For a band with a release called DOOM+DOOM=OMG!!! in its discography, Crab Smasher really isn’t all that menacing — or silly. The Newcastle quartet pursues a sort of full-band drone, but it’s often more ambient or post-punk than doom. Yet there’s consistently a mysterious, engaging quality to the band, not to mention a free-for-all range well beyond most instrumental improv acts. Recorded live, half at home and half in a Sydney studio, this cassette mini-album is limited to 60 copies (including download) but is also available as a download. (And you can stream it for free: http://crabsmasher.bandcamp.com) Listening on tape is a bonus, as the iffyness of the medium can become one more part of the wobbly atmosphere.
Wielding guitar, bass, drums, synths, and sampler, the band kicks off Thick Mosquito Sky with the U.S Maple-ish ‘The Dancing Girl And The Burning Town’, thin and blown-out at the same time. It sinks its hooks in quickly, whereas the seven-minute ‘Europa’ is like a noise track slowed to the rate of a blissful IV drip. ‘Deep Water Attack’ is a brief, squishy detour living up to its title, and the tape’s first side ends with ‘Digging A Hole In A Dried Up Lake’, a meek and eventually glistening, watery drone. It’s a bit cosmic and quite pretty, especially at the end.
The second side sees Crab Smasher no easier to predict. We move from the spooky, misshapen ‘Spaghetti Helmet’ and the brutalised melody of ‘The Ice’ to the appropriately submerged ‘Separated By The Distance Of Oceans’ and the bass-searching, guitar-skittering ‘Snakes In The Grass’. The blurting ‘The Science Of Running Really Fast’ is almost surf-ish at times and leads us to the closing ‘Battle Of The Bands’, which is siren-like before accelerating and then suddenly finishing. The tracks seem to bleed together in memory almost the second a new one is upon us. And true to the band’s volatile intentions, songs collapse and explode at any given moment.