Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Splinter Orchestra - Mungo [Splitrec 027 Promo]

Upcoming on the Australian label Splitrec and set for release on January 27th, 2k17 is "Mungo", the projects second release on the imprint after their same titled debut in 2006. With this album stretched out over three CD's and a total run time of approx. 160 minutes we join the 21-piece orchestra going on a road trip from Sydney to Adelaide for a performance, a three days journey which took them to the Mungo National Park where they recorded their long and unusual piece according to their general approach of taking orchestral and experimental music to places beyond the venues where it's usually performed. With the first CD subtitled "Sunrise" and split in two parts we see the orchestra using a method of of moving around two stereo mics amongst and around the performing members of the group, capturing both a variety of scattered wind instruments and strings alongside the surrounding atmosphere of the Australian desert which, in combination, come down to a very calming, ancient effect that makes one really feel in sync with the spirits of nature, at least until fragments of a male voice, seemingly reciting facts from a book, appearing, dis- and re-appearing again when leaving or entering the microphones pick up radius, are becoming part of the scene, leaving us with thoughts about what kind of knowledge we're missing out throughout the course of "Zanci Homestead I" whilst background buzzes and carefully toned down percussions provide a steady, yet constantly evolving backdrop for what is going on. Furthermore, the shorter "Zanci Homestead II" focuses on a livelier, yet also kinda unsettling feel provided by a clustered array of flutes, sax / trumpets and pvc pipes alongside clanging metal objects whilst the recording persons footsteps on the desert sand add a natural rhythm signature which moves on a totally different path than the hyperabstract Free Jazz-reminiscing orchestra performance in this piece. Going into CD2, the so-called "Sunset" section, we find one long, 55 minutes spanning piece going by the name of "Woolshed" which refers to a massive wooden structure built in 1869 to be found at the recording site. Recorded by two microphonists wandering through the space we're experiencing the sonic happenings from different angles at the same time which seem to be of a warmer and more structured, maybe even conducted nature compared to the naturalistic flow of the preceding part of the album. In this session, we even find fragments of a singing female voice, some fluttering electronic sequences and - of course - the special acoustics provided by the "Woolshed" itself which, according to a photograph on the CD sleeve, can be compared to a wide, loft-like space under a not fully closed roof which allows the soundwaves to unfold in a unique way, pleasently underlining the multilayered piece that slowly builds up until it, at times, feels as chaotic, yet functional like a busy open air marketplace in a foreign, exotic country in which one simply is overwhelmed by loads and loads of new impressions and unknown sensations of any kind. Finally, the "Midnight" part brings us the "Airstrip", a discreet and slightly mysterious journey into the wonderful new sonic world of the Splinter Orchestra recorded in near total darkness, incorporating distant echoes of Jazz, decent use and abuse of the high frequency spectrum as well as broken down bits of human voices before swelling crescendoes and increased musical movements indicate cult'ish or ritual behaviour of sorts whilst short, out of context syllables, emulated animal noises and whispering voices accompany the nocturnal, slightly eldritch atmosphere captured throughout the course of this 38 minute ride. Fascinating!          

Album artwork on Instagram!      


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