What Jazz-Rock Performed By Crazy People Sounds Like In The 21st Century

A band that promises to deliver five albums in one calendar year has got to be blessed with an abundance of creative musical ideas. They’ve also got to be out of their fucking minds. How can any of your music gain any audience traction when you are flooding the market with material? In the biz they call it “diluting the product”. Too much quantity reduces the chances that audiences will discover your best quality material, which is why most sensible artists strive to only put their best foot forward.

Well King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are not sensible artists by any definition of the word. They are a collection of Australian madmen who do not seem bound by any industry or musical conventions whatsoever. And within the abundance of music they churn out, some of it is really good. My colleague Christopher has championed this band for years and turned me onto them in the process. This week he reviewed Sketches of Brunswick East, the band’s eighth album since 2014 (!) and I feel compelled to do the same because I really dig this album. Let’s just say King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are a consensus pick here at Rocknuts.

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Their last album, Murder Of The Universe, which was only released several weeks ago, was their “metal” album, complete with grandiose spoken word sections telling a very mettalish story of the human race being taken over by cyborgs. This album is totally, completely different, being touted as their “jazz” album, which is right up my alley. I’ve been wondering for quite some time if and when Jazz-Rock was going to be revived, and although this album doesn’t exactly constitute a revival, it gives a you taste of what a modernized Jazz-Rock might sound like.

It sounds like Frank Zappa going Loungecore, or maybe Country Joe and the Fish going Prog. The key element is great musicianship combined with a playful sense of humor, which keeps things light even when they get weird. The album title is an obvious nod to Miles Davis’ Sketches Of Spain, and a couple of the instrumentals are definitely Miles-esque in feel. The Bossa Nova is played for laughs a couple of times, and there are a couple of keyboard synth vamps that are played for grooves.

Sketches of Brunswick East is officially a collaboration between King Gizzard and an L.A. band called Mild High Club, which is one of the most aptly-named bands I’ve ever heard. Their predilection for laid-back, off-beat takes on various Pop idioms turned out to be a pretty good fit for the Gizzard’s virtuosity and adventurousness.

But I can’t help but wonder if King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard had devoted more time and energy to this album – at the expense of the other four albums they are releasing this year – they might have smoothed out some of the rough spots and turned it into a really great album.

One comment to “What Jazz-Rock Performed By Crazy People Sounds Like In The 21st Century”
  1. This is perfect. People need to know more about these guys. This is the future right here. The ambition is impressive but, could be a pain point at the same time. Sketches is exactly is at sounds, a fun album that feels like rough sketches.

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