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One of the most fascinating production and songwriting techniques to emerge within the history of popular music is the fade-out. It’s a seemingly-simple, innocuous choice to allow the song to loop until promptly fading away into the ether – yet it provokes heated discussion among both music consumers and creators. Some find the open-ended nature of a fade-out to contextually work quite well, given the song; whereas others find it inconclusive and an underwhelming way to end out a song.
Imagine, if you will, a world without fade-outs. An album that doesn’t stop. Not for a second. Christ, even the song literally titled The Song That Doesn’t End has to come to a close at some point or another. Imagine a world where it goes on and on, my friends.
Enter Nonagon Infinity, the eighth album in four years from King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Far and away the most prolific act in contemporary Australian music, the quantity of what the band are putting out could easily negate the quality. Yet, here we are, facing down what will certainly be looked upon as one of their crowning achievements.
Nonagon, as its title suggests, is an album with nine tracks that blend seamlessly into one another. It’s a challenging, obstacle-laden challenge – certainly more so than the time – based efforts of last year’s Quarters!, which can essentially be accomplished through a bit of extra vamping and ambience. Weaving together this suite is something that evidently took a lot of concise, focused effort – and it’s for this reason that the album pays off so significantly.
The album’s driving forces come from two key sources – its triple-guitar attack and its double-drum reinforcement. These elements of the King Gizzard sound, when allowed loose, have all the power of an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object. It’s apparent from the opening sounds of Robot Stop, which charges out of the gate and immediately throws listeners in the deep end.
The guitars come thick and fast on single Gamma Knife, a breakneck head-banger that breathlessly bounds up to the high end of the fretboard and back again; not to mention its immediate follow-up of People-Vultures. Even on groovier moments, where the band are not as directly in one’s face, there is an undeniable strength to the use of layering. Take Mr. Beat, a head-nodder that would not feel out of place on a similar medley suite, from side B of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.
Better yet, take the rollicking Road Train, which utilises both Eric Moore and Michael Cavanagh to their utmost potential. NB: Road Train may also be the only song of the year that will legitimately elicit a cheer within its final 30 seconds, as the final reveal as to how the infinite loop is maintained gets revealed.
Nonagon Infinity is not only a major step up for the band, it’s bound to be one of the year’s most memorable releases. Some will start listening, and they’ll continue listening forever. Just because.