SPLITTER ORCHESTER & FELIX KUBIN - REVIEWS
Translating Music, the Labor Sonor festival that took place in Berlin in 2015, is at the root of Shine On You Crazy Diagram. The festival invited performer-composers from the Echtzeitmusik sceneand beyond to interpret each other's work. One such artist, the mercurial Felix Kubin, translated the music of a major node in the Echtzeitmusik network, The Splitter Orchester.
Released on Kubin's own excellent Gagarin label, the four track vinyl LP Shine On You Crazy Diagram ia also available as a download with added bonus track "Diagram 3". Side A is entirely The 24 piece Splitter Orchester's domain, with "Diagram 1" and "Diagram 2" side B offers Kubin's interpretation of The Orchester's instant compositions.
"Diagram 1" has a sense of forward movement, though this eventually decays into a sparse dialogue between percussion and what sounds like an electronic high frequency that could be a convolution of strings and electronics or simply strings. This is one of the key aspects of Splitter Orchester: a spectralist like penchant for timbral composition and timbral mirroring; electronics and objects sound like traditional instrumentation and vice versa.
"Diagram 2" opens with vertiginous string drones and shimmering, glinting and glistening petals of metallic sounds. A conspiracy of shrill woodwind underpinned by a soft burr of white noise melts into gorgeous string glissandi. This becomes devoured by a squall of white noise, subsonic brass, electronics and cymbals. The end is oblique, signified by the solitary resonance of a gong.
Felix Kubin's take on this music is inventive and thoroughly captivating. "Lückenschere" starts with an electronic rhythm that might have taken its tempo and pattern from the opening motiv of "Diagram 1". The sequence intensifies into a Conrad Schnitzler-esque motorik acid rocker. Shards of The Orchester pierce its incessant lope.
For "Lichtsplitter" Kubin uses an 8-channel light scanner to scan the graphic score of The Orchester's "Diagram 2"; this data then either generates or modulates sound. It opens slowly with a slim line of high frequencies. An analogue synthesizer drips, whistles, chuckles, gurgles and giggles. Light percussion and the soft scrub of brushes on drum skins converse with what sounds like bows hoiked in plain air but probably isn't. The last few moment surge into an accelerated heavily compressed overload that ends abruptly with maximum dramatic effect.
- Richard Thomas, The Wire -
One could say: two sides of the same coin, two vistas of the same view; appearing like the
rendering of an identikit picture. On the first side the Splitter Orchestra plays its inimitable style
of improvised composition - music indebted as much to John Cage as to the Gruppo di
Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza and above all, taking these cues right and well into
contemporary domains. The group uses no scores to reach a depth and clarity of constructed
sound masses that bristle with slowly unfolding spaces, both literal and aural. Energetic spiky
percussion and crashing glass open up a deep dark and uncomfortable drone into narrative
spooky qualities. A play for sounds; a Hörspiel that morphs in shape and size with content matter
and plot being constantly thrown across the sonic scene. High frequencies shriek and pierce the
sky; like a choir of ghostly and ghastly unbelievers gathered to usher in blistering noise.
Felix Kubin retells the Splitter Orchester's stories. He adds swooshes of his trademark quirky acid beats and proto-synth pop irony. Kubin works his magic within the Hörspiel framework he's a grandmaster of. The rough and raw hewn edges of the Splitter Orchester are replaced by not per se happy go lucky easy going tunes, but Kubin does make the palette more readily available to ears accustomed to rather more clean cut popular idioms. No rude awakenings here from the erratic dream like states of side A. Kubin thusly projects a deceptively elegant lull, which belies the same kind of intricacies that undercut the swarms of varied dynamics the Splitter Orchester, radicalizes. A back and forth between both sides of this bloody amazing record brings new interpretations and insights into both modes of working, 'compositions' and styles while also progressively building passageways and bridges between seemingly disparate musical worlds.
- Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg, Vital Weekly -