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Rope - Heresy, And Then Nothing But Tears

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Artist: Rope

Album: Heresy, And Then Nothing But Tears

Label: Family Vineyard

Review date: Jan. 9, 2007

For their second full-length, the Chicago-based trio Rope make the listener squirm in claustrophobic horror, a suffocation expressed with a tight cinematic language. Their method is not the jump cut and cheap surprise of slasher films, but the long tracking shot and taut psychological suspense of a thriller. What emerges is a dense, disturbing album-long portrait of mental decay taken from the inside. Details of the ostensibly lustful and passionate relationship are lacking; all the listener gets is microscopic details, morbid suggestion, vague metaphors and muscular, distended compositions.

Musically, Rope deny anything overt. Bassist Robert Iwanik and drummer Michael J. Kendrick unleash rhythms that swell, recede and never settle, storm surges that guitarist Przemyslaw Krzysztof Drazek sometimes rides and sometimes fights. On pieces like “Blood Stained Lust,” he moves from fragmented chords and fractured single note musings to excruciating bursts of high-register strafing without his articulation suffering or his poignancy waning. The trio knows no bar line that wasn’t meant to be stressed or broken, resulting in a free-flow of ideas that makes the music sound improvised and alive.

And yet, in all of their pieces the three walk a strict compositional line. Not once does the group make the easy choice to degenerate into empty cacophony. Their most powerful passages are the quietest ones. “The Financial Imperative” opens with simmering guitar and the slurps, cackles and moans of Eugene Robinson, captured here in all their spittle-soaked glory, two signs that suggest a predator ready to pounce. When the transition to the following “Our Beast” arrives, it is pinpoint and deadly. When they come, crescendos are compact and timed for maximum effect. Or, as on the 20-minute fade to black of “Grand Humiliation of Misery,” the music dissipates into unsettling quiet

All of this controlled chaos writhes around Iwanik’s incantatory vocals, delivered in a stalking lion’s purr. On paper, the lyrics are disjointed and sound a teenage note of tortured angst, making the real accomplishment of this album how the trio stokes the lines with fresh life. The lyrics give voice to the musical tempest and allow the listener access to this dank, dread chamber.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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