Soft Ffog and Krokofant musicians team up for unpredictable prog-psych joy.
INCREASINGLY ONE OF Northern Europe’s most prog-friendly creative epicentres, Oslo has become a hotbed of strange and exciting bands. Wizrd may be the most exhilarating of the lot. With a sound that unfolds from some unexplored midpoint between psychedelic prog, jazz fusion and angular avant-rock, with sumptuous three-part vocal harmonies erupting from every wonky corner, the Norwegians appear all-encompassing and all-conquering on their debut, Seasons. But as bassist-vocalist Hallvard Gaardløs explains, Wizrd began life as a slightly more prosaic component of his end-of-term exams.
“The origin of the band was that we went to the Jazz Conservatory in Trondheim together, and I actually founded the band for my graduating exam,” he grins. “It was me and Karl [Bjorå, guitarist] and Axel [Skalstad, drummer] and we played at the exam, including some songs that wound up on the album! I always wanted to have keyboards in the band, so I’m not quite sure why I didn’t ask Vegard [Lien Bjerkan, keyboardist] to join in, but he joined pretty soon after. I just wanted to merge rock and jazz. Rock is my roots, that’s where I’m from, but we also had this interest in jazz, improv music and experimental music, and we wanted to fuse those things into one.”
With a line-up that features members of Krokofant, Soft Ffog, Draken, Megalodon Collective and several more off-beam Oslo acts, it should come as no surprise that Wizrd’s Seasons seldom stands still. Rich with melody and bursts of rock’n’roll fervour, but also heroically unpredictable, songs such as the wild, propulsive Free Will and the absurdly catchy Show Me What You Got speak of a band with a widescreen, anything-goes vision. “I think you can maybe call it planned chaos,” says Gaardløs. “I don’t think we really plan anything that much, so it’s a natural consequence of the four of us together. We have some common ground musically, but we’re also completely all over the place. We combine the different musical areas that we come from, and we use that as a strength instead of trying to hide it.”
A work in progress since 2020, Wizrd’s debut was produced by Martin Horntveth, drummer with Norwegian alt-jazz legends Jaga Jazzist – significant architects of the vibrant, free-thinking music scene that has developed in Oslo over the last two decades. For Gaardløs and his Wizrd comrades, the collaboration was a pleasure. “We’ve known Martin for a long time so it felt kind of natural, but I’ve been listening to Jaga Jazzist since high school, you know? If you’d told me 15 years ago that I’d end up in the studio working with him I would have said, ‘No fucking way!’ [Laughs] Martin is so energetic and has so many ideas. He’s like a one-man storm of creativity.” One thing that comes across very strongly during Seasons is that Wizrd are, at heart, a vibrant, highenergy live band.
Despite all being exceptionally busy with 1,001 other projects, Gaardløs seems confident that the chemistry they share will be enough to push this post-exam project to the top of everyone’s agendas. “Yeah, we all play in a lot of bands, and none of us can make a living out of Wizrd alone,” he concludes. “But the main motivation is that we love making music together. Playing live together is something special. We’re already working on our second album, so there is more music to come for sure.”
From "Limelight - WIZRD" Prog
Issue 138 Reprinted with permission.