It has been roughly two years since I first started writing here at antiMusic. In all of that time, there may have been one or two low points where music we were getting in for reviews just wasn't cutting it for me; in other words, I sometimes feel like we get too much music that all sounds alike, with no degree of originality to any of it. As if the result of some universal musical karma, every time this has happened I eventually received an especially eclectic album to snap me out of my foolish funk.
The eccentric duo that is Wizardzz has certainly done just that on Hidden City of Taurmond. Brian Gibson (normally of Hypermagic maestros Lightning Bolt) tag teams with cohort Rich Porter (of Bud Sized Mind fame) in what ends up being a very avant-garde affair. Gibson's always strong drumming climbs to new pinnacles here; perhaps this largely instrumental outfit has allowed the skinsman to finally stretch his boundaries. Whatever the case, the end result is a typhoon of smooth, frantic percussion not to be outdone by Porter's lush, epic, and vibrant radiant myriad of colorful synth washes. It all sounds like some long-lost "Kirby's Dreamland" soundtrack from your vintage Super Nintendo SNES, mixed with archaic 1970's underground prog rock. Personally, it is a lot of fun, refreshing, ambient dreamscapes.
"Disembark" is a largely pointless intro consisting of restrained, sizzling drum symbols and the tiniest amount of synth hum. "Sailship" really kicks things off with an epic, soaring cascade of tye-died waterfall synth. A majestic bridge pops up so regally you'll feel like a king mid-song, and its clear right away this is something wonderful and new.
"Whispers from Wallface" blasts out interstellar overdrive as bright bursts of jaunty sound are raided by out-of-this world drumming. Oh, and when did the synth parts start speaking in tongues? The marvelous "Glimpse of the Hidden City" is a taste of things to come as the name implies. Visualize Yes worthy keyboard solos played at an ecstasy drenched rave and you might be half-way there. "Jelipper-Lilly Field" may have a comical name, but its crazed drum rolls anchor a sugar-rush opus of video game whimsy.
"Do Come In (Tea and Chulliwugs)" beats with a heart made of pleasing aural chants and various complex rhythms. My personal favorite, "Sea Battle at Orkusk," comes next with Gibson unleashing an insanely frenetic barrage of drums that will make almost anyone grin in OTT glee. Porter's synths ebb-and-flow with stellar and unearthly pulsations as well, and we'll just write this one off as a keeper shall we? "Diamond Mirror" is a glorious symphony to the post-Mario universe, and "Chasing Our Shadows" is a nonsensical anthem to pixel people, both infectious and memorable at the same time.
"Ambushed by Time Quagga" starts with a fierce, primitive drum roll soon possessed by the spirits of wandering, sprightly keyboard washes. It stops on a dime for "The Bubiliad Woods of Taurmond" which finds those once lovable synths villanized to sound otherworldly, sinister, and evil. The drums also plow through their churning maelstrom again and again, and this song is stunning plus oddly emotional at the same time. "Lady Dragons" is a torrential downpour of synth rain that waters the landscape and sprouts spastic percussion, whereas the futuristic interlude of "Rest at the Gate" leads us right to the closing song. This, a live version of "Mim Vivian Sunrise" is loud, splendid, and crystal clear. It appears the magic of both Wizardzz also pertains to the dreaded live concert as well.
I haven't enjoyed a disc this strange and enchanting in quite a while. Perhaps the best part of Taurmond is how entirely unique it is as its own entity. Picture a mental union between two people so intense that it can go virtually wordless yet still capture all the youthful fantasy we budding mystics are supposed to grow out of earlier in life. This Hidden City of Taurmond is quite the magical place, and here is recommending you take the journey to find it.
3. Whispers from Wallface
4. Glimpse of the Hidden City
5. Jelipper-Lilly Field
6. Do Come In (Tea and Chulliwugs)
7. Sea Battle at Orkusk
8. Diamond Mirror
9. Chasing Our Shadows
10. Ambushed by Time Quagga
11. The Bulbiliad Woods of Taurmond
12. Lady Dragons
13. Rest at the Gate
14. Mimi Vivian Sunrise (Live Version)