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Everyone Should Listen To: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - I’m In Your Mind Fuzz
By: Cameron Rogers
These guys are hardly an unknown outfit. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard (henceforth referred to as King Gizz) are one of the few decent rock bands in a scene that is otherwise all but dead. This is most likely due to their experimental take on different sub-genres of rock (in some cases jazz, metal, and punk), as well as their exploration of alternative tuning, in particular microtonal tuning.
Fans tend to point newbies towards one of the band’s more reputable projects such as the thrash flavoured “Infest the Rat’s Nest”, the unrelenting “Nonagon Infinity” (seemingly everyone’s personal favourite), or the more accessible “Gumboot Soup”. In doing so, however, one runs the risk of skipping over the group’s great early work by diving in mid-catalogue. While King Gizz have gotten better with age, some of their best material still lurks within the early days of their extensive back catalogue (17 studio albums in 9 years). In particular, “Quarters!” and “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” are rock solid projects that mark an evolution in the band’s sound. The latter shall be the focus of this article.
The group’s fifth album sounds like someone took a psychedelic rock steak and put it through a garage rock shaped meat grinder. The recording quality is very gritty, to such an extent that a listener could think this album was contemporaneous with early Beach Boys. The reverb on the instruments is turned up to the maximum - usually a move that I find incredibly obnoxious, yet King Gizz manages to pull it off. This has all the makings of a knock off 70s sounding album of the ilk that Kevin Parker would make in his early Tame Impala days.
What separates this project from that calibre of album is the songwriting. King Gizz follow the typical psychedelic rock tropes with self-explanatory lyrics (“everybody’s lazy when they’re tired” being a case in point) and gratingly reverb-heavy guitars. Yet the album offers so much more than the aforementioned. The opening four song medley features hints of blues, progressive rock, and surf rock all executed over the top of the same lively 4/4 drum beat. This opener is groovy and has enough variation to keep the listener interested, despite the fact the core structure of the four songs remains unchanging.
The band has the perfect ratio of relaxed and hectic vibes throughout the project to make it unpredictable. The charming “Empty” and whispered “Hot Water” (which features a recurring medley within King Gizz’s back catalogue) are welcome breathers. This sets up track 7, “Am I in Heaven”, my favourite song on the album, perfectly. The energy of this track is a precursor to the material on the band’s most acclaimed record, “Nonagon Infinity”. This mosh-friendly song has just enough swing to it that you could show it to your boomer relatives and watch them get nostalgic. Something for the whole family. If this doesn’t make you want to go nuts then I don’t know what will.
The album then ties up nicely with three more songs that slow the pace down - “Slow Jam 1”, “Satan Takes the Wheel” and “Her & I (Slow Jam II)”. The wavy keyboards on Slow Jam 1 and guitar on Satan Takes the Wheel are a chef’s kiss within both of these tracks. Her & I (Slow Jam II) takes the cake though. King Gizz consistently nails album closers, and this is no exception. The jammy section of this song is perfect for any activity involving tokes, which is perhaps where the inspiration for this track comes from.
The one major complaint I have with this project is the production on a lot of the guitars. It is hard not to cringe or recoil when the reverb for many of the guitar solos kicks in, with both the opening medley and Am I in Heaven being guilty of eardrum bursting sections. It is also not the most daringly original album within the band’s prolific discography, especially when compared with King Gizz’s later work. Perhaps part of the reason why many people overlook this album is due to this lack of originality.
The aforementioned issues should not detract from what is otherwise a great listening experience. The project is lively, quirky, and above all psychedelic. It is an homage to the style of music it is wearing, and a damn good homage at that. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you overlook it.