Not since the glory days of Keith Tippett's Centipede amalgamation have we seen the likes of this on the improv circuit. The Splitter Orchester comprises no less than 19 performers from all across the categorical axis, while the Pitch are an 'adjunct' quartet who are effectively 'split off' from Splitter. The collaboration between the two entities seems more metaphoric than literal, a formalized merging of sense and sensibility, which renders the whole thing really a full-on Splitter date, the third one for the enigmatic and sprawling ensemble.
Ah, but if things could be so simple. Over the course of a precise hour, timed and executed with mathematical precision, the collective essentially inhabit the inner workings of a massive, oscillating drone. Realized with a combination of both chamber music instrumentation and contemporary electronics (not to mention the odd 'object' or two, as is de rigueur in such settings), the Orchester make a mighty fine noise, a subtle though constant tectonic shifting of drone that splices together its own endlessly evolving harmonics to yield a panoply of pure, ravishing texture. Frozen, as the album is nicked and the sonic interplay demonstrates, is an apt title for this work. According to the Mikroton site, "The score guides the group through various defined states of frozen surfaces where each player makes individual choices from a set of intervals or noises and thus constantly shifts harmonic weight and textural quality." Thus, Boris Baltschun's electric pump organ and Ignaz Schick's multitudinous electronics shimmer in (ostensibly) elliptical orbits, while Andrea Neumann and Simon James Phillips's occasional piano strikes can be heard punching holes through the diaphanous sphere of drone. But to single out the merits and contributions of individual members is foolhardy, running counter to the whole enterprise; the Orchester moves as a single-celled organism.
Frozen Orchestra is not without precedent: an argument could be made that the teeming wall of sound erected here recalls Rhys Chatham's similarly expansive (if more corrosive) many-limbed guitar extravaganzas; similarly, the pointillistic minimal confines of La Monte Young are referenced accordingly, though Young could only have dreamt of fomenting a music requiring such idea-istic and bold largesse. One-dimensional, however, this isn't — what emerges between the cracks of Frozen Orchestra is every bit as stimulating as its prismatic surface.
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