Claw The Thin Ice
Travelling Man Comic Store, Manchester
10th May 2013

Ian Breen’s new project Claw The Thin Ice play a comic store – it’s noisy, thrilling and full of graphic novels.

Sometimes getting back in the writing saddle is made all the more easy by happenstance…in this case spotting within the less obvious web listings, a band’s free gig in a city centre comic and book store, fronted by a member of one of my favourite, but sadly no more, local rock outfits.

Drifting around the city’s watering holes on a night out, it seemed rude not to pop into The Travelling Man book and gaming store on Dale Street.  Between the bookcases and racks lined with fantasy novels and compelling ink art, I find this exciting quartet bristling with heavily amplified tunes, carved earnestly and enthusiastically from what could be  a local brew of the Deep Elm and Swami Records book of sounds and rock and roll ethics.

Claw The Thin Ice are led by Ian Breen,  the former central staple of Mancunian prog/math/post/rock masters Day For Airstrikes and principal architect of this exciting new project. Claw The Thin Ice has been the regular moniker for Breen’s recent musical journals. Previously these consisted of dreamy drone landscapes and noise experiments, some of them highly personal. In this latest  (r)evolution he’s condensed the ideas from 30 songs into an upcoming 11 track album on Get Into It Records and assembled a cast of worthy musicians who ably complement his ideas and strategies.

Tonight Claw The Thin ice are in the round, flanked by the city’s incumbent alt.rock fanbase. It’s a wonderfully intimate sound, awash with colliding guitars, prominent bass lines and quick-fire drumming which all amounts to an incredibly tight and invigorating assault. Yet, it’s Breen’s song compositions and hooklines that capture the imagination.  Whilst Breen’s reputation precedes him, he’s also an unlikely, unassuming character, until he steps into the limelight, triple humbuckered  guitar in hand. Here he’s flying the flag for Manchester’s modern post rock scene and overflowing with intelligent song design and hard charging melodies, which he delivers as he manipulates the sounds of his excited guitar distortions. In truth, the real evidence is here in this climatic celebration of left field but accessible off kilter rock.

Tracks like “Birthday” point to ambitions placed far beyond the territories marked by our county’s  border. The tunes stand tall, the guitar riffs incandescent. A full set covering most of the new album is incredibly satisfying and inspiring, the noises and hooks still ringing into the night as the last shards of feedback and rude janglings resonate into the Northern Quarter, and I shuffle out of one of the most entertaining pop up gigs I’ve encountered for years…

Claw The Thin Ice can be found on Facebook here & they have a Bandcamp page. The Travelling Man’s website is here.

All words by Jon Ashley. More writing by Jon on Louder Than War can be found here.

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