Review: Death Shanties - Crabs

Death Shanties - CrabsThere are moments when Renema pokes his saxophone snout against my eyes and brays, and I can feel the mix of spittle and warm exhalation condensing on my nose. Meanwhile, Neilson’s tom drums rap upon my knees until the caps fall off. Naturally, I’m riled and antagonised; berated and snarling, eager to join in and fight back. Slithers of fire start to flash between my ears, shooting up from within the persistent friction and wafts of stale heat. Renema and Neilson seem to suspend their bodily limits – I hear the point at which fatigue should kick in and I hear the duo rumbling past it, transfixed on the flames and sparks that spurt out of their instruments. I cease to feel threatened, and put my energy into clinging on instead.

The record feels like an improvisatory summoning rather than a dialogue. Saxophone slumps upon single notes and holds them, like a pole probing through the parallel dimension window, waiting for something to grip on, while drums roll back and forth as though shaking an object until the contents fall out. There is expectation and visceral self-belief, turning the recording room into a hub of magic and supernatural behaviour: the saxophone splits into two halves (one howling in injury, the other spinning and babbling in invocation) and the snare skins thicken into chiming bronze, rocking like a treasure chest turned into a baby cradle. Lucy Stein’s visuals are absent here, but an image search gifts a taste of what I can only splat upon my imagination: magma rashes running from toe to tip, strange animals swirled up into constellations and sand.