Music Reviews
Nonagon Infinity

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard Nonagon Infinity

(ATO) Rating - 7/10

Album gimmicks can work. And yet there’s always this inherent denial behind the album format as a whole, that you better damn justify any semblance of ambition and make it as coherent as possible or face the malicious “indulgent” tag. The incredibly prolific Australian seven-piece King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have been churning out one fuzzed-out psychedelic excursion after another with a mostly satisfactory track record that is beginning to challenge John Dwyer’s longstanding tenure with Thee Oh Sees. They operate with such abstract notions that it’s easy to underestimate their creative potential with their avant-garde take on classic garage rock.

The ever-fanciful King Gizzard took a chance at proving that they’re not just a one-trick pony with the release of last year’s Paper Maché Dream Balloon, one that focused on exclusively writing lysergic, flower-power folk songs even when it dutifully followed their obstinate ways. It was the right move considering some of their previous releases tend to blend together with hardly any distinction. Which also clarifies even further how they’re at their most comfortable when writing roundabout musical suites as opposed to writing compact pop arrangements. At first, it seemed as if King Gizzard’s stylistic motifs weren’t meant to be taken that seriously, but on their latest, Nonagon Infinity, the band wear their idiosyncrasies loud and proud.

“Nonagon Infinity opens the door,” singer Stu Mackenzie repeats with a manic insistence over an array of circuital fuzz. Those first words perfectly define their most lopsided musical concept yet: to write the world’s first never-ending album, a forty-minute aural extravaganza that takes off at the starting line and dares you to maintain the pace and never stop. Perhaps their intent is to briefly give you a glimpse into their uncompromising concept before you get too deep into the wormhole; once it starts it constantly provokes you to put a stop to its perpetual insanity, keeping things fast and loose and with just enough variety to keep one alert.

Nonagon Infinity is composed of a sprawling movement spliced into nine almost-imperceptible divisions that go by quickly without notice, and certain patterns and words reappear throughout, lending the entire experience a fairly mind-bending perplexity. It’d be somewhat of a disservice to classify them by name since Nonagon relishes and celebrates its use of repetition, since it slightly alters its muscular riffs and looping motorik percussion nine times over. But it does have its notable wild cards - the Dave Brubeck-like jazz shuffle found in Invisible Face and Wah Wah (which also has, you guessed it, wah wah guitar effects) is a welcome moment of respite, while Mr. Beat employs a more soulful, paisley vibe that instantly differentiates itself from the album’s heavy emphasis on metal-informed virtuosity. It makes for something of a experimental jam session where its members are trying to perfect a unified sound alongside different lyrical approaches, which strike a fine balance between campy sci-fi imagery and silly, doom-laden metal tropes.

And yet, once it’s fused all together it comes across as one big slab of raucous, careening psychedelia. King Gizzard are still grounded to their garage roots, though playing with its conventions to their own playful accord, given that they choose to bring some PR-friendly verbiage to their clever scheme when the actual music already speaks for itself. As far as gimmicks go, though, they do brandish their precarious concept like it’s serious business. It’s a mighty incentive to keep us weirdos listening.