sychedelic rock is a tree with many branches, man. Many think of Pink Floyd’s cosmic atmospheres and soaring leads; sound that floats around your brain as you lie back on the grass, headphones in, and the clouds play out in a circus scene above you. Brick in the Wall turns into Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The left-field melancholy of The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin becomes the neo-psych-pop of Tame Impala’s Lonerism. Things are feeling very laid back indeed. And then comes on Nonagon Infinity by a band called Kind Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Stereotypically, the psychedelic genre is fuelled by some kind of hallucinogenic drug such as LSD. Nonagon Infinity is fuelled by… well… kerosene-based exothermal cocaine.
To give a touch of context, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a psychedelic rock band from Melbourne with a fuzzy, garage style of delivery, prolific output rate and, as of their last few records, a proclivity for doing things a bit differently. After decent critical acclaim for their fifth album I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, the seven-piece put out Quarters! which consisted of 4 ten-minute-long tracks – structurally creative and brimming with trippy guitar lines and surprisingly succinct melodies. Following that, they released the “concept-less” Paper Mâche Dream Balloon, an all-acoustic album (yeah, I know!) designed as a musical “palette cleanser”. Without electronic instruments, they layered quieter sonics to fill the space, creating an album reminiscent of 60s organic, “lulling about in a field” ballads that showcased “the Wizard’s” nifty songwriting. So what to do next?
Stereotypically, the psychedelic genre is fuelled by LSD: Nonagon Infinity is fuelled by kerosene-based exothermal cocaine
Each song nods to previous hooks and predicts future melodies
‘Big Fig Wasp’ stomps out of the tail end of instrumental mania before the vespid buzz of lead single ‘Gamma Knife’ cuts in, and things descend into shamanic nightmare in the wake of the doomy ‘People-Vultures’, vocals hellishly heralding the death of Mother Earth at the hands of its inhabitants. ‘Mr Beat’ offers a welcome change in pace with slick grooves, organ fills and wobbly falsettos, and just as the album looks set to swerve into a something laid back and spacious, ‘Evil Death Roll’ punches you square in the face and driving rhythms pervade once again. ‘Invisible Face’ offers some interesting sonics as it breaks down into uneasy, fluttering jazz. Then, finally (supposing finality exists on this album – if it didn’t we’d all be insane), ‘Wah Wah’ throws some distorted bagpipes into the mix ahead of the raucous climax of ‘Road Train’, which sounds like Lemmy riding through the desert on a terrified camel, whipping it with a burning leather belt, all the while Mad Max characters are stabbing explosive pole-bombs at him from the backs of their spiked dune-buggies.