Label: Heavenly Recordings
Released: 23rd June 2017
“We’ve always thought of our albums as portals through which you can move from one to the other,” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Stu Mackenzie has said. Now, they leave the exotic noodles of February’s ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ at the door for a grand, three-tiered concept album.
‘Murder of the Universe’ sees the Melbourne septet hack a distorted hole in the fabric of our times, stepping into Choose Your Own Adventure worlds where heroes battle mutating nasties (‘The Tale of the Altered Beast’), a Tolkienian creature of fire and shadow tackles the lord of lightning (‘The Lord Of Lightning vs. Balrog’), and a confused cyborg longs for humanity through nausea and death (‘Han-Tyumi And The Murder of the Universe’).
With their work rate, KGATLW would be forgiven the odd misstep, but this certainly isn’t one – it’s the second of five albums planned for 2017, and comfortably among their best. A return to the pummelling psychedelic punk of last year’s ‘Nonagon Infinity’ or 2014’s ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’, but with lo-fi frazzle swapped for an expansive, metallic wallop.
KGATLW clearly love ideas, and enjoy setting themselves challenges – an album recorded wholly acoustically, another designed to loop ad infinitum, another in precise quarters – but the ideas never thwart the execution. It’s so gleefully bizarre, such a heavy, heady space-rocking stew of machine-gun drums, sawing guitars, organ and harmonica jousting and friend-of-the-Gizzard Leah Senior’s deadpan, bardic storytelling that it masks any whiff of sword-and-sorcery pretension.
Only the closing mini-epic about vomiting man-machine Han-Tyumi – complete with ‘Fitter Happier’ text-to-speech narration – falters slightly, for all its digital grinding; gross-out humour which was probably fun to record, but comes off less so, like you’re the only sober punter at their party. A minor gripe, though; mostly, the ‘Murder of the Universe’ sounds like a blast. Rob Mesure