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Heartworms offer up multifaceted dystopian rage on the ironically titled A Comforting Notion EP

"A Comforting Notion EP"

Release date: 24 March 2023
Heartworms - A Comforting Notion EP cover
25 March 2023, 00:00 Written by John Amen

Jojo Orme, working under the moniker Heartworms, came of age in the wake of Y2K paranoia, cyberpunk, the dot-com crash, and the post-punk revival.

Now releasing her ironically titled EP debut, A Comforting Notion, she revels in four dystopian-leaning songs, offering complex vocals, trance hooks, and well-integrated sonic textures.

Opener “Consistent Dedication” shows Orme delivering oblique lyrics while transitioning through sensual dreamscapes, funereal lulls, and punk-infused freak-outs. Her voice is buoyed by a mix of bass throbs, synthy flourishes, and metronomic percussion.

“Retributions of an Awful Life” features the band superimposing baroque references and cinematic sweeps over a welter that draws as much from The Matrix and John Wick soundtracks as Trent Reznor and the ecstasy-fueled pulses of rave. Orme pivots between an adrenalized sprechgesang and mock-operatic intonations. Midway an instrumental segment blends an underlying drone and high-pitched accents, making effective use of fluctuations in volume.

On the title cut, Orme’s voice is notably compressed, giving it a “transistor” effect, and dabbed with reverb. Supple and serrated tones are juxtaposed, the band displaying an affinity for audial paradoxes. Pained vocals bring to mind HTRK and Drab City, though singers Jonnine Standish and Asia lean toward a sadcore vibe, while Orme drifts toward what might be dubbed a bipolar delirium. “Remove the chains my wrists are in strain”, Orme repeats, offering a self-portrait that points to the broader loss of humanism in the cogs of capitalism and digitalization.

“24 Hours” combines beat flurries and synthy swells, veering between metallic rhythms and techno-inflected crescendos. Orme again combines a spoken-word style, in this case invoking ennui, and melodic vocals that convey urgency, all the while addressing the socio-existential realities of deep conditioning, materialism, and dissociation.

With A Comforting Notion, Orme moves between dejection and expostulations of lyrical and musical outrage, one moment wallowing in nihilism, the next celebrating the mysteries of birth, sex, death, and creativity. She has clearly absorbed many of popular music’s important templates, asserting a multifaceted voice that captures life’s highs, lows, and in-betweens.

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