If you were to ask me for examples of all the wonderful things that have come out of Australia, I feel confident that I would need go no farther than the television soap opera Neighbours (spelt the proper way with a ‘u’ and pronounced the usual way with a silent ‘q’), which wended its way onto the UK’s television screens from 1986 to 2008. The story-lines were Shakespearian in scope, while the acting surpasses my ability to describe. I particularly liked the way in which each episode left us with a cliff-hanger — one could barely sleep at night in anticipation of discovering if Mabel would learn what Darlene had told Sheila about Lucy’s unfortunate encounter with Shane, for example.
Well, I think we can add the Australian rock band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard to the list of wonders from Down Under. I was just watching this video of their relatively recently released single O.N.E.
I feel it’s safe to say that this is a band you either love or loath. Personally, I have a soft spot for their Flying Microtonal Banana album from 2017, which has been described as psychedelic rock, acid rock, and experimental rock, all mixed with Middle Eastern/Turkish music. There are also elements of Krautrock reminiscent of groups like Amon Düül II, Neu!, and Tangerine Dream.
From what I understand, this was King Gizzard’s first-ever experience in microtonal tuning, which involves using intervals smaller than a semitone that are not customarily found in Western tuning octaves. In the case of Flying Microtonal Banana, each octave is divided into 24 (logarithmically) equal-distanced quarter tones. I’m sure I don’t need to mention (but I will) that this schema was originally conceived for playing on a 7-stringed bağlama, which is the most commonly used string folk instrument in Turkey (you’re welcome).
Once again, it has to be acknowledged that King Gizzard isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For example, some comments posted to the Rattlesnake video were a tad harsh, like “Two minutes in and I have listened to this song for five hours” and “Australians with a song about the only venomous snake that doesn’t exist in Australia” and “They write their lyrics like the song is an essay they didn’t study for” and “This song removes unwanted people from the room” and “It’s quite hard to miss, but if you listen really well and digest the lyrics carefully, you may be able to figure out that is song is about the rattlesnake.”
On the other hand, there are also some staunch supporters, like the person who commented, “Kids 20+ years from now are gonna say that they were born in the wrong generation and wish they were around when King Gizzard was at their peak…”
How about you? Are you a King Gizzard groupie or a Down Under detractor?