Will The Soft Curse Plague On? is about as easy of a question to answer as the band’s past. There isn’t too much to dig up on Wizards Of Time other than their hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. Andrew Hiller leads this quintet of indie rockers into their debut album whose release was seen by no other than the exquisite Hidden Shoal Recordings. The vague back history that went into developing this record is a bit odd; with the band itself forming and playing shows in 2008, they snagged studio time two years later to complete this LP in 2010. Either they couldn’t find a presser until now or maybe they were just waiting for the time to be right. Regardless, we shall see if it was well worth the patience.
Listen to “2nd Son”
Wizards Of Time are strangers to the term “nascence.” Whereas most debut works are presented with some sense of restraint of full capability or a knack for sonic exploration that suffers from inhibition, these guys jump right into the limits of intricacy by crafting songs unafraid of venture. Hiller and his fellow cosmic devotees discard the sentiment that one’s first work of art be a test trial. Will The Soft Curse Plague On? is so complex and practiced that you would quickly assume this to be a group far into their career; and yes, they have been playing since 2008, but we’re talking about their discographic course. The astonishing truth is that this vehicle has just begun although the engine appears to have been running for years.
Each song inhabits the same territory, but that territory is so foreign and unexplored to our ears. Hiller achieves an atmosphere that seems unattainable to most bands featuring the same instrumental lineup. To cross reference, the most fitting descriptor of Wizards would be to imagine The Mars Volta harboring pop sensibilities; possibly melded with the folkish nature of The Decemberists. A brow-raising comparison, I know, but Wizards Of Time are anything but expected or familiar. Drums are always pounding and their overall sound is a thick, weighty object. Hiller’s ability to perform acoustic guitar riffs and come off as “heavy” is a mystery. Major props to their bass player as well. He packs a bass line with a punchy tone and can be heard at the forefront of songs like “2nd Son” and “Above The Everglades”. The two keyboardists are hard at work causing you forget about their presence. Just like the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, their job is to subtly immerse you in a dreamy state using all sorts of synths; chime and vibraphone-like arpeggios that whisk on every note. This transaction is so subtle that you cannot feel the ascension.
Apart from the already stunning DNA structure to these tunes, Andrew Hiller’s voice really sells the point. It’s accented and slightly withered, brimming with hopefulness and passion, never taking a break from accosting fate. If you have not fully embraced his vocals by the turning of “Ode To Bravo”, you have passed the instant of understanding. “Benjamin” displays his lyrical veracity at the sake of inviting universal interpretation. Through a motormouthed bramble of specificities including “subscriptions to Highlights Magazine,” there’s a nonchalant disregard for relatable songwriting, similar to that of Joan Of Arc‘s lyricism.
Mustering criticism for this LP is quite a task. Perhaps the intermittent “Plagues [1 through 6]” could have been done without. Other than serving as a drum-bashing set of interludes, they don’t necessarily act as sealant. In fact, coming across these in-betweens slows down the album’s motion. After hearing such boundless creativity in the opener “Chief Of Sinners”, the subsequent “Plague 1″ just keeps you grounded from enjoying the show throughout, as do the others.
Wizards Of Time’s debut record is an indie rock safari, breathing originality and opening new doors. Will The Soft Curse Plague On? insinuates growth and maturity, and yet the band has no prior releases from which to branch, making the prospect of a future record doubly intriguing. So hats off to a band that is nascent, but will fool you into thinking otherwise.