CaterpillarOur new digital sub-label; a platform for Sydney-based artists and collaborators affiliated with Splinter. For the duration of the coronavirus lockdown we’ll publish releases regularly, available to download on bandcamp.

Mark – Michael McNab Cat006
Drum Kit, Percussion, Suspended Drums, Polystyrene, Objects, Preparations.
In this improvised solo recording, Michael accompanies himself on the drum kit with three suspended and prepared drum sculptures, producing uncontrollable micro-rhythms within a more-or-less controllable gestural framework. Weighty metal preparations on the drum kit produce gong-like tones, while rubber mallets are used to create a growling friction, both on the drum kit and on some taut rubber bands around a polystyrene box. The box also has a contact microphone and two aluminium triangles (a hand-made gift from kinetic sound sculptor Ernie Althoff) attached, adding a delicate metallic texture. Other objects include some large marbles in a cotton bag, and a plastic hi-vis traffic flag, used at the end of the piece to make some subtle fabric sounds.Released October 2, 2020Recorded by Michael McNab in Naarm/Melbourne, June 2020. Mixed and Mastered by Jim Denley. Cover art by Michael McNab.

Thanks to Ren Walters, Clinton Green, Jim Denley, Dale Gorfinkel, Ernie Althoff, Peter Farrar, Laura Altman & Nick Ashwood. Michael says: I’d like to acknowledge the true custodians of the land on which I live, work and play – the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. I extend my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

guitar album – Peter Farrar Cat 005a0961134934_16

Peter Farrar is perhaps best known as a saxophonist, having released his acclaimed solo sax record “Avocado” on Splitrec in 2016. While “Guitar Album” shares little sonically with “Avocado”, the music maintains a continued exploration into tunings, resonances and general distorted acoustic buzziness – this time using a guitar or two. There is a kind of fractured cyclicity to the music here which, combined with metallic chime-like resonances, can create a somewhat meditative listening experience. A saxophone is at times played as well.
The following description of Farrar’s previous work still seems relevant to this current release: “Always there is a rigorous focus on the materiality of the sonic phenomena he is releasing.” – (Splitrec)

Recorded 10/06/19, and mixed by the artist at Tempe Jets
Cover artwork by Adam Gottlieb

by the creek – Alexandra Spence, Dale Gorfinkel and Nick Ashwood Cat 004a2578123359_10.jpg

Nick Ashwood: prepared guitar, objects
Dale Gorfinkel: Deconstructed vibraphone bars and resonators, continuous bow mechanisms (cds on dc motors), mallets
Alexandra Spence: Tapes, small electronics, objects, clarinet

In September 2017 The Splinter Orchestra was invited to be a part of the Bundanon Trust Siteworks Residency, situated on Wodi Wodi land. 22 Splinters spent a week living, cooking, and playing music together in the bush. Nearing the end of the week Nick, Dale and Alex wandered down the hill, towards the creek. It was a hot and dry afternoon, and the conversation was sparse. Nick, travelling from Tasmania, had just met Alex and Dale for the first time, and Alex, recently returned from Canada, had not seen Dale in a long time as he was now Melbourne-based. 

The trail to the creek wound through dense gum trees, tumbled logs, and small green ferns. It was cool, green lit. Veering off path, balancing on wobbly rocks and logs, the three crossed over to a small clearing on the right side of the creek. Forming a small circle on the soft, cool earth, Nick performed prepared guitar, Dale with an assemblage of deconstructed vibraphone bars and resonators, continuous bow mechanisms (cds on dc motors) and mallets, and Alex with clarinet, tape loops, contact microphone and a small transducer speaker attached to a tin lid. 

It was the first time that Nick, Alex and Dale had played together as a trio. Improvised amongst the birds, the bugs, the trees, the logs, the lichen and the creek.

Static Swimmers – Jim Denley and Noel Meek Cat 003SAM_0115

Noel (NZ) and Jim (Aus) have been meeting across the ditch for over a decade. Their swimming together in the turbulent waters of the Tasman, Te Tai-o-Rehua, has produced these two offerings.

Both players are trained in specific music genres and are, at the same time and to varying degrees, Art Brut practitioners. Here they’ve plunged into the seething frequency sea without lifejackets. Any imposition of one swimming style would be inherently anti-ethical, as trained sub-selves swim while others flounder and sink without ‘the knowledge’ — splintering psyches and ultimately drowning.

So they ‘tread-water’ and ‘go with the flow’.

The structure and distribution of the turbulence, which constitutes a sort-of content of the description of their sounds, is not separate from the formative activity of the currents, which create, maintain and ultimately could dissolve the totality of their musical vortices. The danger might be that static, they drift towards well-tempered orthodoxy — get caught in rips of normality, but in reality, there’s too much noise in the weather.

Dandry Gorge Splinter Orchestra Cat002

Dundry FlowIn October 2018 Splinter travelled to The Pilliga, Gamilaraay country, to explore, listen, learn and record, in a period of intense drought. We were stunned by its rich avian sonoverse and troubled by the proximity of the proposed Narrabri Gas Project, which could see up to 850 coal seam gas wells drilled into this ancient landscape. 

Splinter spent 5 days and nights on the edge of The Pilliga Nature Reserve, mostly playing in and around our base at Eagle Valley; in gullies, over creek beds, in vast fields and splayed across rocky walls. We took a tour of the Sandstone Caves with Gamilaraay artist and ranger Brett Ashby who welcomed us to play as the sun set.

Dandry Flow. On a windy day, Splinter flowed from east to west — right to left in the stereo spectrum — down the dry bed. Two trees rubbed against each other and we used contact mics to capture their voicings. A few of us hid several other recording devices over a large area of the gorge. This recording is a stereo mix of ten separate tracks. 

There’s a bonus track if you purchase: Two Trees is what happened once we’d moved down the river, distant enough not to be heard. Just at the end, as we return to switch off recording devices, you hear our human presence.

Rhys Mottley – bass clarinet, Romy Caen – synth, Adam Gottlieb – trees, Melanie Eden – vocals, Jim Denley – bamboo flute and branches, Max Alduca – didge and double bass, Laura Altman – clarinet, Peter Farrar – junk percussion, Nick Ashwood – acoustic guitar, Alexandra Spence – electronics and clarinet, Solly Frank – prepared clarinet and smoke detectors, Bárbara Guzmán Galeb – voice, Andrew Fedorovitch – little instruments, Joseph Derrick – trumpet, Melanie Herbert – violin, Clara Pitt – flute, Bonnie Stewart – percussion, Weizen Ho movement and little instruments, Drew Bourgeois – in spirit.

Thanks to Nature Strip for generous funding to make this recording possible. Thanks also to Amy Putt and Jeremy Hegge.

Recorded by Splinter. Mixed by Jim Denley at Kaloola. Produced by Splinter.

Image Bárbara Guzmán Galeb.

Battery – Nick Ashwood and Laura Altman  Cat001

a0890892798_16Nick and Laura first met in 2017 and have been playing together both as a duo and in Splinter Orchestra since.

In March 2019 Laura travelled to nipaluna/Hobart, where Nick was living, to spend time playing, recording and hanging out — one afternoon was spent in a studio and two days in locations in and around the city. One of these places was Alexandra Battery in lower Sandy Bay — one of Nick’s favourite spots to play. They lugged their gear up a large grassy hill and then descended into the dark, reverberant concrete bunker where they played for an hour or so. The three pieces on this album are from this session.

Using clarinet, small amp feedback, tape players + cassettes, small objects, acoustic guitar and e-bows, their playing tends towards a series of colour exchanges that explore the possibilities of acoustic phenomena, methods of preparing instruments and long-form improvisational structures.

The artists feature on other Splitrec discs. Laura is a third of the trio Great Waitress, which released Lucid (Splitrec 22), and performed with Splinter Orchestra in their 3X CD release Mungo (Splitrec 27), while Nick’s guitar features in Submental by the trio 180º (Splitrec 29).

Battery was Recorded by the artists at Alexandra Battery, nipaluna / Hobart, TAS on Sunday 10th March, 2019. Mixed by Laura Altman. Artwork by Laura Altman and Nick Ashwood. Laura: clarinet, feedback, objects, Nick: acoustic guitar