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Between Rock and a Hard Place Splintered's long overdue and mantra-like sixth album takes no prisoners

Between Rock and a Hard Place

Splintered's long overdue and mantra-like sixth album takes no prisoners

by Alan Rider, Contributing Editor
first published: May, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

'Scylla', echoes the snake like peril of that mythological beast, writhing and twisting, with submerged vocals battling with gunshot drums and distorted guitars

LP cpverSplintered
Between Scylla and Charybdis
(Fourth Dimension)
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There are some releases that just stand out as being different, above the herd if you like.  Fourth Dimension has a track record of producing such releases, most recently ATV’s ‘Direct Action’ album, and Bass Communion’s ‘The Itself of Itself’ and it is no co-incidence that head of Fourth Dimension, Richard Johnson, also performs in Splintered, which he formed back in 1990 out of the ashes of his previous group, Playground.  Splintered were, and are, a different proposition to the more post-punk/rock oriented Playground and from the outset sought (in the words of their Widipedia page) “to push the previous band's noise excursions to denser realms” in the mould of Godflesh, Ramleh, Skullflower and other such sonic pioneers.  Although Splintered disbanded in 1997, it was never acrimonious, and between 2021 and 2024 members sporadically worked together on new material, even playing the odd show in London and Poland, before re-animating and bringing out ‘Between Scylla and Charybdis’, their first album since the 1996 collaboration with German musique concrete artist, RLW, and their sixth overall. Whilst I have no doubt some of you may well be classical Greek scholars, for the rest of you, Scylla and Charybdis were two pretty scary and dangerous monsters who lived on opposite sides of what is now the Straits of Messina, and which Odysseus had to navigate in Homers ‘Odyssey’, narrowly escaping their clutches himself, though some of his crew weren’t so lucky. As an idiom it means having to choose between two equally unpalatable alternatives.  Now you know!

Intense and uncompromising, theatrically powerful and mantra like, the album opens with the sound of running water and tortured bass and guitar, echoing the submerged sculptures of the sleeve.  The following track, ‘Scylla’, echoes the snake like peril of that mythological beast, writhing and twisting, with submerged vocals battling with gunshot drums and distorted guitars.  ‘The Horrors of Linden’ chimes and grinds in equal measure, whereas the juddering tribal infused whirlpool of ‘Charybdis’ swirls dense spirals of feedback.  By the time you get to ‘Bell Harry’s Lament’ the die is cast.  Mantra like drones and chimes and mechanistic mangled loops and subterranean vocals in equal measure, its one of my favourites on the album and is really quite hypnotic.  By the time the surprisingly brief ‘Permutation 2:Pillar of Salt’ shimmers into being I do feel in a bit of an altered state, I have to confess.  This is one of those albums that sounds very much better at night, or at least with the blinds drawn, as it simply oozes atmosphere so intense that you can literally slash at it in the air, like smoke. 

Acting as a metaphor for the state of the world, the album title ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ could be translated as being between a rock and a hard place.  Rock this most certainly isn’t, a hard place it most decidedly is, and thankfully, is all the better for it.


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Main image by Onyee Lo

Alan Rider
Contributing Editor

Alan Rider is a Norfolk based writer and electronic musician from Coventry, who splits his time between excavating his own musical past and feeding his growing band of hedgehogs, usually ending up combining the two. Alan also performs in Dark Electronic act Senestra and manages the indie label Adventures in Reality.


about Alan Rider »»

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