I'm prejudiced against scenes, trends, and how “hip” something might be. It’s a turnoff. When starting under those terms, you're already in a hole in my mind. So, imagine my wariness when discovering Wzt Hearts (“wzt” being a ridiculous alternate spelling of “wet”) are from the same “burgeoning Baltimore music scene” as Dan Deacon. Not only was I ready to harshly judge and scathingly criticize, but also raring to do so. Surprisingly, however, Wzt Hearts, without any buffoonery, skullduggery, or tomfoolery, are an impressive act, and each track on Threads Rope Spell Making Your Bones packs a potato sack of something remarkable.
It’s common to describe something as being “awash in _____.” For me, visualizations of gargantuan waves come to mind when listening to Threads, with crests like frothy claws ready to absorb all. This description applies to album opener “Hassler.” The emphasis is on static, sounding like ten appointments' worth of acupuncture going on simultaneously. Next track “Lava Nile” is much of the same, but now you hear someone trying to tune to a radio station, a brontosaurus growling, a piano falling from a pulley system, and a voice speaking into an oscillating fan. This is followed by “Jeep Uzi,” the serenity of squiggling cassette tapes, the jangle of a junk drawer, madrigal singers with marigolds threading their front teeth.
And it keeps going. “Spells” is the belch and grumbling tummy of an extraterrestrial with sludge underfoot, paging home on an abducted crack dealer’s beeper, circa 1993. “Hearth Carver” is what happens when you allow machines to file documents, let them work overtime, and then burst bolts that meld into cabinet drawers. “The Den” is the most irregular of heartbeats, a murmur on a skip on a fibrillation, with the clodhopping of four panicked horses -- Gabriel’s horn doesn’t just blow; it breaks against barricades. Finally, on “Viszla,” tape flies off the spool and slathers fuel all over the place. It’s a quieting moment, with soft tinkering in a tool shed. Things suddenly switch into sweetness -- some kind of Boom Bip or Boards of Canada or Hood moment -- before growing wonderfully dense again, like a ride through a wormhole.
Wzt Hearts are a healthy sign that being part of a scene isn't always a setback. They create a lot of noise, but it’s not grating. It rubs you the wrong way (as all noise is destined to), without rubbing you the wrong way (figuratively speaking). The music creates a din at times, but it doesn't come off as unwarranted or "dark." In fact, it’s colorful, like the thinnest ice layered over a still sluice, slicked with an oil rainbow, shattering right before your eyes. Wzt Hearts aren’t tongue-in-cheek or irreverent or gimmicky. They are serious, and Threads Rope Spell Making Your Bones is a wonderful sonic assault on the senses.
1. Hassler2. Lava Nile3. Jeep Uzi4. Spells5. Hearth Carver6. The Den7. Viszla