Wzt Hearts - "The Den" (Threads Rope Spell Making Your Bones)
Is “wash” an overused metaphor in music criticism? Fuck it – that’s how Threads Rope Spell Making Your Bones, from the Baltimore experimental wingding Wzt Hearts begins: with a wash. It’s the same wave of digital froth that often flows from a stage when there’s one guy alone there, sitting down, his bowed head visible above a glowing Apple logo. It cleanses the palate and the skin. It’s a good aural bedmask for those without noise-canceling headphones. “Hassler” balances a chaotic environment with six-and-a-half minutes of cold, clean noise. It marks Threads Rope as a strong record with a purpose. It will bring calm. It will help people.
But track two, “Lava Nile,” is a whole different show. The wash has more of a sting now. The noise is more directly tied to guitar rock, although it never goes there. The choppy, sloppy percussion lends some structure without keeping any particular beat. This is condensed release. This is a band that spends three minutes and forty-six seconds doing nothing but taking it home. It’s that kind of “noise.” It can overwhelm with or without permission.
There’s no particularly useful tag for Wzt (pronounced “wet”) Hearts save possibly “experimental.” These four fellows claim no particular gimmicks or trademarks. They seem to be improvising, most of the time. Jeff Donaldson lists, among his instruments, a Commodore 64, but this isn’t sadistic glitch or pandering dance music. It doesn’t provide much evidence that they know exactly what it’s doing. But it sound humble and fearless about it. Whether or not it’s “improvised music” as such, it bears an improvisational heart.
“Jeep Uzi” feels like a walk through a sleepy commercial district, where every door produces a “beep” every time someone opens it, and every shop is required to hang some sort of wind chime from its awning. Wzt Hearts credits no actual wind chimes (which have a way of sounding ridiculous and fey in this sort of context). Maybe it’s some software called “the sound of someone dragging a trash bag filled with broken glass down a flight of stairs, three blocks away, synthesized.” It’s hard candy for synesthesiacs.
“Spells” sits squarely in the disc’s chronological middle, and brings back the wash. Then it adds some strong, rhythmic digital percussion. Like Yellow Swans, it sounds “industrial,” kind of. And now the wash sounds like more of a moan, swelling to resemble an undead choral group stuck in a well. Now the moan washes away the rhythm, and fills the shore with live jellyfish. The harder you crank it, the more frightening and peaceful it sounds.
With “Hearth Carver,” the cymbal rattle returns. The burping electronics make Wzt Hearts sounds less overwhelming and more… cute, almost. Yet, this record never lets go of the possibility of turning into something mind-blowing and painful, even if that doesn’t actually happen. It’s less interesting for what it does than for the air of nervous anticipation it invokes. It’s post-industrial juju on wax.
“The Den” condenses most everything Wzt Hearts does into a five-minute-and-forty-five-second transition from suspension (the wash) to catharsis (the sting, to a more steady tempo this time), with the gurgling electronics hitched on, keeping the pace to preserve themselves. And “Vislza” runs a steamier version of the same bath that began things, adopting a shifting rhythm that can’t seem to decide between 4/4 and 6/8, or that floats around at will, with deep humility and negligible fear.