Photographer: Johnny Shahnazarian.
Clay Rendering consists of Ypsilanti, Michigan-based Mike and Tara Connelly, a married couple who are typically known for participating in noise and experimental music projects, most notably Wolf Eyes and Hair Police. With this outfit, however, they create brooding, ethereal darkwave pop songs with delicate pianos, icy sheets of piercing guitar, and softly pounding drum machines. What sets their sound apart more than anything else is Tara's accordion playing. Instead of going in some sort of lighthearted goth cabaret direction like several artists on Projekt, she emphasizes the eerie, droning qualities of the instrument, playing it in harmony with the chilling synthesizer tones. Two instrumentals set the stage at the beginning of the album, with the accordion-driven opener "Maps on the Floor" succeeded by "Swallow the Century," which features softly screeching feedback textures and a resounding guitar melody. Guest vocalist Becka Diamond takes the lead for "Sight from Up Here," a heart-rending '80s goth anthem with one of the album's most immediately catchy melodies. "Fall Off the Bed" and "Memory Loses Momentum" are faster and more up-front, recalling some of Cold Cave's more accessible work, but a bit bleaker and more obscured. Mike's vocals are generally shrouded in echo and hard to discern, and they seem to drift away on the album's title track, but they still manage to convey intense feelings of loss and alienation. Snowthorn is a powerful debut album that offers a fresh perspective on age-old dark, haunting sounds. ~ Paul Simpson