Review: Clawing – Labour

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Label: Grey Matter Productions

In an ideal world, an album like Labour wouldn’t need to exist. The new album from Clawing is unflinching in its depiction of drug-induced misery, that has such a sense for small details that it’s clear that this album is drawing deeply from personal experience. As you’d expect for any project involving Matt Finney, it’s a dark, harrowing journey, with practically no light; just an almost suffocating level of claustrophobia, dread, and the certain knowledge that there will be no happy endings. And yet. Labour is also a very rewarding listen; sure, it’ll ruin your day, but when the music is this good, it feels churlish to complain about that.

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Review: Clawing / Offerbeest – Split

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Label: Nailbat Tapes

Even by the standards of extreme music, this split is pretty harrowing. Clawing blend dark ambient soundscapes with Matt Finney’s spoken word contributions, which – if you’re familiar with his work – you know means that you’re in for an emotionally heavy time. Offerbeest is one of the aliases of Maurice de Jong, perhaps best known for his work as Gnaw Their Tongues. His tracks here are no less devastating than those released under that well-known moniker, being filled with harsh noise and industrial oppression, conjured via analog synths. Hardly an enjoyable trip, then – but it’s not meant to be. Instead, it is a split that forces you to confront your demons, to face what is haunting you, throwing yourself into the nightmare and hoping to emerge on the other side.

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Review: Clawing – Spectral Estate

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Label: Dullest Records

Matt Finney has, through sheer hard work and determination, become something of a genre unto himself. His spoken word style is distinctive, both in its delivery – straight-forward, matter-of-fact, recounted almost without emotion at times – and also its subject matter which is, invariably, dealing with the bleaker parts of life. Such is the case with Clawing, which also features Austin Gaines and Jeff McLeod, and their debut release Spectral Estate. Over the course of forty minutes, the trio craft a record that is never anything less than unsettling, with its industrial/dark ambient soundscapes shifting and morphing in disturbing fashion, as if they were an expression of broken lives trying to piece themselves back together without success, all topped off with Matt’s spoken words. It’s horrific in its bleakness, but also deeply impressive and hard to look away from.

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