“Arizona’s Wizards of Time return with another startling gem from Will The Soft Curse Plague On?, their piercing, soul-lifting puzzle of a debut record. Benjamin is beautiful; a tripping, heartfelt melody of shivering grace, aching and playful; on the surface almost unbearably sweet but underpinned this minimalist shifting math rock. Spare but epic.” (Single of the Week)
Wizards of Time Reviews
“Easily my favorite song of this week is Wizards of Time’s “Benjamin,” an epic and highly nuanced slice of art-rock not unlike Sufjan Stevens or Deerhunter. The band is led by vocalist and musical wunderkind Andrew Levi Hiller, who has an expansive imagination and a distinct sense of artistry that is unlike few others. While lead single “Little’s Jingle,” was proggy, guitar-driven and dense, “Benjamin,” is inspired, uplifting and decidedly off-beat. Yet where it turns left, it also turns pleasant and that sense of amiability is what makes the song so darn refreshing.”
- Absolute Punk
“Wizards of Time’s debut album is full of catchy, psychedelic-tinged rock that avoids the pitfalls of many bands that use the word “psychedelic” as an identifier. There’s no long-winded jamming here, and no woozy atmospheric pieces that stretch on forever. Those bits are mostly confined to interstitials the band calls “Plague 1”, “Plague 2”, etc., that serve as short 30-second transitions between the more substantial songs. Wizards frontman Andrew Hiller has a wobbly tenor voice that can’t help but remind listeners of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, especially with the very Lips-like music going on behind him.
Still, the band knows its way around a hook, and their willingness to experiment with sounds mostly pays off. While the songs tend to be driven by guitars, either fuzzed-out electrics or more easygoing acoustics, the band finds room for piano, organ and all sorts of interesting percussion ideas. In fact, the band rarely uses traditional drum kit beats in their songs, giving the whole album a bit of a left-of-center feel. Will the Soft Curse Plague On? is an interesting take on psychedelic pop, and its welcome brevity ensures that listeners who aren’t using chemical enhancements won’t get bored with the album.”
Wizards of Time have crafted a unique, powerful musical experience with Hidden Shoal’s 2012 release Will The Soft Curse Plague On? Here is apocalyptic concept record through shimmering sounds. Andrew Levi Hiller and company have made one of the best albums of 2012 (as of right now the main competition would be Swans The Seer in my book). Will The Soft Cure Plague On? was created in North Carolina with highly esteemed producer/musician. The band traveled back and forth over the course of months perfecting their psychedelic pop sounds. We are the beneficiaries of their dedicated work.
The apocalypse is a theme that has always seemed to interest humanity. ”The End” is a concept that we welcome or fear depending on religious beliefs and our level of happiness in this existence. Art constantly returns to this idea in all it’s expressions. In music and film there is a depth of richness associated with apocalypse because what could be more dramatic and intense than the end of all that what we know?
Aspects of “The End” can be seen in the movies with masterpieces like Children of Men, Dr Strangelove and 12 Monkeys (or in utter trash like End of Days). The Road felt like true horror as an unknown disaster had reduced most humans to cannibals and the earth to a dry wasteland. Zombie films tend to have an apocalyptic motif and my favorite of those is 28 Days Later which I actually find to be a quite beautiful, moving cinematic work. The combination of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Cillian Murphy walking the desolate streets of London is both gorgeous and horrifying.
In music we find a deep well of examples starting with Bob Dylan’s absolute classic “A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall”. In my mind “Hard Rain” is the all-time apocalyptic expression. I fell in love with Dylan’s work because of that song and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. Neil Young gives us some of these feelings with “After the Gold Rush”. Jackson Browne references a post atomic bombed out world with “Before the Deluge”. Larry Norman wrote the forever famous (or infamous depending on your opinion) end of days tune with “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. In recent years Radiohead, Arcade Fire and many other bands carry a real fear of society destroying itself through greed, corruption and abuse of technology.
Artists over the years return to the end of the world fears but Wizards of Time have their own very unique take. Here we go into a state of apocalypse and experience feelings of horror, spirituality, beauty, corruption and also glory. The journey you take on Soft Curse is truly scary but also deeply rewarding. Musically you will hear a vast array of sound manipulation with jagged rhythms, exquisite melody and finely fragmented composition. Andrew Levi Hiller leads us in this story of a character wading his way through a dangerous world.
Wizards of Time go into all kinds of darkness whether referencing drug abuse (“Littles Jingle”), dangerously sheltered childhood (“Benjamin”), mass suicide and environmental/economic disaster (“W.W.H.”) or religion (“Hands on Praying Man”). Religion seems be approached from the dark side here. If anything it seems like a place to cover up evil in people’s hearts. The connection between religion and fear is pronounced. Is the object of this fear true spirituality or of the power structures in institutional churches and systems of belief?
The absolute highlight of the record is “Benjamin” which references the horror of a sheltered, home-schooled child who seems primed to become a serial killer. (“Cause I feel love / But do I know real love? / I was shown lust by you / Do I await abuse? / This could happen to anyone / Or some fucked up feud / To see the rise of Jim Jones son”.) Somehow a song about such a pathetic character comes off as both compassionate and achingly beautiful. Arpeggiated guitars and synths ascend us into light to end the track.
This all sounds dark and dire but the reality is that The Soft Curse is teaming with sonic life. The melodies and rhythms jump and dance and writhe. This is some of the most energetic, bursting with creativity music to come out in the last few years. You will never be bored as the band moves between genres with absolute fluidity. There is world music, walls of percussions, rhythmic breakdowns, freakout psychedelia and flat-out simple beauty.
What ultimately makes Soft Curse transcendent is it’s ability to confront the horrors of this life and still find glory. Once we reach the ambient pop of “Above the Everglades” there is a new feeling for the listener. We begin to receive a sense of peace. We are in a state of levitation. We are rise above and beyond the brutality.
It all comes to climax with the album closer “Flourescent Beaming”. It’s now just Hiller’s voice, acoustic guitar and the sound of nature. The horror is fading (“And suddenly thousands came in a death puree”). Check out the lyrics as the darkness seems to literally be overcome.
Flourescent beaming, open sky /Bubats joining souls on high / From our floor to heaven’s door / No, there’ll be no more suffering no more…No more coattails, no more blisters / And the earth sang / I’ll meet my maker / I’m unscathed
I will openly admit to crying several times now to “Flourescent Beaming”. There is a feeling here of true belonging and comfort. The pain and evil and corruption have been confronted but somehow we are still standing. Love and light and beauty still seem like possibilities. In a way Swans and Wizards of Time seem to share a similar purpose here. They both investigate some of the bleakest aspects of existence and come out with affirmation of life. We are still here. Beauty is a reality. We are not annihilated. We are alive. There is hope.