No way, Norway!
Seriously, what’s your deal? There just has to be an exceptionally friendly creative climate other places are missing. Because when it comes to the interdisciplinary merging of musical styles and making that excercise sound competely effortless, there seems to be an inherent advantage if you’re residing in Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim.
I’m talking specifically about the bubbling cauldron of Jazz Rock, Hard Rock and Prog, which apparantly many Norwegian artists accidentily fell into as children. You thought there was just that one in the Gaulish village that withstood Roman occupation? The one into which Magma’s Christian Vander… well, you know the comics. Maybe the Scandinavian Panoramix (aka Magigamix / Getafix / Miraculix) resides in the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory? That could explain at least something.
However one thing is for sure: In the land of the kings and queen Motorpsycho and Hedvig Mollestad and the prodigies Kanaan, it doesn’t really surprise you anymore to find a band like Wizrd, bursting with chops and musical understanding, playing that wild Jazz-drenched kind of Progressive Rock, which despite its educated backbone never comes across as too academic. It’s still a fun and more than welcome experience though.
Released by Karisma Records, home to bands like Wobbler or Seven Impale, produced by Jaga Jazzist’s Martin Horntveth and including members of Jazz Fusionists Soft Ffog and Rock’n’Roll powerhouse Spidergawd, the group’s debut album Seasons confidently marks this whole territory as “Wizrd’s”.
With a classic Rock line-up of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals the quartet stylistically follows the traditions of Cream, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report and refuses the temptation of modern ultra fuzz heaviness, but instead achieves urgency and energy with tempo - without sacrificing attention to melody and dynamics in the process.
On Seasons you can have passages that sound like Wizrd turned left right before entering Flower Kings-kitsch, have them throw in a Motown vocal line here and a hint of Indie Rock there, or you find yourself imagining Årabrot’s Kjetil Nernes backing up Focus’ panicky performance at NBC’s Midnight Special in 1973. But no matter what they decide to do besides their “regular” Prog’n’Jazz shenanigans, they glue it together with cool swagger and the sheer love of the jam.
If modern Prog Rock/Metal productions often feel too clinical too you and you just want great catchy songs performed in an insanely vibrant Fusion frenzy - just head Norwaywards and follow the Wizrd!