Shell: “Caterpillar” Review
I generally look to either Brute Heart or Mother for Fire for all of my doom-viola/violin needs, so upon hearing the plucked violin opening to Shell’s debut tape Caterpillar, my mind immediately wondered if the music involved Jackie Beckey or Naomi Joy. But no! The Twin Cities has a new dark muse of the strings – Nate Crary, who in addition to Jeff Carlson and Josh Lutterman make up Shell. And upon delving deeper into Caterpillar it becomes more obvious that, while in some ways similar, Crary’s style is also distinct from hi viola/violin playing peers. While Beckey and Joy each have their own uniquely savage/passionate approach to their instruments, Crary’s violin is, in his own way, more restrained and deliberate in his approach.
Caterpillar is full of slowly creeping instrumentals that combine Crary’s violin (and other electronic touches) with Carlson’s bass and Lutterman’s drums. The sound generally skews towards the Metal spectrum (particularly in tunes like “Facestealers/The Child”) but also contains a considerable number of departures from that category: “Deep Sockets” is a melancholy mélange of strings, drums and electronic ephemera. Standout track “Corpus Troglodyte” is a meditatively paced mixture of styles. And there’s a great deal more nuance to be found. Caterpillar is a highly enjoyable listen and repeat experiences continue to yield new appreciation for the artistry involved in producing it.
Stream Caterpillar in its entirety below. The band’s next show is June 13th at the Hexagon Bar