So, another Gizzard album. Number five, to be exact. Six if you want to count the meaty Willoughby’s Beach EP as an album.
In July, singer/guitarist Stu Mackenzie boldly shared what was almost the band’s entire discography on Mediafire.com, proclaiming that, ‘Because we are in the future, and I had some time on my hands, here is (pretty much) our entire discography for you to download for free’.
Giving away the fairly hefty, largely dudless discography of your fairly prolific but still fairly young band is a ballsy move, especially when your band is on the verge of an international breakthrough. Some old-school record industry types might call it foolhardy; but honestly, in my opinion, it’s a shrewd way for Mr. Mackenzie to introduce his band to a (much) wider audience. By giving them 50 free songs to work their way through before your next album and tour. It’s probably still up there. Free shit.
Anyway, review time.’Future’ implies a departure of sorts, yeah?
I’m In Your Mind Fuzz is kind of a departure. It’s by far the most jam-based thing these guys have ever done, and its ambitions far outweigh the disjointed psych-pop of Oddments and they come from a completely different place to last year’s Float Along, Fill Your Lungs.
But it’s still a Gizzard album. Everything familiar to a fan of the band, admittedly including myself, is still there. Safe to say they’re probably not going to alienate any old fans with this one.
As you’d expect from Gizz at this point, I’m In Your Mind Fuzz rests precariously on the shoulders of two strange partnerships, one being of unpredictability and familiarity (often in the same breath), and the other being weird sonic experimentation often with non-traditional instrumentation (the early stuff had theremins everywhere, Float Along had sitars, and this one’s got flutes), mixed with whimsical, minimalist lyrics and simple 60’s garage melodies. It’s a combination that, as you’ve just gathered from my writing, doesn’t make much sense, and shouldn’t really work. But Gizzard have been doing exactly this for a while now, and mostly making it work; undoubtedly by trading their souls with some garage grim reaper for some theremins and funny-shaped ’60s guitars; and they have 60-odd songs out there to prove it.
So it’s kind of not a departure, then. Same seven guys, same densely-layered production, and more of the same trademark harmonica solos.
Additionally, several of its centrepiece tracks, namely ‘Cellophane’ and ‘Her and I (Slow Jam II)’, and a few others, have been live staples for the better part of a year (with their live debuts even predating the release of Oddments earlier this year). So if you’ve seen the band at all in the past year you’ve probably already heard at least a few cuts from I’m In Your Mind Fuzz.
That said, though, a good chunk of this album takes the fast robotic Krautrock-meets-Dee Dee Ramone basslines and dual drumming (which is just begging to be heard through a good pair of headphones) that we’ve been getting small tastes of here and there since the very beginning of the band, and making those grooves the centre of a song rather than a lyric or a melody. Or this case, like 5 songs.
That’s the ‘kind of a departure’, and it’s most evident in the first four tracks. Upon first impressions, it appears that they (perhaps wisely) chose not to begin with another ‘Head On/Pill’-style extended jam.
But they have, more or less, done that, because they’re Gizz and of course they’d do that, albeit minus the slow-burn sitar-psych intro and outro. They’ve just split the jam into four tracks, that seamlessly flow into each other: ‘I’m In Your Mind’; the instrumental ‘I’m Not In Your Mind’; choice cut (and lead single) ‘Cellophane’; and the ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’, which is a reprise of the first track, with more fuzz.
The real highlights of the album, however, come later on. ‘Am I In Heaven?’ is a sprawling lo-fi epic that blends chugging protopunk with off-kilter Beach Boys-meets-Nuggets harmonies, and the eight-minute effects-laden ballad ‘Her and I (Slow Jam II)’, already a live favourite, is one of those things that holds your attention throughout despite its daunting runtime.
Verdict? Well, despite the fact that this 42-minute wall of psych is, as I’ve already mentioned, the seven-piece’s fifth album in two years, they haven’t really faltered yet. I’m In Your Mind Fuzz is a much more consistent record than its’ immediate predecessor, Oddments, but doesn’t quite reach the highs of 2013’s near-perfect ’60s pastiche, Float Along, Fill Your Lungs.
If you like: flutes
Best tracks: ‘Cellophane’, ‘Am I In Heaven?’, ‘Her and I (Slow Jam II)’