On "Flying Microtonal Banana", King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have created the soundtrack to the end of the Earth, or to that episode of The Magic Roundabout when Zebedee forgot to take his beta blockers and got munted on sugar lumps with Dougal in Marrakesh. Bands who produce nine albums in five years usually churn out their fair share of flatulent guff, but not the Gizz (pronounced with a hard 'g' sound btw) and certainly not on this album. Very much unlike a Hollywood actress' face, there's definitely no filler here.
Microtonal music is characteristic of Middle Eastern and North African sounds, dividing the octave into twenty-four intervals, rather than a conventional Western twelve. To the unaware, it can sound woozy and flat, like it's played by someone who's just eaten some cheese they found under the cooker. Melded with buzzing, bonce-busting Western psych-rock, propelled by the power of two drummers, it can start to twist your melons. This album is definitely best avoided if looking after small children or operating heavy machinery.
The opener "Rattlesnake" surges with hypnotic, frantic bass and drums that appear out of the same wuthering nuclear winter sounds that conclude the album. In between, they sing of drowning in the neurotic "Open Water", toxic air in the amped sashay "Melting" and absence of oxygen in "Anoxia". "Doom City" is ominously catchy and T-Rexy ('T'' standing for 'Turkish' here). Add in wailing zurna (Eastern horn) solos on several tracks, a kind of knackered bagpipe sound, and you have a heady mix. By the end, you'll be as likely to punch the air with exhilaration as head butt the wall in existential anguish. The only song that seems not to feature death, doom or both is the somnolent "Sleep Drifting", a soporific paean to the glorious act of not getting up, snoozing alongside a pleasant bedfellow. "Billabong Valley", with the effeminate vocals of their keys man, Ambrose Kenny Smith, would make a fine soundtrack to a movie, but what the hell that movie would look like, I can't begin to imagine.
Thanks to Brexit and the rise of right wing politics on both sides of the Atlantic coupled with more high profile celebrity deaths than anyone could mention, 2016 won't go down as many people's favourite year.
However, from a musical perspective it's delivered in fine style. Indeed, trying to whittle this albums of the year piece down to just ten records was a difficult process, but here they are:
Meilyr Jones - 2013
Formerly the lead vocalist with once hotly tipped indie folk outfit Race Horses. Adrian Meilyr Jones didn't rest on his laurels after his former band's demise three years ago. Instead he went to Rome and set about writing another of this year's most eloquent debuts.
Continue reading: Dom Gourlay's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
With August's festival calendar seemingly busier than any other month, those of us with a persuasion to stand in a field watching live music are spoilt for choice. While V Festival might be the most corporate and therefore populist, the more discerning fan of both music and the arts in general would probably be found elsewhere. Such as Green Man for instance. Situated on the Glanusk Park estate in Crickhowell to the eastern point of the Brecon Beacons, it prides itself on being one of the most unique festivals around. Having grown from a capacity of just 300 people when it started in 2003 to the 20,000 revellers here to party this weekend, it's become a festival season highlight even with such a saturated market.
What also sets it apart is the stellar line-up organisers Fiona Stewart and Ben Coleman regularly pull out of the bag, and this year's edition was no exception. With the "sold out" signs hoisted long before this weekend, its reputation for putting quality control first speaks for itself. While its picturesque setting and heavy focus on locally sourced organic produce also render it a cut above the standard festival fare of greasy burgers and warm Carling where daily nourishment is concerned.
Indeed, the only thing that cannot be guaranteed is the weather but then this is the British summer time, right? Right. So without further ado, having acquired our passes and pitched up, Contactmusic are immediately drawn to the impressive bill taking place on the Far Out Stage this Thursday evening. Flamingods experimental take on psychedelic world music and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's full throttle sonic assault prove to be particular highlights. So much in fact that headliners Wild Beasts actually seem unsure about following either act on stage and play a surprisingly muted set of material mostly lifted from new record 'Boy King' instead.
Continue reading: Green Man 2016 - Live Review
Next weekend, Contactmusic will be heading to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales for the 14th edition of Green Man.
Having first opened its doors in 2003, the festival has grown from housing just 300 people at its inaugural event to the 20,000 that will experience this year's sold out extravaganza. While music undeniably takes centre stage, it also boasts ten different areas where various activities from Babbling Tongues' spoken word line-up to Einstein's Gardens' scientific pursuit can be encountered by all and sundry. Also, its diverse range of locally sourced, mostly organic food and drink makes a distinct change from your average festival standard fare of burger and chips with a pint of warm Carling.
Taking place from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st August, the musical bill is also as diverse as one would expect from a festival that prides itself on being one of the least corporate and commercial events on the calendar. Indeed, looking through the line-up from top to bottom it's difficult to envisage a better one at any UK event this summer.
Continue reading: Green Man 2016 - Preview