'Butterfly 3000' Is the Least King Gizzard-Sounding Record of Theirs Yet

BY Stephan BoissonneaultPublished Jun 18, 2021

The first quarter of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's latest album, Butterfly 3000, sounds like you're looking through a technicolour kaleidoscope. Lush polyphonic melodies, swirling and whizzing by at a moment's notice, are concocted with an array of modular and analog synthesizers, and — save for the minor-keyed intro on the fourth track "Blue Morpho" — there is no real sonic tension. The universe sounds bright and jubilant—a huge departure from the frenetic fuzz energy on past King Gizzard works.

Butterfly 3000 is the Australian experimental psych unit's second album of 2021, and 18th to date. They're clearly a group of prolific musicians with a surplus of talent who get sonically bored every year, as most of their albums delve into something new (though always psychedelic), from trippy jazz on Sketches of Brunswick East to the thrash metal of Infest the Rats' Nest. But their departure here is still striking — while fuzzed-out electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and saxophone all make appearances on the album, they are quite brief, with the proceedings instead dominated by synthesizer loops. 

Butterfly 3000 marks King Gizzard's most electronic work to date, sounding as if the band built songs over arpeggiated synth loops, coupled together with bleeps, bloops and lots of filtering. It returns to the band's more overarching, conceptually structured efforts as songs bleed into one another and certain melodic themes are rehashed throughout the album. And though the electronic sound is different from other King Gizzard work, the concept-heavy album structure that has become the group's signature isn't sacrificed. 

Feathery vocals from lead singer Stu Mackenzie on early numbers "Yours," "Shanghai," and "Dreams," serve as halcyon elevator music. Mackenzie's lyricism mostly comes across as stream of consciousness or enunciating a certain phrase multiple times, like "Bye-bye, Shanghai / I've become a butterfly" on "Shanghai." It's all sung in a laid back falsetto and really works for the dreamy atmosphere King Gizzard is going for. Still, Joey Walker's lyrics pack more of a punch, as on the baroque pop number "Interior People" with the memorable line "Pay someone to taste, to smell and punch through the drywall inside my skull."

Though King Gizzard have quickly cultivated a signature style, Butterfly 3000 finds them uncharacteristically sounding like their peers, recalling the daydreaming synth-rock of contemporaries like Tame Impala. You could call Butterfly 3000 the least King Gizzard album of their career — there is next-to-no distortion or guitar riff theatrics. Nevertheless, it's a refreshing departure from the psychedelic garage records the band has released in the past few years. And if fans want more of their trademark sound, based on Gizzard's release habits, they will most likely only have to wait a year at most.

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