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Crag - Body Low [Small Worm - 2021]

Body Low is a harsh noise release that blends together densely textured with moody-to-surreally searing noise matter. The C70/ digital download is both brutally thick, yet trippingly heady- which is certainly a usually/ difficult mix, but this release largely managers to carry it off in a compelling/ brain-twisting manner.

The release appeared in early February of this on Small Worm- a London based label that’s run by respected noise scenester James Shearman. The physical tape release came in an edition of just ten copies- and these have sadly now all sold out, with the digital download been the only option now. The white shelled & individually dubbed cassette appeared in a clear case- with each white sleeve featuring hand-drawn black ethnic shapes & texts.

Crag is a three-piece project bringing together James Shearman, with Nel Briones and Chester Masangya- both from Philippines synth noise project White Widow. As far as I can gather Body Low is the projects first/ only release, and I must say I’m most impressed- as the project has a decidedly distinctive/ one-off sound, which is both crushingly weighty & headily unsettling.

The release features two tracks per side of tape- and kicking things off we have “Binding Curse”, this eleven and a half minute is a great start to proceedings- really representing what to expect over the rest of the release. We find thick & churning weave of droningly raging lows, blunt judders, and lapping reels. Over this, we get find a selection of stretched & screaming horn-like bays, dragged-out wails, and sourly watery high pitched forks. All creating this very tortuous & hellish Arabic type vibe.
Next, we have the 20.02 of “Kurenai” here we find densely grinding & gritty noise roll,  which is mixed with a shifting selection of fizzing grain clutters, baying mid-ranged soars, and forking-to-caustically dragging high pitched tone sweeps.  All creating a feeling of both rolling  & bone marrow freezing intensity, and sheared playfulness.

Moving onto the next side, and first, up we have the just over ten and a half minutes of “Purgatory Scorch”- here we open with a mix of clamouring grain noise texturing and roaming siren wave sustain. As we move on the siren tones fade back, and we find spiralling descending maelstrom of dense crackle & feast edged skating slices and jittering hover. All giving the track a feeling of being inside a decidedly erratic & noisily malfuncting UFO.
The release is topped off with "Wild Wind", this is the longest track here at just shy of the twenty-five minutes, and it very much fits its title- but it’s a wind that’s ridden by baying & scratching demons. We find a blend of intense sweeps, gruelling buffets, and shredding dense bays- these are edged by a shifting stream of searing static washes, whining & climbing tone builds. As the track goes on a more seared-but- hauntingly whistling feel comes to the fore, and this nicely pulls you into deeper & deeper into the dense maelstrom.

It’s a real big pity this tape went out of print so quickly in its physical form- as I do think it’s one of the early noise highlights of 2021. Let’s hope this won’t be the last we hear of Crag, and if you like where searing density-meets- scorched yet surreal harsh noise this will most certainly be for you. Head here to download the album.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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