With details trickling down in interviews and on Reddit since the release of Murder of the Universe, the ever prolific King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have dropped their third record of the year, Sketches of Brunswick East. Having been written, recorded and produced in collaboration with Mild High Club‘s Alex Britton, while he was in Australia in late 2016. As you would expect from any project Britton is involved with Sketches of Brunswick East is a funky yet mellow affair of jazz and soul influenced psychedelia; however, it seems the band, in a race against time, have haphazardly relaxed their quality standards in order to meet their ambitious target number of releases for the year.
When speaking of the process involved with producing the album, frontman and chief songwriter, Stu McKenzie states that the album was recorded over a couple of weeks in Melbourne and then reworked by Britton and himself via sampling over the next six months. A process which differs significantly from that of the records already in their catalogue of stunning conceptual garage and psychedelic rock Sketches of Brunswick East definitely had the potential to be brilliant permitted all the ideas were fleshed out completely.
Clocking in at 38 minutes long the Sketches of Brunswick East at times feels twice as long. Especially within the first half of the album which feels like being trapped in a malfunctioning elevator in an upmarket hotel for fifteen minutes, with only the haunting vocal deliveries juxtaposed with the bright lead vocal in Tazeta and the cheesy instrumental found within Countdown, which sounds like it was ripped out of the soundtrack to a late 70s low-cost pornographic movie, capable of breaking through the slow boil of short modal jazz numbers. The Spider and Me provides a hit of adrenaline, much like a spider under your car door handle generally does, leading nicely into the more lively half of the record.
The second title-track Sketches of East Brunswick II acts as the intermission between halves of the record, while it repeats a lot of the grooves and ideas from the first title-track it feels more legitimate in the sense of not only track length but as a closer to the first half and opening to the second. Dusk to Dawn on Lygon Street sets the ball rolling, a reminder that while the band experiments with instrumentation and influence they are the same band that brought us the garage psych monsters Nonagon Infinity. The Book is a microtonal track and can be recognised as being a follow up to the track Melting found on Flying Microtonal Banana. Standout track Journey to (S)Hell is the most energetic track on Sketches of East Brunswick featuring passages of the heaviest tonalities, uptempo rhythms and the most generous use of delay. Rolling Stoned follows providing a return to the grooves found on like Dusk to Dawn on Lygon Street. While You Can Be Your Silhoutte proves to be the last track of substance on the record, the vocal, in particular, is executed superbly. Closing the album is Sketches of Brunswick East III which once again rehashes the ideas found on the two previous title tracks.
Overall Sketches of Brunswick East is an album of two halves. The first half riddled with forgettable elevator music, the second a cacophony of garage rock explored through the jazz and funked up filter of Alex Britton. While the record pioneers new ground for the band, it is clear it would have benefited from an extra few months in utero, having been born prematurely in order to satisfy their ambitious goal of long-play releases in a calendar year.