A new Splinter Orchestra album ‘Efforts’ – featuring ‘Poor Effort’ and ‘More Effort’ is available now through Caterpillar on Bandcamp. I played with Splinter a lot in 2021 while living up on Gadigal country as part of the Peggy Glanville Hicks residency, but strangely enough this release is all created remotely while we were in lockdown. The release coincides with the latest edition of ADSR zine (below) which features a short article and collated image reflecting the ‘Poor Effort’ process.
During the lockdowns of 2020 and 21, Splinter met weekly online, at first attempting ‘simultaneous’ improvisations — whatever that means, given the ambiguities and complexities of telecommunications over multiple cities, zones and continents.
Much of Splinter’s recent work you could describe as being eco-orchestral — many of the musical elements we listen to are in specific environments — we attune and de-tune to eco-tonalities, eco-rhythms, eco-timbres, eco-dynamics and eco-polyphonies, and join in. Mandy Stefanakis reviewing our work from 2019 ‘Dandry Flow’, writes;
More Effort – human player/recordists: Laura Altman, Nick Ashwood, Dosta, Jim Denley, Melanie Eden, Aviva Endean, Peter Farrar, Andrew Fedorovitch and Tony Osborne.
Poor Effort – recording/plays made by: Elly Brickhill, Jim Denley, Melanie Eden, Aviva Endean, Adam Gottlieb, Peter Farrar, Laura Altman, Andrew Fedorovitch, Tony Osborne and Bonnie Stewart.
Mixed by Peter Farrar, with help from Adam Gottlieb. Produced by Splinter.
Cover designed by Laura Altman
“The humility of their approach in occupying space with nature and adding to nature’s sounds, means that the listener often finds it hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins.”Loudmouth Aug. 2021
Online acoustics are not easily conducive to this philosophy, but as the lockdown continued we began to feel that non-synchronous recordings, where there was no attempt to play at the same time as other Splinters, and no attempt to hear other Splinters synchronistically — in effect exquisite corpses — produced interesting results that highlighted multiple diverse environments. These communal plays are meetings in the idea of the Orchestra, without a virtual or physical immediacy.
The first piece ‘Poor Effort’ was a response to listening back to many of these non-synchronous plays. There are 10 individual tracks in 10 separate spacetimes overlaid. The brief given was for each player to record for about 20mins but only give about 6.5% effort, thereby leaving space for the ambiences and sonic ecologies to poke through and flourish. It has a feeling of players just quietly being as their unique timespace unfolded. The second piece in this collection ‘More Effort’, recorded in the week leading up to the 18/09/21, had the simple instruction to submit a 20 minute recording.
Despite, or maybe because of the impediments of technology, these works exhibit a vast multi-perspectival eco-orchestral musicking, our sounds are woven into a single fabric, a shared material of which none of us is the sole creator, and there are many serendipitous and unknown players.