“Clutched in the Maw of the World” is the follow-up Alder & Ash album released at the same time as the debut was re-issued by Lost Tribe Sound. Both got the deluxe physical treatment with a hand crafted sleeve in an edition of 150 copies each.
Lost Tribe Sound had this to sat about the artist: “Alder & Ash treads on the experimental fringes of modern classical, perhaps too abrasive to play nice with the coy melodrama of the scene. Yet, the music has enough grit to take hold of lovers of doom, noise, and the like, perhaps winning over new fans of cello music from even the most hardened black metal die-hards.”
“The Merciless Dusk” starts off with screeching feedback like noises with slowly strummed cello that has a very distraught sound to it. The cello plays mournfully over the screeching, but is used sparingly with great restraint which emphasizes the melancholic feel to it. There is a sense of loss in the tone of the cello that is inescapable.
“A Seat Amongst God and his Children” percussive use of the cello’s body alongside long bass thumps are joined by layered sections of melodic lines that cut in an out before the percussion and bass drop out and a tale of woe is introduced by the lead section which reaches low notes, before the previous sections of percussion and bass return with added distortion changing the tone of the piece and adding a level of almost violence to it. This goes in cycles with the quieter piece coming back before it descends back into the distorted section. The juxtaposition of the different in volume is quite pronounced and effective. A note should be made of the recording of the cello which highlights the accents of the instrument.
“All his own, the Lord of Naught” bass thumps underneath scraped loops are accompanied by spindly cello lines with a ghostly presence. A Ponticello section brings in a darker section of distorted loops followed by strumming and scraping of the strings before heading back into the noise. The strummed and scraping sections give the feel of an old western soundtrack which is opposite to the freak out of the Ponticello and loops.
“Clutched in the Maw of the World” layers of buzzsaw cello cut through the air filling up the sound,balancing both light and shade. It’s not long before an emotive and despair-like central piece takes the solo focus over the drone like other sections. As the track moves on the buzzsaw sections start to keep getting ever so slightly heavier and a background section of squall like distortion builds up and swarms over the track to its completion.
“The Great Plains of Dust” when this track starts you have to check that you are not listening to a track by Stoner legends Sleep such is the heaviness of the beginning. An orchestral like section of drones joins the thump and they come across like a track from the “A Clockwork Orange” soundtrack. The drones have a semi distorted stab like feel. The track then changes into a familiar Alder & Ash track with the distorted bass loops and fluid cello lines over the top. Again the cello sounds returns for a brief section to the Stoner realm with its deep bass tone, before the playing turns emotive and leads into a further distorted and layered section. The track manages to traverse Stoner Rock, Classical and Alt country/folk with an apparent ease.
“Seeds of a Sallow Earth” deft acoustic picking and use of the percussive qualities of the cello welcome affected sections that sound like transmissions from a radio, such is their removed sound. The cello is battered and slapped and gently plucked and strummed resulting in the most experimental of the tracks over the two albums.
“The Merciful Dawn” after some light drones and minimal bass thumps long and emotive cello lines occur minimally and unforced. The lines have a slight, but not overpowering melancholic feel to them. The lines are replaced with layers of gently strummed and more forcefully plucked strings and hitting of the body of the cello which you can detect a ring hitting it.
“The Glisten, The Glow” the percussive slap and gently strummed strings are joined by a layered section of strummed cello which gives the track a feel of a post rock track due to all the elements joining together with not one having a tone that leads it any given direction. The use of pace and space gives the track a hint of restraint that is held on till the middle of the track where there is a slight sense of urgency of the cello as if something needs to be conveyed. Towards the end the urgency is replaced by grandeur as the tone of the cello is more emotive and almost lyrical in its lines. This particular track and “The Great Plains of Dust” are the two stand out tracks of the album for very different reasons.
“Clutched in the Maw of the World” follows the sound template of “Psalms for the Sunder”, but extends it further with the use of silence, pace, atmosphere and leading the music in a grander soundtrack-esque style. While “Psalms…” was obviously a cello based record, “Clutched…” while also being a cello record shows more depth and variance in its compositions and the colors that the music displays. A recommended listen.