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Albums Of The Week: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard | Omnium Gatherum

The prolific Australian maximalists’ 20th studio album has something for everyone.

WHO ARE THEY? The insanely prolific, creatively restless Australian sextet whose sound encompasses everything from indie rock, psychedelia and prog to country, metal and electronica, depending on what mood they happen to be in that week.

WHAT IS THIS? Their 20th studio album in a decade (I told you they were prolific), first double album, and second release of the year, following last month’s more experimental and conceptual outing Made In Timeland and last year’s keyboard-driven Butterfly 3000.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A little bit of everything. And anything. In keeping with its title, the 16-song set covers the band’s musical waterfront, delivering everything from blazing guitar-rock flights and metallic post-punk blasts to soulful grooves, funky jams, catchy indie-pop, ’60s flute-folk and more — along with tons and tons of gong.

WHAT ARE THE MOST REVEALING LYRICS? “You will say I’m crazy / I will go on my way because it’s what I need / I’d cross a thousand seas just to prove I’m not mad.”

WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? An Embarrassment Of Riches.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? With your guard down, your mind freed and your preconceptions out the window.

WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Intricate, diverse, maximalist, experimental, playful, vibrant, surprising, groovy, layered, enigmatic.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? It’s pretty hard to beat the opening track — the shape-shifting 18-minute psyche-rock epic The Dripping Tap — but Predator X, Sadie Sorceress, Persistence and Blame It On The Weather come pretty close.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? “I know we just spent 80 minutes listening to it — but can we hear it again?”

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? If you’re anything like me, this will be your world for the next while. And your happy place.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE A RESTAURANT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? An all-you-can-eat buffet (remember those?).

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Given that these guys regularly give away live albums for free at their website, ponying up for this is only right.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Following 2020’s KG and 2021’s LW and Butterfly 3000, Omnium Gatherum was the first time King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard recorded together as a band since the COVID pandemic hit and Melbourne placed its citizens under a series of prohibitive lockdown measures. Omnium Gatherum’s sprawling 16 tracks of gonzoid prog jams, dizzying pop nuggets, rubber-legged hip-hop odysseys and passages of pure thrash-metal abandon offer plenty for Gizzard fans and neophytes alike to chew on.

Typically, Gizzard albums pursue a single theme or style — for example, Infest The Rat’s Nest’s eco-themed metal barrage, or Butterfly 3000’s new age trance-pop, or Nonagon Infinity’s endless garage-prog contortions — and part of the thrill of Omnium Gatherum for the group was the opportunity of new ideas without committing to deliver an entire album in that vein. It’s the perfect entry point for newcomers, and a solid treat for the faithful as well.

Omnium Gatherum feels like a greatest hits album in its variety and the strength of the songs — only you’ve never heard any of these tracks before. It’s the sound of a group operating at their absolute peak, a group motivated by a deserved confidence that they could try their hands at anything. It’s also the sound of a group ready to return to the road after two fallow years — a handful of live shows in Australia, performed in the brief windows between lockdowns, has reawakened King Gizzard’s taste for live action.

Of the single Magenta Mountain, Ambrose Kenny-Smith says: “You know when you have a really weird vivid dream and it sticks with you like glue? One day I came into the studio and Stu (Mackenzie, the band’s chief songwriter) was trying to write one of them down. He kept banging on about this paradise called Magenta Mountain that he had seen but none of us believed him. Every day since then he’s been still trying to convince us all that it’s real and one day he will.”

The band have played the track at their shows before, but this is the official studio recording release. This video, directed by John Angus Stewart, is synched to one of the band’s live performances in Melbourne. “Magenta Mountain is a new track, which can always be a tricky one to film live as people are yet to have digested the song on their own,” says Stewart. “So we decided to use the normally unseen infrastructure of a gig to guide us through the performance. Giving the audience a ‘protagonist’ for a live show, in this case the watchful and sometimes forceful eye of a security guard. The brute in hi-vis clearing a path through sweaty fans is a beautiful thing to behold.”