|Clawing – Spectral Estate|
As listeners, we turn to music for a vast range of reasons. For one, we try to integrate and emulate our experiences and surroundings in sound, try to find an emotional connection with sounds in search of a different or enhanced reality. Clawing offer something unique here: Insight into very real horrors of this world.
Clawing is a band consisting of Austin Gaines (Calques), multi-instrumentalist Jeff McLeod and poet Matt Finney, a trio able to evoke the darkest and most disturbing feelings and sceneries imaginable. Finney´s words gently lull you into the scene, a faux awakening and encounter with a surreal father figure that gives way to murky soundscapes. A scorched mess gauging your sense of direction. Cyclical. in an almost prayer like atmosphere, Gaines, and McLeod lead you deeper into a percussive attack of noise and guitar drones copulating. Everything crashes, Finney re-emerges buried and the dream-state becomes a hollow vessel of black. Only the opener, “Mythology”!
As a concept album, Spectral Estate is the trios take on nightly terrors, experienced as a survivor of child abuse and after the irredeemable transformation of home into a haunted house. In this, perception and fictional images blur together, what might be actual experience interlocks with scary tableaus of childhood. After “Mythology” creates external fear of the imaginary, “Gourds” relays inner visions, the shellshock of the terrors twisting images of life and survival into blood-splattered birds in pumpkins. This short attacks seamlessly flows into “A Clearing”, an airy combustion of the recurring cyclical guitar drones and shredded synth noises, resting and rising after Finney´s bleak vision of nature and nurture turn upside down. What Clawing expertly perform for the listener is the very real mental alienation ensuing after experiences of abuse. Paranoia, a bleakness that lets the perpetrator become an ever-present shade in the experiences of the victim, regardless if actually occurring or a dream itself. Detachment is not an option. Think Hansel and Gretel, but without the fairy tale aspect of it, no return after pushing the bad witch into the oven and strolling off into a better future, only the certainty of being broken, the inability to unsee and un-experience what was done to you trickling down to starve even the possibility of a hopeful outlook on life.
“Coma” and “Plastic Glowing Stars” follow the previous tracks, deepening the drones and immersive noise reminiscent of Tim Hecker or most recent work by Dominick Fernow´s Prurient. Yet, spaces become more apparent and even hints of melody shine through. Or much rather, after sitting in this hole for the first two tracks, the scapes become eerily familiar and create a sense of false comfort. The point of apathy and atrophy in which the need for a home and own space normalize the fight for sanity within a “learning to live with it”. The album finds its conclusion with "Home" and Finney´s looped lines of “go to sleep” and “let me go” tumbling over one another. Yet again a cyclical occurrence hardening the concept of nightly terrors and insomnia induced hallucinations clinging to the real as tight as the imagined. It is as much laying awake, wishing to find sleep, as well as the frustrated twilight-state between being asleep and awake. The fatigued desire of being freed from these nightmares and disturbing experiences that rob you of your sleep or darken the hours that might be left.
While Fernow described his recent epic Rainbow Mirror as deathscapes, the only title to give Clawing´s slow explosion of Spectral Estate is that of hauntscapes. The uncanniest thing as a listener might be the suggestion of the pure virtuosity of three artists able to tap into the darkest veins of gloomy music contesting the expression of actual experiences. Spectral Estate acts as the recitation of the realism of abuse, especially following Finney´s vocal work here, and on his other projects. A listening experience that might as well serve as the representation of surviving sexual abuse and being forever homeless, haunted by the alleged place of safety turning into a space of pain and dread, threatening to be forever present.