The idea of a King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard double album is already redundant. As far back as The White Album and Exile on Main Street, the double album has been a medium for artists to take creative risks, expand their sonic palettes, and forego the constraint of succinctness. This tradition continues today, evidenced by the high-profile double albums of 2022 so far (Beach House, Big Thief). But King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a band that has released a whopping 19 studio albums in about 10 years. In 2017, they promised five separate releases and, shockingly, followed through. If the double album represents an increasingly wide scope, then KGLW’s entire career is already in that spirit—a never-ending stream of ideas, explorations, risks, and constant releases.
Constant and unrelenting much like “The Dripping Tap,” the 18-minute opener to their first double album Omnium Gatherum (the irony of opening their 20th studio album with a jam-odyssey called “The Dripping Tap” cannot be lost on the band). On first impression, “The Dripping Tap” signals a return to form for KGLW; its crunched-up guitars and sprawling solos recall the “classic” King Gizz sound of their psych-rock albums I’m In Your Mind Fuzz or Flying Microtonal Banana. But the song does more than indulge in its own length: it’s one of the band’s finest efforts in capturing the spontaneous joy of their live show on record. The song sounds alive in a way that’s fresh, organic, and maybe a bit chaotic. Paradoxically, it displays their adeptness as a studio outfit. “The Dripping Tap” sounds live because it’s so well recorded, and it sounds so well recorded because it feels live.
Typically, KGLW albums stick to one genre, although that genre is often chosen with a gleefully random attitude, like throwing a dart to a board and making an album based on where it lands. Unexpectedly, the tracks that follow “The Dripping Tap” incorporate an assortment of the various sounds throughout their catalogue. “Magenta Mountain” has a synthesizer melody that harkens back to 2021’s Butterfly 3000. Even at six minutes, it’s a clean pop song, bolstered by a bass synth and memorable hook. “Kepler-22b” gets even groovier; its opening drum beat immediately recalls some deep cuts from that other Aussie psych pop band. The thrashers “Gaia” and “Predator X” emulate the band’s 2019 metal album Infest the Rat’s Nest. The ridiculously catchy “Presumptuous” is an evolution from the beachy Paper Mache Dream Balloon. “Evilest Man” seems to do it all—uniting the psych-pop and psych-rock, glitzy synths and the distortion of blown-out guitars.
For the most part, the album’s back half focuses their songwriting into tight, trim efforts. Here, King Gizz is at their most compact without losing their explorative spirit. The overarching influence of Animal Collective looms near, especially on “The Garden Goblin.” “The Grim Reaper” features rapping that emblemizes the band’s loveable nerdiness. The album concludes on an ominous whisper with “The Funeral,” its shortest track.
Regardless, KGLW can’t quite avoid a bloated track list. “Candles” is a forgettable song that Pond probably made a better version of already. But for the most part, these songs display everything that unites KGLW’s mosaic discography: graft, groove, and goofiness.
Omnium Gatherum has the length of a double album, but it plays out more like a greatest hits. The album brings together all the best of the band—a sonic summary of their extensive previous work without any tonal whiplash. Having released so much music, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have practiced how to fine-tune their sound to whatever tickles their fantasy. And it works better than ever here. This is the album you show off to exemplify the sheer breadth of their discography. If it took 19 studio albums of effort and exploration to get to the confidence of Omnium Gatherum, it was well worth the wait.
Omnium Gatherum is out now.