It takes guts to put out an entire new album by surprise, just two months after your last one – and six months after the one before it. Most artists would be wrecked, and most discographies simply don’t go that far. But knowing King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, they probably didn’t give this LP much thought once it was done and sealed in plastic. With the pace they’re maintaining, the Australian psych rockers are undoubtedly entrenched in constructing the next one – relieved, perhaps, to unload another sheaf of melodies from their busy minds, but too committed to their 5-in-1-year goal to slow down now. They’re a ceaseless machine, and we’re the lucky ones at the end of the conveyor belt, trying to consume each creation before they pile up and consume us. The third one to roll out this year (by surprise last week), Sketches Of Brunswick East, is a whole new bundle of Gizz-mythology for their fans to break down, twisted by the unmistakable groove of Mild High Club (the L.A. psych pop project of Alexander Brettin), with whom they collaborated.
For an acid rock band known for their aggressive shredding, it also takes guts to put out an album that finds their sound so steeped in jazz and Tropicalia – though by now, King Gizzard’s hardcore base are well accustomed to their genre-bending extemporization, and there’s nothing about Sketches that feels out of character. As one can surmise from the title, as well as the intricately-sketched cover by longstanding Gizzard artist Jason Galea, Sketches Of Brunswick East is an ode to the Melbourne neighborhood where they write and record, as well as an homage to Miles Davis’ iconic Third Stream jazz album, Sketches of Spain. In the vein of Nonagon Infinity (the infinitely-looping LP that blew our minds last year), King Gizzard and Mild High Club forge yet another driving, continuous theme that doesn’t break for a moment from tracks 1 to 13. As the great mind-meld of Stu Mackenzie and Alex Brettin takes shape and reveals itself, the primary concept grows cooler and jazzier until it very nearly loses its balance, tripping and staggering down the street like a kitten drunk on catnip and milk.
“I think we hit it off because our approaches are very different,” said Stu of the collaborative effort. “Alex has studied music, whereas my approach is to fling shit at the wall and see what sticks. I can’t read sheet music at all. But we’re like the two ends of a horseshoe coming to meet in the middle.” The two bands formed a friendship while touring together across North America, Europe, and Australia over the past few years, and Alex reportedly stayed at Stu’s place for three weeks after the last tour, spending most days in the studio working on Sketches Of Brunswick East with the rest of the band. The final result is a highly-rhythmic work of many colors, stuffed with elusive, under-two-minute tracks that slip right by underneath the unbroken theme – album opener “Sketches of Brunswick East I” among them, clocking in at a fleeting 1:20, but later returning with the lengthier parts II and III. “Tezeta,” an early highlight, sprouts from the rubble of “D-Day,” an obligatory Gizzy theme that sets the album’s wild tone. An addictive standout, “The Spider And Me,” is one of the LP’s most intoxicating grooves, and many others (notably, “Dawn To Dusk On Lygon Street”) have whispers of King Gizzard’s more happy-hippie records, à la 2015’s Paper Mâché Dream Balloon. And if you’re one of those fans begging and screaming for them to play “Mr. Beat” at their live shows, “The Book” is arguably its parallel on the new record – a tripped-out, unraveling anthem with lyrics that cut right through the fuzz: “Like it or not, I live by the book.”
“We’re always walking up and down the street all the time,” said Stu of the album’s premise. “Going to get coffee, lugging amps, just constantly wandering Lygon Street and spending a lot of time looking out into the distance, seeing the terrain change as new apartment buildings are erected, watching the cranes build bigger cranes. In that respect, perhaps it represents greater changes that are happening in the wider world, and this is our attempt to find beauty within a place that we spend so much time.” He added, “We don’t expect everyone to like everything that we release, but I hope people can view these five records as one body of work. They’ve been made at the same time, by the same people, in the same place, and they all overlap.”
You can pre-order Sketches Of Brunswick East on 180-gram vinyl & CD here (snag it right now if you haven’t already), and stream the full album on Spotify.
Article: Olivia Isenhart