King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard don’t wear their influences on their sleeve– they chew them up digest them and barf them onto the front of their shirts. This Aussie seven-piece makes Krautpunk for the video-game generation. With two drummers and a four-piece rhythm section that–depending on the moment–includes three guitars, harmonica, synth and flute, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are all about excess and self indulgence.
Murder the Universe is the group’s second in a line of five albums the band has promised to release this year. If the band does intend to make good on that promise it seems almost impossible that the next releases could get any stranger than Murder of the Universe. The disc features 21 tracks organized into three distinct movements–the first of which is narrated in 60s psych style by a gentle female voice that from time to times breaks in over psychedelic freakouts to “I am the saber the catapult and bat the top of the food chain in my habitat I am the demon bearing misery and fear and I spy you convulsing in misery from way over here.” Lead singer Stu Mackenzie calls forth the “Altered Beast” to “alter me!” over spastic synths, spiky guitar fits and a dual drum attack that keeps the action frantic and a kin to a dance mix for the mutant apocalypse.
The second movement, with standouts “Lord of Lightning and “Balrog,” plays out like a megamix tape designed for an anime battle scene or a video game boss fight. While the first movement is soaked in psychedelia and punk abandon, the second is a bit more progressive–steeped in both metal tropes and increasingly off-kilter narratives. It offers the album’s most accessible songs–aside from the intrusive narratives.
The third movement is narrated by Han-Tyumi, an OK Computereque android tortured by its own existence and sounds has a sharp nihilistic Sex Pistols-like bent. “Despondent, lugubrious, no future/We turned our bodies to computer/We are our own nature, abuser/No future, computer, abuser,” Mackenzie snarls like Johnny Rotten. The album gets darker from there as the Han-Tyumi introduces his “soy protein munt machine,” a creature that laments, “I am covered in vomit/I am coated in sick/I have no name and no place/This is no way to live”
Album closers “Vomit Coffin” (a nihilistic punk kissoff) and “Murder of the Universe” (an atmospheric spoken word track) are perverse, unsettling and captivating. Murder of the Universe is the culmination of unchecked creativity, glorious experimentation and daring compositions. If the band has three albums left in them this year after this tour-de-force I’d be surprised but extremely impressed.