King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – October Retrospective

by Ethan Swan

[The band posted this teaser on their facebook in September 2022.]

October 2022 was a great, if not hectic, month to be a King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard fan. 

So far this year, KGLW put out five original LPs consisting of just over four hours of new music (not including the two-hour remix album). Keen observers might compare this to their famous 2017 output, in which they ambitiously released five original LPs over the whole year. A key difference between 2022 and 2017, however, is that this time they released three albums in October alone.

Now, even as a seasoned Gizzard listener myself, this can be a lot to parse through. With so much new music from one group in a month, how does anyone know where to begin, or what tracks to take away for long term listening? I’m here to help. You’ve got a busy schedule, so I’ll save you some time by giving an overview and some hand-picked rec’s from each of October’s releases.

Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava – 10/7

…or as I call it for short, Ice, Death. King Gizzard’s first album of the month is an amalgamation of the group’s various jam styles, represented well by the seemingly AI-derived cover art and music videos.

The LP opens with Mycelium, a light jam hinging between jazz fusion and the group’s old-school slow jam tendencies, which is carried out over most of the album. The next track, Ice V, is an energetic, melodic refinement of this style that stands apart from the more spaced-out jams to follow. 

Iron Lung then picks the momentum back up, and is an instant favorite here at KURE. King Gizzard spins you a harrowing tale about being housed in one of these respirators, decorating the scene with a procedurally evolving jam that blends the group’s newer sounds with ones reminiscent of 2017’s Polygondwanaland. The track is also paired with a mesmerizing visualizer that evokes the procedurally generated mashup of styles and sounds found on Ice, Death.

Laminated Denim – 10/12

The more succinctly-named second album of the month, Laminated Denim, is also much shorter in length than its predecessor, consisting of only two long-jam tracks: The Land Before Timeland and Hypertension. Done in the same style as March’s Made in Timeland, and in fact featuring a title that’s an anagram of the previous one, Laminated Denim continues the narrative from earlier this year. 

All four songs across the two LPs are exactly 15 minutes each, similar in style and format to 2015’s Quarters, which featured four slow jams each the same length. The Land Before Timeland is truer to the old-school slow jam style, but Hypertension provides a modern rendition with lots of variation and catchy hooks that sound straight off of Gumboot Soup

If you liked Quarters, or just want an hour of smooth, Gizzardy goodness to put on in the background, then I suggest listening to Made in Timeland and Laminated Denim back to back.

Changes – 10/28

A departure from the rest of the month in many ways, King Gizzard closes out their three-album run with their most structured and stylistically consistent record in a while, Changes

The title track caps off the month’s reign of long jam tracks, easing gracefully into the established KG brand of psych-pop found on such records as K.G. and L.W. The increasing focus on pop-y hooks is a welcome change of pace, with Hate Dancin’ setting the polished tone perfectly. 

Astroturf follows to once again suggests a jazzier Polygondwanaland, and No Body features eerie guitar and drum hooks, creating a Hotel California-esque ambience. Gondii brings swirling synths into the mix to complement frenetic vocal melodies, creating a tense wind-up before slowing into the pensive Exploding Suns. The final track, Short Change, is a playful followup to the first track, featuring melodic callbacks to earlier parts of the album, and vibraphones that sound exactly like they got lifted from Super Mario World on the SNES (listen to the first few seconds of the track, you’ll hear what I mean). In my eyes, Changes has the most standout moments of any of the month’s albums, and I believe many will find it the most accessible and revisited of the three.

It would be foolish to underestimate King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s work ethic, but if they were to call it a year, then we could certainly use at least a couple months to chew on their best of 2022 (lest we forget the gigantic Omnium Gatherum from April). Even in October’s releases alone, fans of each of King Gizzard’s eras are sure to find their fix amongst the plentitude of jams and overall strangeness spanning from Ice, Death to Changes, so don’t be afraid to dive in!

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