Vandaag is een bijzondere dag in de Gizzverse. De Australische band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard brengt hun single Ice V  uit. Daar blijft het echter niet bij: de band deelt de album titels en release-data met ons van de drie albums die zij in oktober uit zullen brengen. Het eerste album  heet Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava en komt uit op 7 oktober. Gevolgd door Laminated Denim die nog geen week later (12 oktober) uitkomt. De band is sneller dan het licht, want het vijfde album dat ze dit jaar uitbrengen, Changes, komt op 28 oktober uit. Van het eerste album dat ons in oktober zal vergezellen, komt vandaag de single Ice V uit.

Today, Australia’s prolific atom-splitting polymaths King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard exceed even the most hyperbolic projections and announce the upcoming release of THREE new albums, all set for flight during the month of October via their own KGLW label. The first to drop will be the Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava, out October 7th. Following that will be Laminated Denim, dropping somewhat unconventionally on October 12th, a Wednesday. Finally, on October 28th the band will release Changes, their 5th album of the year. Additionally, they have shared a video for one of the songs off the first of this album triumvirat, “Ice V.” This will all be happening during the height of Gizz’s North American Takeover, as the band traverses across the continent playing their largest venues yet, including three shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater (2 of which are sold out) and New York’s Forest Hills Stadium (where Dylan went electric, no less). As a special treat to those who come and see the band live at some of their biggest shows, limited stock of Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava will be available at their Greek Theater show in Berkeley, copies of Laminated Denim will be available at Red Rocks, and Changes can be obtained at the Orpheum in New Orleans.

Things move fast in the Gizzverse, and before Stu Mackenzie and his bandmates had even completed work on their recent mammoth double album Omnium Gatherum, they’d started sketching out this next record. Their Omnium Gatherum single “The Dripping Tap” had begun life as a handful of ideas and riffs that had arisen at pre-pandemic soundchecks and demos recorded through lockdown. For this new album, however, the group wouldn’t be bringing in any pre-written songs or ideas; instead, they planned to cook up all the music together in the studio, on the spot. “All we had prepared as we walked into the studio were these seven song titles,” says Mackenzie. “I have a list on my phone of hundreds of possible song titles. I’ll never use most of them, but they’re words and phrases I feel could be digested into King Gizzard-world.” Mackenzie selected seven titles from his list that he felt “had a vibe,” and then attached a beats-per-minute value to each one. Each song would also follow one of the seven modes of the major scale: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.

Over seven days, the group recorded hours and hours of jams, dedicating a day to each mode and BPM. “Naturally, each day’s jams had a different flavor, because each day was in a different scale and a different BPM,” Mackenzie says. “We’d walk into the studio, set everything up, get a rough tempo going and just jam. No preconceived ideas at all, no concepts, no songs. We’d jam for maybe 45 minutes, and then all swap instruments and start again.” The group ended each day with four-to-five hours of new jams in the can. Mackenzie auditioned those jams after the sessions were done, stitching them together into the songs that feature on the 21st studio album by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava (the initials of the title, IDPLMAL, spell out a mnemonic for the modes). Having assembled full working instrumentals from these jams, Mackenzie and his bandmates began overdubbing flute, organ, percussion and extra guitar over the top. The lyrics, meanwhile, were a group effort. “We had an editable Google Sheet that we were all working on,” says Mackenzie. “Most of the guys in the band wrote a lot of the lyrics, and it was my job to arrange it all and piece it together.”

The result of this radical, experimental creative process is one of the densest, most unpredictable statements from a band whose work always rockets in from unexpected angles accompanied by a wealth of subtext and theorems. But you don’t even need even a passing understanding of those Ancient Greek musical modes to appreciate this adventurous new music.

For half a decade, the sextet has been haunted by one elusive conceptual project that had bested their every attempt (of which there had been several). They first conceived the album back in 2017, a busy year for the group. Within a mere twelve months, they recorded and released five albums of new material, but the band had intended to see out the year with a different album. That album was called Changes, and it’s finally arriving now. “I think of Changes as a song-cycle,” says band-member Stu Mackenzie. “Every song is built around this one chord progression – every track is like a variation on a theme. But I don’t know if we had the musical vocabulary yet to complete the idea at that time. We recorded some of it then, including the version of “Exploding Suns” that’s on the finished album. But when the sessions were over, it just never felt done. It was like this idea that was in our heads, but we just couldn’t reach. We just didn’t know yet how to do what we wanted to do.”

The group abandoned Changes and instead prepared the beguiling Gumboot Soup (the last of five albums the band released in 2017), and were then quickly ensnared by about eight other outlandish ideas that sent them in infinite new directions. But the concept of Changes did not go gently into that good night. “We really have been tinkering with it since then,” Mackenzie adds.

“It’s not necessarily our most complex record, but every little piece and each sound you hear has been thought about a lot,” Mackenzie adds. Indeed, the album has gestated over a fitfully inventive five years. Originally imagined as the group’s fifth album of 2017, it has ended up the fifth album King Gizzard will release in 2022. Coincidences like this, Mackenzie says, wake up the latent numerologist within him. But the album has taught him that projects operate to their own schedules and are ready when they’re ready.

Good things come to those who wait, and the magnificent Changes is worth every one of the 2,628,000 minutes King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard invested in it. Soaked in the warm sonics of 70s R’n’B and guided by simple chord-changes that contain multitudes and rounding out another remarkable year for the group, Changes is a luminous, soft-pop marvel. Come lose yourself in its slow-cooked brilliance.

18 september 2022
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