After the dissolution of Khanate, Alan Dubin went on to form Brooklyn-based GNAW, whose line-up includes Brian Beatrice, Carter Thornton (Enos Slaughter), Eric Neuser, Jun Mizumachi (Ike Yard), and now Dana Schechter (Insect Ark, ex-Angels Of Light) on lap steel guitar. With two albums behind them — This Face (2009) and Horrible Chamber (2013) — GNAW’s third full-length Cutting Pieces is now poised for release by Translation Loss on October 27th.
“Poised” is actually not the right word. It would be more accurate to say that the album is coiled back on its haunches, like some giant demon rat, twitching and about to lunge at our heads. “Rat“, in fact, happens to be the name of the album’s opening track, and the song that will be lunging at you at the end of this post.
Cinematic terror seems to be GNAW’s preferred means of expression. They’ve disclosed that for this album they have employed such tools in its creation as “Chinese cello, Weevil, conga, sawed off Kramer, Drone Thing oscillator, Alto sax, homemade light oscillator, micro cassette recorder, chain link fence, a small child, 2002 Toshiba laptop, voice dictator and space bar”, in addition to guitars, bass, drums, and voice.
In addition to that arsenal of instruments and implements weren’t sufficient, Stefania Alos Pedretti of the Italian noise rock act OvO contributed background vocals to the track “Septic,” and Swiss saxophone player and sound artist Antoine Chessex (ex-Monno) contributed saxophone and amplifier to “Triptych.”
But let’s turn now to the new song (while continuing to worry about the fate of that small child).
According to GNAW: “’Rat‘ was conceived in individual heliocentric hallucinations as we each submerged ourselves in separate self-deprecation chambers. We feel it is a perfect album lead-off song. It’s visual. It feels like an entrance to a dark recess.”
All of that sounds entirely true, based on the experience of listening to “Rat“. But perhaps it’s worth adding a warning that if you’ve been feeling as if you were losing your mind, you may not find it again after listening to “Rat”, or if you do find it, you may find it lying in quivering shards.
The unhinged intensity of the vocals alone are enough to boil the brain and send electric shocks down the spine and deep into the ground. The cavernous oscillating vibrations that pulse and ripple across the bottom of track are ominous and hallucinatory all by themselves, too. The eruptions of raw, catastrophic noise and gut-busting drum slugs, which initially come without warning, threaten to induce seizures even after you figure out that they’re going to keep coming.
It all works together to pillage and plunder the listener’s sanity without mercy, and to leave in its place a feeling of crippling paranoia. The feeling will pass, probably. Maybe by tomorrow. Some of us will need to go outside soon.
Cutting Pieces was mixed by Brian Beatrice and was once again mastered by James Plotkin. The graphic and type design for the cover was done by French designer Sebastien Hayez, who also created the covers of the first two GNAW albums.
Translation Loss will release Cutting Pieces on LP, CD, and digital formats on October 27th. Pre-order links are below. In addition, GNAW will be making some live appearances in Brooklyn next month, including a record release show on the 29th:
10/07/2017 The Paper Box – Brooklyn, NY @ Nightside Of Eden Fest (w/ Sonic Witchery, T.O.M.B., Abazagorath, Teloch Vovin, and more)
10/29/2017 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY *(record release show w/ Couch Slut, Syndromes, and more)
GNAW on Facebook: