Splint! - Moro
George Bass 24/03/2007
Artists who build their output around punctuation usually mean either acts whose tongues and cheeks are forever estranged (Godspeed! You! Black! Emperor!) or films to avoid like the plague (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot), but newcomers Splint! seemingly shrug off the stereotypes with their debut LP Moro. Keen to add their name to the roll call of IDM pioneers extending the classification in all directions, they sign their tracks with snare-drum subtitles and let trumpets, trombones and sax get first dibs on the microphone pecking order. On paper it might sound like an idea up there with rebranding the Post Office, but the end result is as original as it is noble, and at least partially expiates the jazz genre after the satirical wallop it took from The Fast Show's Louis Balfour. Nice.
The eleven pieces that make up the album try to get as far away from each other as possible, and together concoct a mosaic of noises more hooky than Del Boy's swag bag. Bommosytsy is one for the fidgeters; a three-minute migraine of purring jungle and drum machines gone eppy, whereas the more docile Dammas feeds sine wave scribbles into a dawn hum. Whether they're mashing the synth pads or crooning out a jazz ditty, the band give it their all, imbuing their music with a strangely peripheral production that seems to segue with the white noise of your listening environment. The digital mewling of Ittobåt is basement-spooky, and features some of the most skin-creeping feline distortion since the BBC's Ghostwatch broadcast. Anyone who can listen to it in the dark is officially a doublehard bastard. Fooj, on the other hand, gives delicate trumpets the head start in a light mix of guitars, electronics and wafer-thin production, creating a tune that goes better with your morning routine than that first cup of splosh.
Surprisingly, the sound effects and jazz elements that provide the genome for Moro coalesce neatly, and more often than not when the coin is flipped it lands on its edge rather than plain old heads or tails. Angublans rattles with what sounds like someone hoovering up the Clangers (you can even hear the Froglets cluck excitedly in the background), and Tannin provides one of the album's more tuneful moments as corrupt melodic glitch is sloshed round in a conical flask. These both play second fiddle in the tempo championships to the lively but ultimately directionless Sandyn, whose whirling Meccano samba is as restless and virulent as a scrapie contagion. It goes to show how the band really put their hand in when it comes to as many different approaches to songwriting as they can muster; in fact, the only real thing the compositions all have in common is an underlying noirish menace, like Nathan Johnson's swingingly squeamish Brick soundtrack. The tension doesn't germinate in quite such a linear way, but it's up to you whether or not that's a good or a bad thing.
The quirky nature of their style means you might get seasick if you try to strip each track down to its components, but on the whole Splint! fairly martial the little pockets of racket they serve up over the course of the record. Their signature sound might be a bit shaky at times ‐ sort of Guy Fawkes post-interrogation ‐ and, as with many albums skulking in the more obscure wings of the IDM labyrinth, the more churlish listeners won't hear much past the skittery stampede of smoky breakbeat. But if you approach the thing in its entirety you can feel the pull of the music's current, as well as the hours of brainstorming they've tried to refine into their fifty-two minute showreel. Moro is a frenetic discourse of jazz gone wonky, and certainly an interesting shot in the arm for an ailing musical caste.