Seasons by WIZRDRelease date: October 21, 2022
Label: Karisma Records
Just another ordinary day for me as I go for my afternoon walks, plugging in my iPod Touch, to see what kind of music will fill me up with excitement. Whether it’s something old and new, I always get in the mood to relieve the stress and get my mind straight. Rosalie Cunningham, Pink Floyd, Blood Ceremony, early Genesis, Steven Wilson, or Van Der Graaf Generator, they’re the ones that made sense to me.
And they still do years and years later. But one has entered the door with a hardcore punch that just took me by surprise. Here is another Norwegian project, coming from the realms of Soft Ffog and Krokofant. WIZRD’s debut release entitled Seasons on the Karisma label is a knock-out punch. This completely knocked me off-guard, listening to its entirety from start to finish.
There’s the progressive influences, space rock, psychedelia, indie rock, jazz, pop, and metallic textures thrown in. And believe me, they know their shit very well! The line-up considers Hallvard Gaardløs on bass guitar and vocals, Karl Bjorå on guitar and vocals, Vegard Lien Bjerkan on keyboards and vocals, and Axel Skalstad on drums.
According to an interview Dom Lawson did for the Limelight article in PROG Magazine issue 138, Haalvard describes the origins of WIZRD started when the group went to the Jazz Conservatory in Trondheim as he founded the group during his graduating exam. It seems like a crazy idea, but it works like a charm. Even though Hallvard’s roots are in rock music, he always had an express in jazz, experimental, and improvisational sounds, and combining three as one, they just tore up the rule book, and they can do whatever the hell they want.
Seasons is like a burning fire that’ll never burn out. And to be allowed to have Jaga Jazzist’s Martin Horntveth and Marcus Forsgren produce the album, it seems like a combination that works perfectly. ‘Lessons’ draws back the curtain with Karl’s guitar making that sunshine warm, starting the day off with a bang. Skalstad, Bjerkan, and Gaardløs, bring in the slides going up-and-down, like a roller-coaster ride towards a mind-blowing hallucinated trip, waiting around the corner.
‘Free Will’ continues with Skalstad drumming like a madman giving Karl and Vegard a chance boxing it in by turning into Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, going in for one last round. It has a spiritual guidance that they brought into the song, almost like a Nektar vibe, coming across Remember The Future and Recycled, rolled into one.
I can imagine that Nektar was a big inspiration for WIZRD’s arrangements, but it’s the galloping ‘Spitfire’ that sees the band going into a thrash metal route, honouring not just Motörhead, but Voivod, Saxon, Diamond Head, and the Warrior on the Edge of Time-era from Hawkwind while Karl makes the engines, red hot as the train goes at a ramming speed for 600 miles per hour.
Both ‘All Is As It Should Be’ and the spaced out adventures of ‘Show Me What You Got’ goes into the Mahavishnu’s territory as the quartet begins to make their instruments all revved up and ready to go with a NASCAR-like race, streaming across the heavens, but adding that Rush quality to the mix while ‘Fire & Water’ runs across the funk-rock vibes between Tower of Power and Premiata Forneria Marconi’s ‘Celebration.’ WIZRD know their roots to bring in the soul, the funk, the mothership, and adding that Italian flavour that makes it yummy and delicious.
‘Divine’ sees the band going into The Stranglers and XTC route by walking on the beaches with a reggae twist, channeling their own answer to ‘Peaches’ and ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead’ with a brutal jazz-drumming vibe that Axel channels Elvin Jones’ work from A Love Supreme. The closing track ‘When You Call’ is a mid-70s route with elements of 10cc, Beatles Revolver-era, and Goldfrapp on hallucinogenic themes with some crazy electric sitar vibes.
Crazy work-outs and having one killing composition after another, Seasons is one of those albums that’ll get your fist pumping. And we’ve got to experience WIZRD’s incredible experiment come to life with enormous results.