Paper Maché Dream Balloon

Review of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard album 'Paper Maché Dream Balloon

Our Rating

7.7

When I was at North By Northeast this summer during a sleep-deprived and ice-cream-fuelled excursion on the M for Montreal Bruise Cruise, I asked a group of guys what the highlight of their weekend had been. Their immediate response was: “King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, man. They were insane”. Not being lucky enough to see them that weekend, I would only have to find out later that they were a full out psychedelic septet with two drummers, that wrote 7 minute epics in 5/4 time. Insane indeed.

When I was at North By Northeast this summer during a sleep-deprived and ice-cream-fuelled excursion on the M for Montreal Bruise Cruise, I asked a group of guys what the highlight of their weekend had been. Their immediate response was: “King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, man. They were insane”. Not being lucky enough to see them that weekend, I would only have to find out later that they were a full out psychedelic septet with two drummers, that wrote 7 minute epics in 5/4 time. Insane indeed.

The world of nostalgia tinged psychedelic garage-rock has been steadily growing for the past what, 10 years? Giving us band after band with prolific outputs, fuzzed-up sounds, long feedback odysseys, and the occasional burst of mind-blowing genius (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Burger Records etc. etc.). King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a band whose previous output can fit nicely into this category (the rippin’ I’m In Your Mind Fuzz) or go completely outside of it (the trippy jazz of Quarters!). Bandleader Stu Mackenzie, claims that the record was not intentionally made as a concept album, but ended up having a lot of concepts attached to it. If there was a concept tied to Paper Maché Dream Balloon,  it would probably be along the lines of Mr. Show’s wicked H.R. Pufnstuf parody: “The Altered State of Drugachusetts” or MTV2s offensively hilarious, Wondershowzen. The album cover looking like a snapshot from an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, this is a place where the innocence of childhood meets the harsh realities of being an adult.

The decision to record without the use of any electric instruments gives PMDB a playful touch, even with all of the monsters lurking beneath its bed. There’s a distinct flavour of the Monkees, Beatles, Nuggets, and other 60s psych mainstays (The Byrds, Love et al.). In almost the same vein as the cheeky title of “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds”, KG&TLW are able to take the gentle melodies and use them as a first layer for much rougher psychic state on top. Album opener “Sense” contains an absolutely delicious flute riff, and in a style comparable to smooth-jazz, has a narrator contemplate his disconnect to modern life. Later on they use the same sounds to tell the tale of summoning demons in one’s bedroom in “N.G.R.I. (Bloodstain)” (which could stand for “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity). In many respects there is a darkness to the PMDB, but the sunny 60s melodies make the shadowy lyrical worlds sound tongue-in-cheek. Kind of like saying: “Yeah, I have some demons inside me, but who wants to take the Magic Bus and fly down to the Enchanted Forest?”

PMDB, has moments where it drags, but there’s enough high points to keep things all-in-all positive. The acoustic production allows for some seriously cool moments (the piano solo at the end of “Most of What I Like” simply rocks). Keeping with the theatrical theme of a children’s TV show, the album closes with a medley of all the songs with lead lines played by flute. At the end, with the “pop” of the fabled dream balloon, there’s a sense of closure. Something has been completed.

I’m just waiting for them to start a kickstarter that’ll have them make their twisted children’s television show.

 

Review by Graham Caldwell