Saturday, June 10, 2006


I've heard the name of Baltimore out-sound quartet Wzt Hearts (pronounced "Wet Hearts" - there's a story behind that that I can't remember) a good bit the past coupla years, and I feel like I've seen 'em a bunch, but can only access vague memories of an Ottobar gig w/Growing, Gang Gang Dance, and Animal Collective, and a Warehouse Next Door show w/More Dogs and Stamen & Pistils. Not that my social calendar matters; I only mention this to point out that despite digging what I heard, those sets didn't really stick, and I definitely don't remember these guys being as mind-stretchingly wide and sonically fertile as they are on their CD Heat Chief just released on Hit Dat (with vinyl to come on Hoss, the label also responsible for a great split 12" featuring an Excepter track from a revelatory DC show). I'm sure this live/record discrepancy is the product of my distracted brain and not the band's now-obvious powers, but either way the combo of expansive noise and thoughtful restraint on this debut imprinted my gray matter immediately.

Based on what Wzt Hearts play on stage - electronics, mixers, drums, a laptop, etc - I'm not shocked at the sound here, just didn't expect it to be this massive and versatile. Heat Chief is kinda split into two symmetric sides, with the sequentially-named "1" and "3" being 16-minute epics filled with sound-sources including tons of live drumming, and "2" and "4" being shorter, non-percussive studies that trace narrower sonic lines. Wzt Hearts are great at both of these modes, and while the longer cuts at first seem to drag periodically due to rock-ish drums and an airy, nearly planetarium-ready prog-ness, the beauty is that without those dips, the high-flying climaxes of multi-layered noise wouldn't feel nearly as epiphanistic. Best example comes about nine minutes into "3", as mounds of filtered noise, puncturing samples, and rattling hectic-ness stun simply because the overlapping drums that buttress it all began life a few minutes earlier as rote hypnotic thuds.

Thus posting an excerpt of either "1" or "3" won't do those monumental tracks justice, so let us turn to Wzt Hearts' smaller triumphs: "4," the closer, is the album's eeriest cut, a cacophony of dislocated echoes that gradually collects sonic ghosts only to shove them down a decaying black hole - but my vote goes to "2," a slow glide up a flickering staircase of cloud-piercing noise. The track's sky-seeking effect (and nice hard-cut demise) falls somewhere between the fuzzy melodics of Fennesz and the more medititative moments in the Mirkoknytes' catalogue, but those comparisons only work when "2" is heard on its own - if you dig it, I implore you to immediately forget it and get the whole album, because it sounds even better stuffed in between Wzt Hearts' more expansive, mountain-scaling work.

WZT HEARTS - "2" from Heat Chief


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