The Splinter Orchestra
In late 2006 Splinter recorded at studio 301 in Sydney a new set of improvisations and procedural compositions, brilliantly recorded by Richard Belkner.
Chris Abrahams - piano + hammond. Robbie Avenaim - percussion. Shannon O'Neill - synth. Milica Stefanovic - electric bass. Peter Farrar - alto sax. Abel Cross - electric bass. Mike Majkowski - double bass. Gerard Crewdson - trombone. Dale Gorfinkel - vibraphone. Ben Byrne - laptop. Finn Ryan - percussion. Simon Ferenci - trumpet. Jim Denley - flutes and flax. Dan Whiting - laptop. Alex Masso - percussion. Karen Booth - alsto sax. Monika Brooks - accordian. Darren Moore - percussion. Rory Brown - double bass. Clayton Thomas - double bass. Cass McGlynn - tenor horn. Clare Cooper - guzheng. Mathew Ottignon - clarinet and flute. Lloyd Honeybrook - alto sax. Ian Pieterse - baritone sax.
"The Splinter Orchestra's music is like quicksand: it can suck you in, just as each of the 27 musicians relinquished his or her sense of self within this monumental improvising ensemble. Listening to it is like looking down on a jungle from above, with infinite layers of foilage making for an image without surface. Behind every sound lurks another sound, and then another. The result is eerie and weirdly beautiful; more diaphanous then dense, which is a tribute to both the subtlety of the interaction and the sophistication of the recording. Remarkable." John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald Jan 12 2008.
"This is their first recording and it demonstrates an increasingly conceptual approach to their compositions, possibly a survival mechanism to prevent everything from descending into chaos, yet intriguingly enough that never seems to have been one of the dangers, even early on. Perhaps this is because the group includes some of the best instrumentalists that Sydney has to offer, people like Chris Abrahams, Clayton Thomas, Claire Cooper, Jim Denley, and Shannon O'Neil. Here the group offer some rule based performances, split up into sections, and whilst still playing in a free manner they are somewhat restricted in what they can do. What's always been exciting about the Splinter Orchestra is the broad range of their sounds, everything from laptop musicians to accordion players, woodwind, sax, vibraphone and anything else you can think of, extended technique, the kitchen sink, even, gasp, the electric guitar. This means that even in those moments of restrained scratchy tranquillity, you know that hiding behind it is a mountain of controlled mayhem. Yet they never unleash. It seems to be about multilayering, about creating new textures, multifaceted drones, made up of groups of instruments, of peaks of density and subtle troughs, about unlikely associations and being able to draw upon the kitchen sink if need be. It's a remarkable example of control, and whilst you could imagine it would be a nightmare to record, it feels like you can hear, even feel, every squeak and scrape." Bob Baker Fish - Cyclic Defrost.
Chris Reid, Real Time. "That such large-scale improvisation can work at all is remarkable, and it works marvellously. The CD's total running time of 44 minutes seems underweight, but more might have resulted in less, given how carefully measured each element seems to be and how well it comes together as an opus. This is an enchanting disc, and a most important development both for The Splinter Orchestra and for music generally."
You can download an MP3 of the group here.