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Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band EDM Avant-garde


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"Review of The Watchmaker"

Seattle based producer and driving force behind Woodson Lateral Records, Ben Torrence follows up his 2005
debut Metal Petals with a finely tuned exposition on the watchmaker’s art. Torrence presents time as a series
of interlocking parts, maintaining momentum, never slipping from its preordained intricacies. Flywheels and
gears mesh finely together on “Winding Up”, “The Keyless Works” is the breathless anticipation of time passing,
while “Eszence” is a frozent moment of high-frequency oscillation and “Telescoping” runs backwards and
forwards simultaneously: all of them minimalist miracles that you won’t mind taking up your day.
-Ken Hollings - The Wire

"Review of The Watchmaker"

4/4 Stars
Rarely has a genre name been as snicker-worthy and inaccurate as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). But the
moniker’s stuck, for better or for worse (mostly worse). Over the last decade, it’s come to define a type of electronic
music made mainly by and for the geekiest of the laptop-jockeying spectrum. Broadly speaking, IDM is
marked by its undanceable rhythmic complexity, search for unusual tones, and penchant for distinctive, often
unsettling atmospheres. It’s not an insult to say that Seattle producer Splinters (AKA Ben Torrence, also in the
duo Bookmobile) creates music that falls into this nebulous category; he’s proved himself to be one of our most
accomplished and distinctive sound sculptors.
Splinters’ 2005 debut disc, Metal Petals, established him as one of America’s foremost sonic miniaturists. On
that disc, Splinters flashed his keen ability to craft touching, pensive melodies and to arrange minuscule, beguiling
sounds you, sadly, never hear on the radio. On his stellar follow-up, The Watchmaker, Splinters expands
his aural vocabulary, flaunting more daring, intricate rhythms and conjuring more bizarre textures. (Check the
oddly spasmodic “Carwarsh” and “Rumspringa,” plus the shimmery pulsations and gunned-engine vrooms of
“Eszence” for striking evidence.) On “Rasterized,” Splinters forges a tribute to Raster-Noton by emulating that
awesome German label’s molecular tonal swells and metronomic ratcheting. In the process, the disciple becomes
the guru.
Throughout this well-wrought album, Splinters combines a scientist’s acute ear for unconventional sounds with
a mischief-maker’s knack for absurd timbres. With The Watchmaker, it’s clear that Torrence’s time has come.
-Dave Segal - The Stranger

"Bug Out to Splinters' In the Footsteps of Insects"

Seattle producer Splinters (Ben Torrence, currently living in Madison, Wisconsin, but planning to return here next August) is offering his new album, In the Footsteps of Insects, for free download here (though you can pay the man whatever you wish, if you so desire).

The third full-length by Splinters, the 16-track work finds Torrence honing his immaculately crafted IDM into compact pieces that are oddly funky and sweetly tuneful without being precious. The sound falls somewhere between Raster-Noton's scrupulously minimal abstractions and the Oval/Kreidler/To Rococo Rot axis of introverted melodiousness.

Torrence accurately describes In the Footstep of Insects as "a bug-themed affair full of crickety clicks, chirps, & buzzes, tech-hop-ish beetle hoe-downs, Summery melodic Dragonfly hums, and dubby techno crawlers." It's quirky without being gimmicky, full of fascinating details without seeming absurdly micromanaged. Once you get to know it, it's a real charmer.

Torrence—who plays in Bookmobile and the Lunch Buddy Program—is also offering his previous Splinters releases, Out of Elements, Metal Petals, The Watchmaker, and Arc EP, for free download. They're all worth exploring.

-Dave Segal - The Stranger / Line Out

"Review of The Watchmaker"

Seattle-based Ben Torrence (aka Splinters) convincingly threads The Watchmaker’s timepiece theme throughout
the album’s 16 electronic cuts. As meticulously constructed as the custom pocket watch gracing its front and
back covers, the Woodson Lateral head’s microsound-infused, minimal techno second collection teems with
all manner of tiny metronomic clicks and ticks. Though there’s an obsessive focus on textured sound design,
Torrence’s material never loses sight of musicality as simple yet engaging melodies, propulsive rhythms, finelywrought
textures, and intricate arrangements are integrated throughout (he has a sense of humour too, as evidenced
by the minute’s worth of ticks that constitute “Intermission”). Though there’s no modicum of examples,
“Rasterized,” “Nervous Tic,” and “Second Hand” impress for their textural richness, sing-song melodies, and
creaking rhythms. The jaunty “Upholstery” and buoyantly swinging “Stepped Back” are endearing too; interestingly,
their skeletal arrangements and seeming incorporations of found sounds render them close cousins to
Ezekiel Honig’s Scattered Practices. Ever faithful to its concept (the album begins with “Winding Up” and ends
with “Winding Down”), Splinters’ hour-long The Watchmaker clocks in as an exquisitely sculpted collection of
electronic mood music. - Textura

"Bruno Pronsato & Splinters"

2005 looks like it’s going to be what historians call a “watershed” year for Seattle producers Bruno Pronsato
(Steven Ford) and Splinters (Ben Torrence). Both artists have played several shows this year worth archiving on
your hard drives (Torrence with bandmate Victor Couto in the delectable Bookmobile, Pronsato solo). And both
have releases out this month that should spread their names to electronic-music epicures worldwide. To give this
article the neat link all columnists hope their stories possess, Torrence plays drums on Pronsato’s latest demo
EP, which has drawn serious interest from touted French and German labels. [The 12” was eventually released
on French Label Telegraph. –BT]
Splinters’ album, Metal Petals (out April 19 on Torrence’s Woodson Lateral imprint), delves into the sleekly
contoured, chilled, minimal electronica often heard on distinguished labels like 12k, Raster-Noton, and Mille
Plateaux. While Torrence may look like the kind of guy who could bench-press your car, he’s actually a skilled
studio craftsman who forges delicately gorgeous melodies, pastel textures that don’t cloy, and beats that subtly
trigger graceful body movements. Torrence--who’s been making a diverse range of music in numerous projects
for 12 years--combines an aesthete’s grasp of understated beauty and tranquil atmospheres with a sound
scientist’s scrupulous attention to tonal minutiae. The result is music that gets computer-science students moist
while maintaining a sensuality that appeals to people who don’t dream about coding. As a bonus, Splinters got
the funk like Frank Bretschneider (AKA Komet, co-owner of Raster-Noton). If I ever get my urban ass to the
Cascades, I’ll take along Metal Petals for sonic inspiration.
-Dave Segal - The Stranger


As Splinters:
2010 Capsule series vol.1 (of 6) EP [in progress]
2009 In the Footsteps of Insects Digital Full-length
2009 V/A - Ball of Wax 18 CD
2009 Arc Digital EP
2008 V/A - Music For the Williamson Tunnels 2xCD (UK)
2008 V/A - Happy Aua comp. CD (GE)
2007 V/A - Cumulous CD
2006 The Watchmaker CD
2005 Metal Petals CD
2001 Out of Elements CD-R/Digital Reissue

As one half of Bookmobile:
2010 Cosmeceutical EP in progress
2008 V/A - Cumulous
2008 Boopanschwing CD (split w/ Zapan)
2006 V/A - Music For Children vol.1 CD
2004 Keys CD

In Lamplighter:
2003 A Three Point Perspective CD
2003V/A - Copper Press vol.13 CD
V/A - Mass Transit CD



Seattle native who grew up on skateboarding and punk rock, absorbed in music creation by his late teens. After years of performing in various bands as a drummer, guitarist, or bass player, he began to explore the possibilities of sound and song creation using computers and software.

Ben's work has been featured on NPR's Morning addition, in Surf videos, and video games. His albums have charted well on college radio in the US and Canada, as well as getting plays on stations in Turkey, Mexico, Europe and Japan.

Now in his late 30's with a substantial catalog as an artist, label [Woodson Lateral] and producer, Splinters is at long last flowering as a serious live project. He's played a select few live appearances in recent years, including dates in Berlin and Wisconsin.