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Clavicvla Blend Horror, Tension, and Atmospherics on “Ma”


It’s difficult to turn pure atmosphere into something compelling. This is the challenge of death industrial and dark ambient music: to create worlds without traditional muscality. It’s music that operates mostly through the power of suggestion. Without a measured hand, it can easily crash and burn. At worst, such projects default to the same shrieks, cold synthesizer blasts, and samples that have been in vogue in noise music for nearly 40 years. But, when it’s carefully considered, the results can be deeply satisfying.

Clavicvla is not phoning it in. The nameless Italian and former black metal artist behind the project creates thick, suffocating walls of sound with minimal percussion and an ever-increasing wall of groaning synths. On his upcoming full-length Sermons, Clavicvla aims at channelling abstract (and, to these ears, abject) horror. This isn’t Lovecraft’s cosmic horror; what awaits listeners on Sermons isn’t tentacles and psychological torment, but something entirely unknowable and altogether more frightening.

On “Ma,” premiering exclusively above, Clavicvla builds layers of frequencies so bass-heavy they begin to sound organic. It’s a churning, grotesque affair best listened to at full-volume either on headphones or on quality speakers. As the noise begins to build into a hulking mass, low, guttural vocals in the vein of Portal rumble in, an inhuman testament to the unsettling power of the human voice.

“Ma” is successful because it is all tension. Where other projects might use all this atmosphere as a build-up to something more musical, Clavicvla ends right when the mood is almost unbearable. It hints at something even darker on the horizon. The bones in the foreground of the album art are fitting, but it is the shadowy hills in the background, full of unknown terrors, that best represent Clavicvla’s place in the world of death industrial.

— Michael Siebert

Sermons is out November 23th on Sentient Ruin. Pre-order the album here.

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