King Gizzard have released many outstanding records in their relatively short time together but nothing has been as ambitious as their work in 2017, in which they plan to release four more albums ahead of Flying Microtonal Banana.
Future projects aside, Flying Microtonal Banana is a truly innovative record in a sea of contemporary psych-rock. The amount of effort and creative thought that was given to this project is ever present, with the use of custom-made guitars that offer the microtonal/ Eastern flair throughout each track, the lyricism that envisions a dark and leering future for the environment and a double drumkit that keeps the album rolling from track to track.
The album kicks off with “Rattlesnake”, a fast and hard driving jam that presents a pre-chorus that is almost as fulfilling as the infectious chants of “rattlesnake” in between verses. This track utilizes musical incline to the fullest, creating a suspenseful feeling as vocalist Stu Mackenzie accelerates the tempo and goes higher into his register. In hindsight, the placement of this song in the tracklisting could not have been any better.
Other memorable tracks include “Melting”, “Open Water” and “Nuclear Fusion” just to name a few. “Melting” wins the prize for having the best percussion section of this album due to its beautiful; fast-jazz rhythm married with the synthetic organ to form the ominous feelings mentioned earlier. Splitting the world “melting” into pseudo syllables as “meh-el-lit-ting” is another amazing feat that actually works and shows one example of the inventive songwriting on this record. “Open Water” stands out as the most progressive track on this record, with its multiple repeat verses and choruses that continuously throw in contrasting instrumentation with each repeat.
(As a sidenote, the “flying banana” guitar has an insane solo on this track that led me to dig deeper into the production of this album. Here’s a video from the band that cleared a lot of the questions I had.)
With “Nuclear Fusion”, the track opens and closes with a warped and pitched down variation of the melody that is played throughout the song, providing the track with a visible sense of direction and does a fantastic job at telling the listener what the main focal point should be.
Other smaller tidbits that are worth mentioning include the mixing on this album. Every song flows together seamlessly, like an endless ride. There are many records that attempt this effect, but very few pull it off to a standard that stands out in the crowd. This is achieved in multiple different styles but my favorite transition has to be between the wispy air sounds between “Rattlesnake” and “Melting”. This record also has a tangible theme extending across the first and last track both lyrically and musically. The message appears to be all about pollution and I appreciate the subtleties and metaphors used to mask this theme in a perfect harmony that does not sound preachy but simply informative. The audible theme comes from the zurna, a central Eurasian wind instrument that creates the snake charmer sound that weaves back and forth between the tracklist. This helps to create familiarity with the listener and really grounds the album into its own niche. All of that said, it can be slightly annoying after many listen and especially to new listeners that are not familiar with the album yet.
In conclusion, King Gizzard have come through again with a record that could arguably be considered their best. With four more albums coming this year, I look forward to seeing what could possibly top this release. My honest opinion of this album is an 8.5/10.