Wzt Hearts: Heat Chief
Wzt Hearts have built up a rep as a fierce live act, not something you hear too often about a group that packs a laptop. Michael Haleta, Jeff Donaldson, and Jason Urick man a tangled web of analog and digital noisemakers, but drummer Shaun Flynn’s jittery limbs and wracked screams provide the physical oomph that there’s no ProTools plug-in for--at least not yet. Recorded live and edited down after the fact, the Hearts’ debut album lacks the compare/contrast spectacle of their gigs--Flynn flailing at his kit with a microphone stuffed in his gullet as the other three, bent over their machines in furrow-browed concentration, whip up dust-bowl clouds of noise. But its four untitled tracks move like heavy-weather, from terror to beatific calm and back again.
Mites of static burrow through the six-minute second track, chewing gently on your speakers as a happy grub would on a leafy green. Shifting drones drift like sun shafts through a slatted blind. If this is ambient music, it hovers on the edge of unease. Track 3 is a 16-minute epic that builds from naught to gale force, as the steady-pounding tribal tom-toms and shifting cymbals of Flynn’s drums are swept into the blizzard winds of the others’ machines. Heard at a volume that won’t disturb the neighbors, Heat Chief may not immediately grab you by the scruff and give you the good shake you’ll get from the band live. Heard on headphones--or loud enough to break your lease--the album comes alive, wriggling with microscopic life forms, hums, buzzes, sudden jolts, and the heartbeat pulse of human rhythm under all that digital distortion.