The Ensemble perform using microtonally tuned metal rod instruments designed and built by Tim Catlin.
Dubbed the “Vibrissa”, after feline tactile hair follicles (whiskers), these instruments are longitudinally stroked by hand and produce an ethereal, haunting sound. The long sustaining nature of the rods sound and close interval tunings allow players a sonic palette of vibrant textures and harmonic complexity. Microtonal rod tunings allow the group to explore and manipulate acoustic phenomena such as phasing, difference and beat tones, sympathetic vibrations and room resonance. The overall effect is of a shimmering sound field full of internal movement, strange harmonies and complex overtone patterns. (Although the vibrissa sound electronic, their sounds are acoustically generated.) These rod sounds are complemented with bowed metal, acoustic guitars, wineglasses, handbells, quarter-tone bells, long wire instruments and re-tuned glockenspiels.
Catlin formed The Overtone Ensemble in 2012. The original lineup was Tim Catlin, Dave Brown, Atticus Bastow and Ceallaigh Norman. In mid-2013 Ceallaigh moved back to New Zealand and Philip Brophy joined the Ensemble. The group have been well received at festivals such as Slow Music, NOW now, Sound Out, Light in Winter and Liquid Architecture as well as various galleries and clubs.