King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have done it again. Their fourth of a promised five albums in 2017 has just dropped, and it’s a doozy. The wonderfully titled Polygondwanaland features some of the group’s most primordial, doom-and-drone-laden prog rock to date.
From the beginning of album-opening behemoth “Crumbling Castle,” the album feels like it’s crawling out of the soup that spawned the world. Spindly guitar melodies wrap themselves up in a race to the top, while the surging rhythm section bubbles underneath and gives the music a terrific depth, especially towards the end, when the song shifts into blinding garage psych before melting into some of the most sludgy, pulverizing heaviness the band has ever laid to tape.
Surfacing out of the black hole of sludge is the absolutely beautiful title track, with spritely acoustic guitar and flute trading lead duties over meditative, uplifting synths (oh, the synths!). From here, the album starts going all over the place stylistically, as of course is King Gizzard’s MO. Their influence from and love of progressive rock and krautrock is on full display, with a roiling dynamic that makes the album equal parts Dune soundtrack that never was and blinding desert psychedelia.
As with previous King Gizzard releases, there are a few cycling musical motifs throughout the record, but overall this is a very diverse record; at times pummeling, later on light and airy, it’s one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in a while. Their myriad stylistic influences are well-known at this point, but it’s still something to hear them branch in so many different directions and produce such a cohesive piece of material.
Of course, we can’t discuss this album without mentioning their unique delivery method this time around: King Gizzard announced two days before the album’s release that it would be entirely free. Not only this, but the band released the audio masters for the CD and vinyl versions, along with artwork templates and all necessary metadata for fans to create their own CDs and LPs.
The band’s fan base, known for their dedication and passion for collecting physical copies of the group’s music, has come together in an astonishing way to get the physical media of the music out there, with the group’s permission to sell for a profit. As King Gizzard themselves put it: “We do not own this record. You do. Go forth, share, enjoy.”
As their magnificent album run draws ever nearer to its exhausting finish line (for this year at least), King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard stand poised to achieve rock n’ roll greatness. They’ve managed to put forth a staggering amount of widely varying material in such a short period of time, and we’re still due for one more before year’s end! In the meantime though, Polygondwanaland is a delicious, heaping slag of prehistoric desert space rock, and I cannot wait to see what the fans come up with for the physical copies. If you respect your ears, download the album and strap in.