Chunky Shrapnel by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Release date: April 24, 2020
Label: Flightless/ATO Records

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard take a lurch into the past, celebrating their nauseating antics while touring Europe over the last year. The band are notorious for the multiple releases a year and with five albums under their belt in 2017 and two in 2019, they definitely had a good selection of songs to take on the road. I found it to be a diverse selection that made the cut on this double LP, which includes songs from as early as 2013, and is accompanied by a feature length concert film.

The project is aptly called Chunky Shrapnel. The album feels long and slow at points, even with the interludes. I do like the variety of song choice as it has stuff for the experienced Gizz fan and the amateur, although arguably it’s not the best introduction to their sound. The visceral elements of their live performances come through and I definitely feel for the anyone involved in the sound tech at their shows and production over this release.

I enjoyed the listening experiencing with the film alongside the album a lot more than the album alone. It gives some cliché insights into what happens in the green rooms and beyond showing them popping champagne listening to Eddy Current Suppression Ring and skating around new cities, but it also allows some genuinely interesting cinematography to reveal the band’s narrative beyond this. It really shines through in the interludes, which on the album alone didn’t make sense to me. The director, John Stewart, manages to capture the quiet and intimate moments using more abstract portrayals of the band, this is where it is most successful as a project. I enjoy the camera wondering and exploring the finite details of their experiences. Both the drum solos over the traffic and the press conversation overlaying band members carrying out mundane tasks were really surreal and experimental ideas that felt eerie and enthralling. I also loved the way that its shot and colour graded on film which gives it a perfect modern psychedelia vibe.

There was consistent energy over the sets in different countries on the tour and it was interesting seeing how the band enjoyed themselves. The gangs big Ally Pally headliner set made an appearance for ‘Planet B’ and really saw the crowd writhing like maggots and deservedly so because not many bands from their genre can boast a sell-out show so large in London. Madrid and Barcelona also looked pretty savage. However, I don’t think the bands claim that synchronised Dutch rowers is the craziest thing to happen at their shows stands strong, in fact I know so. There are definitely moments where their manic performances aren’t conveyed to their full extent.

The highlight for me is ‘Murder of the Universe’, as the green lights roll in warped with a previous soundcheck and bass begins to oscillate out my speakers I’m transported to the front of the crowd. And when the text to speak robot bellows semi-conscious lyrics into the void of a hypnotised crowd while Stu and Joey cornily dance around on stage, it’s hard to believe you’re not watching something from a downtown Bladerunner bar. I also particularly enjoyed Ambrose serenading Madrid with ‘Let Me Mend the Past’ while crowd surfing, his voice is such a shrill juxtaposition and really reminds you of the diversity and talent within the band.

The finale is a mash up featuring ‘Rattlesnake’ with various other bangers and sees friends and family finishing their set while the gang drink and give out drinks to their extended crew. It’s clear the future for the band in times like these are uncertain but I’ve heard rumours that they’re moving back to flesh out some sounds explored on their five albums in a year project as well as pushing new polymetric and electronic stuff. They are also due to complete some marathon sets and tours across the US later this year. I’m sure King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will continue to throw all their creative energies at this project, I think they’ll be pushing boundaries and making exciting music yet.

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