Track Review: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard- Rattlesnake

Less than a year out from their excellent full length record Nonagon Infinity, garage psych warriors King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have returned with “Rattlesnake”, a teaser track for their upcoming 9th album with the unlikely title of Flying Microtonal Banana, the first of a reported FIVE ALBUMS the band are scheduled to release in 2017. Yeah, these guys aren’t fucking around. This is poised to be the opening track on the album, and from the looks of it, the longest track at just under eight minutes, and right away this carries a pretty different vibe from a lot of the tracks on Nonagon Infinity. Whereas the last album was manic and all over the place (in the very best possible way, mind you) the band demonstrates incredible restraint on “Rattlesnake”. The tone here is meditative and mesmerizing, and ambience plays an important role during the second half of the track, with windy sound effects fading in and out as the arrangement grows sparser and at some points threatening to take over the mix, only to be tentatively forced back. The krautrock is certainly strong with this one. I’ve mentioned NEU! quite a lot since I’ve started this blog, and while they did have a big influence on new wave in the late 70s and early 80s, it’s interesting to see how that band’s influence is also starting to show itself in the digital era. This song is an example of a band taking the rhythmic feel that those 70s experimental rock groups pioneered and being much more tuneful in going about it at that. The whole composition is based on this single repetitive, driving Motorik-style beat which suggests a sense of mechanistic propulsion, at a pace that’s faster than mid-tempo, but slower than fast, and essentially carries a harmonic pedal-tone drone with a bunch of different lines happening on top. I think this sort of approach is part of what separates what this band has been doing on their last couple of records from a lot of these other garagey retro-psych acts, in that their music doesn’t really focus on the looseness as much. While their earlier records definitely fall more into the standard modern garage rock vibe, their last couple (barring the acoustic folk-rock tangent of 2015’s Paper Mache Dream Baloon) have really seen the band come into a much more original sound in my opinin. Whereas Thee Oh Sees (another band with two drummers who release albums at an insane rate) are rooted in a punky energy that feels like the whole performance could fall apart any second now, King Gizzard take virtue in tight angularity, with robotic vocals and spiky guitar lines. “Spidery” is the word I would use to describe it. The melodies seem to crawl above and around the hypnotic backing track while staying locked in with the rigid feel of the rhythm section. Overall I’m really digging this, and I’m hoping that this teaser is representative of the quality of the album as a whole. This is only one track, however, and the band are not above throwing curveballs at us, so we’ll see where the band’s far out adventures take us next.

Their new album comes out January 1st, check out the gloriously cheesy lo-fi music video for “Rattlesnake” here:

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