By Nicholas Kobe, Contributor
Key tracks: “The Land Before Timeland”, “Hypertension”
A new project has dropped from King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, which is frankly a miracle. King Gizzard’s fans had been waiting an agonizing five days since the release of their last album. Sarcasm aside, King Gizzard has one of the most insane output schedules in all of music. 22 albums deep, just over 10 years into their career. The band’s sound has ranged from psych, prog, electronic, metal, punk, acoustic and literally everything in between. The most recent leg of their career has been dominated by experimentation. This can be clearly seen in their first album from October, Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava, an album of seven songs, all based on each of the seven musical modes.
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The fact that this kind of experimentation continues onto Laminated Denim probably isn’t much of a surprise. This record, however, is more of a loose jam. It has two songs, “The Land Before Timeland” and “Hypertension”, each exactly fifteen minutes long. This is the exact same as the structure of Made in Timeland, their record from earlier this year. The comparison is pretty clear, each being composed of two 15 minute songs, the similar clock imagery in the album art, and not to mention that Timeland is name dropped in the first track of Laminated Denim. Both records were released digitally the same day, but Made in Timeland had been available on vinyl for months before. I spend so much time talking about Made in Timeland because it gives a good comparison to Laminated Denim. Both are jam-focused records, where the band just played for hours and recorded some of the best bits. The big difference, however, is that Made in Timeland is more electronically focused, while Laminated Denim is more psych and prog rock.
Experimental and jammy psych is a very time honored tradition, and Laminated Denim slots in quite nicely. I actually do think that these two jams are some of the more compelling of King Gizzard’s recent output. Starting with “The Land Before Timeland”, there are memorable hooks, guitar leads and infectious grooves that make this more than 30 minutes of just random notes. The contrast of the metronome (60bpm) and the actual rhythm of the song makes this polyrhythmic, and the upbeat nature of the instrumental makes it really fun to listen to. The lyrics are scattered with references to other King Gizzard songs and concepts that, frankly, would take a whole college thesis for me to explain. It sort of tells the story of an out-of-body journey to a dystopian future? Though, its upbeat instrumental makes even lyrics like “Satanic Journeyman” feel pretty non-threatening.
The other song, “Hypertension”, is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a lot more uncomfortable and tense than the pleasant little jam we just came from. Starting with booming Timpani and leaning a lot more into the distortion, the song does not fully lose the groove or energy that “The Land Before Timeland” brought. I lean towards this as my favorite of the two tracks. I love the way the tension builds in across the song, and how the distorted guitars and talkbox effects clash with the bass and drumming to make it feel right in the middle of groove and stress. This song is also filled with references to other King Gizzard songs and is, on a broader level, meant to represent the bad trip in comparison to the more pleasant experience on “The Land Before Timeland”. It’s not the most dramatic difference in the world. This adds to the album being cohesive, but also, it does diminish a bit from the intended contrast.
If long psych jams, or King Gizzard in general is your thing, I think you’ll like this one. King Gizzard bats a pretty good average, with all of their many projects having pretty consistent quality. On the other hand, the fact that there will be five projects by the end of the year (and three in one month) means that the oversaturation of Gizzard is a real problem. The sheer size of the King Gizzard discography makes Laminated Denim not stick out as much, and I worry that despite its quality, the sheer size of Gizzard will make this record fall to the wayside.