’ve ever heard before.
Starting out sounding like The Doors dipped in Frank Zappa, Sketches quickly moves into hazy, loping psychedelic soul; the kind of music you would play as you walk down the street on a bright, sunny Saturday morning, preferably to get some ice cream. The tunes meander through gooey, melodic spats of proggy jazz fusion, replete with dazzling guitar effects, soothing flutes, dancing bass, and squishy keyboards. There are some delicious jazz solos scattered throughout, and once again the songs melt into one another, making for an extremely pleasant seamless listening experience.
This album in particular also establishes that King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are truly unbound by conventional stylistic limitations, as the lush, tropical instrumentation is a complete 180 from their previous blistering rock n’ roll, and has only been hinted at in earlier albums. It is quite evident that many of these tunes are the product of intense improvisational sessions, and the focus of the sound is taken in a new direction as well, with the bass playing a much more prominent melodic role, with phasing wah-wah effects on the guitars and delicate, flighty flute/key lead lines.
As usual (and particularly with King Gizzard albums), I recommend listening to the whole thing in one sitting. They’ve really perfected the art of songs that segue right into each other, creating records greater than the sum of their parts. The ambient sounds on Sketches of Brunswick East (chirping birds, airy breeze, etc.) really lend themselves to the sun-soaked beach feel as well, basically making the album a portal to a peaceful world of calm relaxation. The music does briefly head out into some space rock territory, with soaring, otherworldly synth melodies that drift away into the ether, only to fall right back into some warm, sauntering jazz.
Look, I might be biased because I’m a giant fanboy of the band, but seriously, if you’re not listening to King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard yet, you’re really missing out. Sketches of Brunswick East sees a band that hasn’t even begun to peak, producing music that is simultaneously focused yet-shapeshifting in its direction, taking a dramatic left turn from where you thought they were heading. There are two more albums in the works for this year, and who even knows where we’ll see the band on those, but for now, I am happy to put Sketches on repeat and never stop listening.
Rating: 10 out of 10