Here we are, the penultimate review in my review series on King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, reviewing one-by-one all five albums the band released in the Human Year 2017. Today’s subject is the fourth, and was released November 17th.
Among the most interesting aspects of this album is its release; the band released the album for absolutely free, and took a step beyond that, encouraging their fans to make their own vinyl pressings to sell, CD’s and even digital postings, claiming “This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD’s, make records.” as well as releasing a slew of artwork for the visual-minded. The music cannot be overshadowed even by that ingenuity, however, as with this record the band released some of their most original, varied, and interesting material ever, while still harkening back to their best material of the past, as almost a prologue to the Gizzverse to the “trained” ear. The record opens with ten-minute epic Crumbling Castle who’s progressive elements and synthy stylization set up perfectly for the most proggy, synthy record the band has ever released, blowing Sketches out of the water. Bordering on atmospheric in areas, (a landscape unknown to the lords of rhythmic trappings) the album also features some of their most complex vocal lines and rhythmic chantings, in songs like Polygondwanaland, Horology, and Tetrachromacy.
Saluting progressive rock giants like King Crimson, Pink Floyd and even Rush, who where in turn saluting Romantic period classical music, with complex bass lines, nearly obtuse rhythmic overlays and perfectly structured changes, the tracks include also a multitude of homages to classical music, in instrumentation; flutes, classical guitar techniques, and hand drums, and in musical structure, although the album certainly forges a brave new path, fusing 21st century synth stylings with those previously established tropes and their own brand of rhythmic riffage and intriguing melodies. Also included in the album is their heaviest moment ever, in the last minute or so of the previously mentioned epic Crumbling Castle.
Perhaps the most original work the group released all year, Polygond’s only real fault is the same as that which plagued previously releases: lack of originality in the context of the work itself, which may seem like a contradiction, but is explained by the bands fierce tendency to fully explore whatever “sound” they are striving for, even to the detriment of variety in the individual album. This release skirts that problem the most effectively of the , however, with tracks ranging from proggy explorations to ambient soundscapes to classic King Gizzard garage rock.
Favorite Tracks: Crumbling Castle, The Fourth Colour, Castle in the Air.
Least Favorite Tracks: Tetrachromacy, Horology.
Overall rating: 7.5/10