If King Gizzard would be lauded for something, it would be their ability to effortlessly adapt to various genres and styles of music. In February, the band released the first of five albums to be released in 2017. ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ was an impressive dip into a further layer of experimental psych with the use of microtonal instrumentation to form outright wacky soundscapes. June saw the release of ‘Murder of the Universe’, which was tabbed as “the concept album to end all concepts” and featured a spoken-word narrative.
‘Sketches of Brunswick East’, a surprise release, continues to showcase Gizzard’s musical diversity and confidence with a finely-crafted album of jazz-infused compositions. It’s also a collaborative project with Mild High Club, the solo act of Alex Brettin who is formerly of Mac DeMarco affiliation.
As with most Gizzard albums, the 37-minute-runtime plays out as a continuous mix, with each cut seamlessly transitioning to the next. Whilst vocally sparse in places, Sketches of Brunswick East is brimming with lush psych-jazz melodies, expertly layered to create genuinely interesting compositions well worthy of repeatedly revisiting.
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The one-two punch of ‘D-Day’ & ‘Tezeta’ sees the serene low-key ethos of prior cut ‘Countdown’ substituted with a semi-menacing bassline and scattered ambients and vocal murmurings. Gizzard state this record is the sum of the time the band spend daily around Brunswick East, a suburb in Melbourne, Australia. This influence is clear as day, as you can practically hear the bright Aussie sunshine and pure air seeping out of the recording.
It’s unclear what Mild High Club is credited for exactly, yet his influence is palpable throughout. A genuine effort has been made to ensure these tracks are more attractive for mainstream audiences, which understandably, is the complete opposite of prior release ‘Murder of the Universe’.
The three-part ‘Sketches of Brunswick East’, appearing in a beginning-middle-end sequence, channels the spirit of The Moody Blues through its harmonious flute flourishes and laid-back percussion. In contrast, ‘A Journey To S(Hell)’, with its erratic bassline and electro-aesthetic succeeds in evoking The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’. The clever interplay found in ‘You Can Be Your Silhouette’ jumps between easy-listening and Egyptian mystics through its kooky percussion and snake-like guitars.
Currently, Sketches of Brunswick East stands as Gizzard’s greatest contribution to their discography so far this year. The band further cement their ability to practice a different style altogether, whilst still incorporating the quirks they have established in their relatively short career. Due to the unpredictable nature of the band, it’s impossible to know what they’re cooking up for their fourth release of 2017. For sure, it will be worth experiencing to admire the work ethic and diversity the band has with their music.
Sketches of Brunswick East is out now via Flightless / ATO.