134

Splinter Group: Blowing Down Blue Sky

Farrell Lowe By

Sign in to view read count
Splinter Group: Blowing Down Blue Sky This album is cool! Sorta like crashing down your favorite alley in the back seat of Satan's Cadillac with the top down and the radio tuned to a shortwave criss-cross. Imagine hearing fuzzy nods to the likes of Can circa '74, Fred Frith guitar drones, strange Casiotone renditions of Fontana Mix, Jannick Top's magnetic bass lines, and Naked City stopped by the border patrol between what and where...jam it all together into a Kurt Schwitters-esqe collage, stand it up in a corner, and you'll begin to get a idea of where these folks are coming from.

The Splintered Ones have pushed the "Jazztronica" cultural envelope with their recontextualization of sonic media. On Blowing Down Blue Sky they seem less concerned with creating a backdrop for soloists, and much more concerned with breaking up the function of beats/rhythm (like early blues, the guitarist, G.E. Stinson often serves as the rhythm core), and establishing electronic trance states (reference: Can, Neu!, and the music of Jajouka filtered through Talvin Singh) as the foundation for improvisation.

To these ears, the Splinter Group is the "Jazztronica" edition of Ornette Coleman's early Prime Time band. Compare SG's sonic stew to Coleman's Dancing In Your Head. Both musics are focused on the ensemble voice and the restructuring of melody and rhythm. Both groups are interested in embracing every sort of cultural frequency (i.e. music, language, or patterns) to incorporate into their sonic matrix, and both groups are/were composed of strong improvisers.

A major difference between Splinter Group and Prime Time is that Coleman's concepts always included strong themes as the focus for group improvisation, and SG's do not. For instance, "Spoon" starts out in an amorphous cloud of illbient psychedelia, then gains momentum with simple drum overlays, one of the main threads of the piece is the simple wah-wah pattern of the guitar and the surging pulse of the bass, and the non-linear vocal style of Kaoru adds a soft melody to the mix. The second tune "Egg Shell Necklace" builds from a similar base, but goes into a more muscular, but no less dreamy state.

The heart and center of this band is revealed in "Snowman," where sonic overlays lap and weave a tapestry composed of extended guitar tones, subterranean electronic musings, surrealist singing, a wizened turntable babbler, and a throbbing bass. It is an opal of sound where the darkened intermittent transmissions from single voices combine into a neo-harmolodic choir of enlightened grace.

A strong sense of meaning courses throughout this disc—a Rosetta Stone for lost moderns, perhaps—that elevates the overall impact of this ensemble. They're on to something here, and it seems they don't know quite what it is... which is a good thing! They're as interested in the search as they are the goal of their quest.

Visit the Splinter Group at www.wdtchc.com

Track Listing: 1.spoon 2.egg shell necklace 3.snowman#1 4.shadow 5.blowing down blue sky 6.sleeping not sleeping

Personnel: G.E. Stinson-ex tech guitar, electronics Kaoru-voice,electronics, toys, objects Steuart Liebig-contrabass guitars, applied tools, tech DJ Chowderhead-turntables, minidisc

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: W.D.T.C.H.C. | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Avenida Graham" CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "R Train On The D Line" CD/LP/Track Review R Train On The D Line
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Overseas V" CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "Alien Flower Sutra" CD/LP/Track Review Alien Flower Sutra
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2016
Read "Euro Swing Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Euro Swing Vol. 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 24, 2016
Read "Imaginist" CD/LP/Track Review Imaginist
by Mike Jacobs
Published: December 1, 2016
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!