Snowthorn is the long awaited debut album from Mike Connelly (Wolf Eyes / Hair Police) and his wife, Tara, recording together as Clay Rendering.
Perhaps the most compelling of all the many projects started by one-time members of Wolf Eyes, Clay Rendering came to life in 2013 and have since released a trio of singles for Hospital Productions that have gained them the admiration of followers spanning both electronic and metal communities.
Their material occupies unique terrain, recalling The Cure’s widescreen Disintegration-era instrumentals, cut through with a Black Metal palette and an appreciation of electronic music that imbues their production (notably assisted by Dominick Fernow) with an end-of-world quality that’s impossible to pin down. Evoking Nine Inch Nails one moment, you find yourself in a smoke-filled, strobe-lit Road House the next; bleary-eyed, head spinning, coming down.
Guitar, Accordion, Piano and electronics underpin these songs, opening with the whirling death march of ‘Maps on The Floor’ and the funereal trudge of “Swallow The Century” before the grinding fuzz of “Sight From Up There” changes pace with the addition of a forlorn piano melody and Becka Diamond’s distant vocal zooming in on half-remembered songs, rendered here with hazy definition.
“Fall Of The Bed” and “Memory Loses Momentum” find Clay Rendering at their most visceral and catchy; a reminder that they are first and foremost a band that write incredible songs, often submerged in fuzz and atmosphere, but here left exposed, bare, on display.
And yet the title track “Snowthorn”, “River Without” and the incredible album closer “Night To Perish” edge the album from the bleak and into the sublime, turning away from the snowy landscapes their music so often evokes, instead pulling you deep into night…
• Additional production by Dominick Fernow, additional vocals by Becka Diamond
• Mastered by Paul Corley, cut at D&M, Berlin
• A delicate yet uncompromising set of songs drifting somewhere between Gothic, Ambient, Black Metal and Dream Pop.