Splice – lab
(Loop 1013. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Splice’s website, splicelab.com (and make sure you type in the ‘l’; ‘spicelab.com’ turns out to be a horse of an entirely different colour, which you may wish to avoid having in your browsing history, for legal reasons) succinctly identifies the quartet’s musical aims: ‘to mesh together influences of contemporary jazz, free improv, loud and soft noise, punk grit, ambient music, and more … with seamless blends or blunt juxtapositions’.
The band’s personnel – trumpeter/electronics operator Alex Bonney, reedsman Robin Fincker, bass guitarist/electronics operator Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, drummer Dave Smith – all have form in this field of endeavour, particularly Tremblay, who is also a member of noise/free jazz/punk/contemporary music outfit Ars Circa Musicæ and the two-guitar/laptop duo De Type Inconnu, so lab does indeed combine all these musical elements, and – most importantly – it does this with wit, panache and considerable resourcefulness.
Tremblay produces an extraordinary variety of rumblings, subterranean hums and space noises; Smith is equally adept at deep groove timekeeping and free embellishment; Bonney (as anyone who’s experienced his vibrant live playing, particularly his Ayler tribute sets, will attest) is an arresting trumpeter as well as a man skilled in all manner of sound manipulation; Fincker moves easily here (as he does with Smith in Outhouse) between free and more structured playing, on both tenor saxophone and clarinet.
Overall, this is an hour of absorbing musical sound, neatly summed up by Tremblay’s stated ambition: ‘the hybridisation of … various musical influences into a single, coherent poetic language’.