Friday, 24 August 2018

Clawing - Spectral Estate


Labels: Dullest Records
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 23 Feb 2018

Tracklist:

1. Mythology
2. Gourds
3. A Clearing
4. Coma
5. Plastic Glowing Stars
6. Home


The last release to see the light of day through Philadelphia's (PA, USA) Dullest Record was this album by tortured drone/noise band Clawing, from Montgomery (AL, USA). I don't know too much about the band themselves but I believe that "Spectral Estate" was their debut. It was released digitally in early February by the band and followed very shortly after on tape. The trio gives very little away, preferring instead the psychological images brought on by their music.

Opening with Mythology, the album’s lengthiest piece, Clawing paints a stark picture with ambient noise and spoken word lyrics that speak of a harsh reality. There’s subtle melody hidden in the depths but no real sense of light, as you’d expect from this sub-genre. The trio weaves experimental soundscapes using both traditional instruments and electronics, giving their sound elements of the haunting and the futuristic. Gourds isn’t the melancholic song you expect it to be, as the calmness is shattered by what is either extreme feedback-ridden screams or just harsh electronics. Whatever it is, it’s a jolting sound that makes this short number very hard to ignore. 

The switch to drone on A Clearing is welcome after the abrasiveness of Gourds. That said, Clawing still manages to produce something that’s menacing, while also being mesmerising too. Throughout my time as a hobbyist writer/blogger (almost 8 years now), I’ve never been able to fully get absorbed by drone/noise and I’ve always needed the more traditional/familiar band structures to be present on recordings and that hasn’t changed. I have grown to appreciate it though as I’ve delved deeper into extreme metal and so this feels like a natural listen. 

The combination of percussion and guitar effects during Coma form something of a release. There’s definitely a sense of less is more here and the initial reluctance to flood the song with layers and layers of noise is a nice touch. It’s minimalistic structure and reliance on those more traditional instruments make you realise that this is the work of a fully functioning band and not just someone in their bedroom making sounds with a synthesiser (not that there is anything wrong with that at all). Distant light finally manages to punctuate “Spectral Estate” thanks to the ambient melody that flows through Plastic Glowing Stars. As the title suggests, there is a cosmic element to it all and the spaciness that’s mixed with the introspective lyrics makes perfect sense. It feels like you’e staring beyond the black void and onto something more cleansing and warm. 

Home is the final song and at this point it almost feels like you’ve come full circle on “Spectral Estate”. The harrowing, hellish feelings of that might have overcome you earlier on are replaced by feeling of relief and quiet contemplation. Despite the uneasy undercurrent that this release possesses, it’s still easy to enjoy. I may have approached and described it in a different way to how it was perceived by Clawing themselves, but that’s the beauty of music I guess. If you’re tastes go beyond the usual Horror movie soundtracks and extreme metal worship, then this is definitely one to bury yourself in. 

You can stream and download "Spectral Estate" directly from the band below:-




Tape copies can still be purchased from Dullest Records here - https://dullestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/spectral-estate

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