Clawing – Labour (Review)

Clawing - LabourThis is the latest album from US drone/noise band Clawing

I like Clawing. I mean, in the way that I like getting my eyes scratched out. This is a deeply unpleasant band producing deeply unpleasant music. As I’m sure I’ve stated previously, this is not normally my kind of thing. Noise/drone like this usually leaves me cold. There are some notable exceptions, of course, (Merzbow and Gridfailure, to name a couple), but by and large this is not my thing.

Releases like Spectral Estate and their split with Offerbeest mean that Clawing are one of the other rare exceptions too, however.

So, why do I continue to gravitate towards what Clawing do? I am unsure. I mean, it’s not as if you could sit back and listen to this for any form of relaxation or fun. Labour consists of a single 30-minute track, and it’s not very nice. At all. So why do I bother? Well, sometimes you just want to not only stare into the abyss, but jump into it and get lost in the darkness. For times like that, there’s Clawing.

Industrial, dark ambient, noise, drone…whatever you call this, and whatever foul deals the artists behind this project have made to give birth to this filth, the end result is a crawling, malignant soundscape that unfolds with gradual tension and mounting horror. Various sounds, moods, and atmospheres are explored across the track, none of them healthy or wholesome, and all of them foul and corrupted.

It’s clear, as you take the journey that Labour offers, that this is a piece of work that has had a lot of thought and attention given to it. Sparse, but never under-populated, Labour has an atmosphere that you could wade into and get smothered by. One of the reasons that I like what Clawing produce is the fact that their work actually changes and undergoes dynamic shifts and tonal alterations as it progresses. This isn’t static and lifeless, but dynamic and vibrant, albeit in a devastatingly bleak and powerfully negative way.

Spoken word – something I typically despise – is used once more on this release, but like previously it manages to, (miraculously), add to the music rather than detract from it. Used sparingly, but well-performed when it appears, Clawing once again manage to deliver one of the few examples of spoken word used well in a musical project.

With a dark concept that deals with the ravages of substance abuse, this is not an album for the weak of constitution. It is, however, worth visiting if you want to delve into the darker side of life.

Approach this with caution.

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