Friday, January 12, 2018

King Gizzard - Gumboot Soup Review

The madmen actually did it. Sure, it took all 365 days, releasing Gumboot Soup on the final day of the year, but King Gizzard's lofty promise of five albums in 2017 proved to be much more than just a far-fetched promotional ploy. It also turned me into a glorified fan, quite a surprising achievement given their defiant declaration of quantity over quality. They put out more material than Young Thug, Future, even Brockhampton and their Saturation trilogy, showing up every non-Hip-Hop artist who toils for years over presumptions less creative than the endeavors the seven-man outfit undertook. Whereas each previous album acted as a stepping stone to achieving their ultimatum, Gumboot Soup presents itself as a celebration, a tour around the crumbling world's of Flying Microtonal Banana, Murder Of The Universe, Sketches Of Brunswick East, and Polygondwanaland. They're outtakes, b-sides, rarities, but more than anything, loosely-constructed songs that contain examples of their various styles exempt from the necessary album concepts. This makes Gumboot Soup a fun trot down memory lane, even if the latchkey memories are still being digested.

If there's one thing Gumboot Soup succeeds at more than anything else, it's showcasing King Gizzard's perennial effectiveness. Revisiting their assortment of styles, secrets, and schticks in such quick succession helps to demonstrate just how distinct their brand of Australian Psych-Rock really is. It's also fun, for listeners who've been aboard 2017's wild ride, to see which era produced which excerpts. Sketches is where the bulk of material emerges from, which may rattle fans who rank that Mild High Club collaboration lowly. Fret not, for unlike King Gizzard's other LP's, Sketches was hampered by the sunshine curbside concept, which narrowed their ideas rather than expanding. Here we get those expansions in the form of 'Barefoot Desert,' 'The Last Oasis,' and 'Sleeping In.' In each instance, the group pulls their Sunshine Pop out of Melbourne's suburbs and into the rough, rugged, and radiating outback. The result is three squelching pleasantries that dot the landscape and find Stu Mackenzie reflecting on his tumultuous surroundings. It also features some of the group's most dynamic ideas yet, whether it's Mackenzie's mannerisms on the Thee Oh Sees/of Montreal crossover 'Barefoot Desert,' or the sudden Lo-Fi static bridge on 'The Last Oasis.' Unfortunately, 'Superposition' and especially 'Down The Sink' exist, which rely heavily on Sketches' so-so jazzy street jitters.

Elsewhere, King Gizzard embark on the hell-blazing scourge of Murder Of The Universe with 'Greenhouse Heat Death' and 'All Is Known,' each powering through Progressive Rock with visceral precision. The former, and Gumboot Soup's most aggressive affair 'The Great Chain Of Being,' find Mackenzie applying guttural force to his vocals, a previously unheard decision on his behalf. It's during moments like these where you truly see his range, as 'Greenhouse Heat Death' immediately follows the honest and dainty 'Beginners Luck,' a track that's entirely about betting tables at the casino. It's likely the most wholesome gambling track ever created. It's also a succinct showcase of Gumboot Soup's nonchalance towards coherency, as there is none. If anything, King Gizzard find themselves preoccupied, subconsciously, over their own interests, as tracks like 'Muddy Water' and 'Barefoot Desert' embrace their poorly disguised stereotypes with a warm heart. Talk of mysterious concoctions ('The Wheel'), natural utopias ('The Last Oasis'), and daily blasé encounters ('I'm Sleeping In,' 'Down The Sink') constitute the bulk of the LP. 

By the end of this run, Gumboot Soup may hold the silver metal high, trailing only Murder Of The Universe as my favorite release of theirs. The album is a purely fanatical release, servicing fans who've serviced King Gizzard through this laborious year. There's no concrete concept, far from it, as the team rifles through their catalogue of disruption with loosey-goosey inhibition. Here, King Gizzard prove themselves to be talented musicians, capable of thriving even when a concept's nonexistent.

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