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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Butterfly 3001 Album Review

todayFebruary 18, 2022 145 5

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By Hayden Hovsepian
Music Journalist

When you hear about King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the band’s prolific discography. The Melbourne psych rock outfit has released many projects in many styles, but Butterfly 3001 is the first remix album to join the band’s catalog as of Jan. 2022.  Butterfly 3001 is a  two-hour compilation album fully comprised of remixed tracks from Butterfly 3000, their most recent LP. Each of the 21 new mixes on Butterfly 3001 comes from a different collaborator, varying wildly in style, energy and length. To keep it simple, we’re going to briefly highlight some of the more notable moments on the album.

“Gizzheads” and EDM enjoyers alike will appreciate Butterfly 3001. It is an odd junction between eclectic electronica and groovy psychedelic, so listeners are likely to love some songs and dislike others by the bands admission.

The first and most notable remix on the album is “Black Hot Soup – DJ Shadow ‘My Own Reality’ Re-Write.” This catchy dance tune  is arguably the best mix on Butterfly 3001. “Re-write” is a more accurate description here, as the renowned DJ Shadow basically disassembled the original “Black Hot Soup” and used the pieces to make a whole new, groovier song. Michael Cavanaugh’s drumming gets rearranged from laid-back and upbeat to a rapid hip-hop pace. Keen ears will still recognize Lucas Harwood’s bass and Stu Mackenzie’s “WOO!” being altered and utilized to build the new beat as well.

This mix got its own music video, a single release, and top billing on the track list because the band probably recognized how easily enjoyable the average listener will find it.  This remix has already crossed our desks, so KTSW listeners shouldn’t be surprised if they hear this one pop up in the rotation very soon!

The song “Shanghai” gets two remixes on Butterfly 3001, but I don’t think I can pick a favorite between them. Both mixes are good fun in very different ways, but fans of the original “Shanghai” might prefer the first of the two. “Shanghai – The Scientist Dub” is extremely faithful to its base song, maintaining the highly psychedelic sound while still exploring new instrumentation . The Scientist cuts some vocals in exchange for synth and piano samples, punchier percussion and heaps of reverb, and it all goes over quite well.

On “Shanghai – Deaton Chris Anthony Remix,” solo producer and seamster Deaton Chris Anthony changes it up entirely. He brings in a new reggae-influenced bassline, breakbeat percussion and digitally distorted effects to create an eclectic and sometimes confusing sound. The original vocals are layered almost offbeat at points, but the deliberation behind it puts a youthful, energetic spin on the mix. In a way, this cut also serves to foreshadow the wide range of experiences Butterfly 3001 has to offer.

Next, we must mention “Ya Love – Flaming Lips’ Fascinating Haircut Re-Do.” That’s right, Flaming Lips baby. Why are they here? I don’t know. Thank goodness they showed up though. They overdrive the bass and vocals, then subdue the rest of the instrumentation so it emphasizes the acoustic guitar, synths, and tambourine. The result is a light, floaty and extremely pleasant sound that only improves on what was already there. This version might even be better than the original. Seriously. I don’t get how they did it either.

Another favorite of mine, “2.02 Killer Year – Bullant’s F**k Mike Love Remix,” was produced in-house. Bullant is the DJ persona and solo project of King Gizzard’s very own Joey Walker. Right off the bat, you can hear him employing the same electronic sound design used in “Acarine” off the 2019 King Gizzard album Fishing for Fishies. Eight minutes seems like a long time for one remix, but Walker does a good job of keeping things interesting.

This techno mix stays engaging by constantly changing its focus between the beat, the lyrics, droning synths, and the same six-note melody. This track throws in new progressions one after another, and right as you get used to the pattern it comes to a clean, conclusive fade-out . Overall, it’s not the most energetic cut on Butterfly 3001, but the attention to detail is apparent and entertaining . Most importantly, as Walker says, “f**k Mike Love.”

Bullant does a great job with the techno sound, but he might be the exception and not the rule. Some of the less accessible cuts on Butterfly 3001 are the other two trance mixes that last well over 11 minutes each. I was a bit bored by the first one, “Yours – Fred P Journey Mix,” so there was a lot riding on “Catching Smoke – 4am Wack Rmx By Hieroglyphic Being.” I really did try to give this one a fair shot, but there was little to enjoy in this echoey, feverish mess that’s loosely based on “Catching Smoke.” The mixing sounds like I’m standing at the mouth of a cave in which this song is being played. The abrupt ending is a cop-out for any sort of resolution. Were it not for the faint, chopped vocal samples that return halfway through, I would have forgotten I was listening to a remix of one of my favorite King Gizzard songs.

To its credit, it does somehow live up to a “4am Wack” vibe as indicated by the title. I can appreciate that there is plenty going on in this remix, and maybe this style of busy layering just isn’t for me. Regardless, without a clear progression or melody , it is a lot to ask of the average listener.

Deep into the track list of Butterfly 3001 comes “Butterfly 3000 – Terry Tracksuit Remix.” Although “Neu Butterfly 3000 – Peaches Remix” was one of the singles for this album, I much prefer this minimalist, more experimental version of “Butterfly 3000.”

This cut comes from previous King Gizzard collaborator Alex Brettin, aka Terry Tracksuit, aka Mild High Club. His influence can be heard in the distorted synth and vocals that make this mix just as frantic as it is floaty. At two and a half minutes, this is the shortest remix on the whole album, but that brevity is part of what makes this one such a fresh experience.

If King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is one thing, they are ambitious. The Melbourne psych rock band has released 18 studio albums, two early EPs, two demo compilations and a whopping 13 live albums (most of which are freely available via their bootlegger project).

Still, they set a new bar for themselves with their first remix album. If there’s one thing to take away from here, it is that you should dig into Butterfly 3001 for yourself to see which mixes are your favorites.  As is the case with any remix compilation, people will be divided in their opinions that is OK. The hodgepodge of styles on Butterfly 3001 should not be intimidating, but rather an invitation for listeners to discover new sounds. Overall, this latest project is an interesting and well-executed concept, as well as a great way to discover some new artists or even just some dancing tunes.

Written by: ktsw899

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