About Disjecta Membra
Initially better known for their long-standing goth credentials, since the 1990s, Disjecta Membra’s musical horizons have broadened considerably. The New Zealand band’s latest CD offering, The Infancy Gospels EP (November 2016), has been widely praised for its diversity; incorporating elements of spiky post-punk, swampy blues, folk, western, noise rock, synthpop, ambient/drone and traditional Māori influences.
Formed in 1993, Disjecta Membra quickly became known as New Zealand’s frontrunners in the ‘gothic’ genre; a reputation consolidated internationally with the release of the 1997 debut album Achromaticia and its lead single, ‘Cauldron of Cerridwen’ (watch video).
“An accomplished debut, at times showing the influence of Bauhaus and The Banshees. There are many pleasurable moments on this promising first album” – BRV Magazine, UK
“Disjecta Membra may convince cynics that goth has indeed risen again” – The Lamia’s Song, Australia
“Achromaticia is a true masterpiece of the genre” – Gothic World, Italy
“Coveted by collectors even today. Essential album” – Virus G, Spain
“One of those albums often spoken about in hushed whispers (“Yeah, but have you heard...”). And it’s as majestic and moving today as it ever was.” – Six Noises, NZ
“Cauldron Of Cerridwen is undeniably one of the finest tunes nineties gothic rock has to offer. All hail Disjecta Membra!” – Gothic Magazine, Germany
Over the course of an oftentimes chequered past, the band would survive multiple incarnations, with founder Michel Rowland on vocals and guitar the only constant. In the current trio, Rowland is flanked by long-time guitarist Kane Davey, the band’s only other mainstay for the past decade; and bassist Jaz Murphy, who has served intermittently with the group since 1998.
In former times, the oft-noted lineup changes would lead to several long periods of relative silence, particularly in the wake of the unfinished sophomore album, Sybilline Leaves, which was ultimately abandoned in 2000 AD.
Behind the scenes, however, various manifestations of the group continued to evolve and diversify. A smattering of low-key performances between 2001 and 2009, occasionally punctuated by one-off compilation tracks, served as reminders that more was still to come. 2007’s epic reconfiguration of Th’ Dudes’ 1979 new wave/kiwi rock classic, ‘Walking In Light’, remains a highlight of Disjecta Membra’s recorded output from this period.
December 2013 marked the twentieth anniversary of the band’s formation, celebrated by the release of ‘Death by Discothèque’; the first new single since 2007. A scathing pisstake, ‘Death by Discothèque’ was partly an homage to walk-on appearances from The Damned and Motörhead on the anarchic British comedy, The Young Ones.
Backed with an equally tongue-in-cheek remix from electro-industrial giants Leæther Strip, the single would prove the band’s most popular track to date, while gracing the decks of specialist clubs, DJs, radio shows and webcasts in every corner of the globe.
“Michel’s gang are back with more force and charisma than ever. The band seems to have wiped the slate clean and restarted themselves firing on every chord and drum… It’s a sinister and scorching rock’n’roll tune” – Virus G, Spain
“An amazing mix of gothabilly and cybergoth dance – super creative!” – Ivy Silence, Extreme Darkness Radio, Alaska
Following swiftly with tourdates supporting the iconic former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy, the end of 2013 saw a revitalised band clawing their way back from oblivion, to reclaim due recognition for their abiding influence and cult status.
“For Twenty Years, Disjecta Membra have built an enduring reputation as New Zealand’s flagship of Gothic Rock” – Rip It Up, NZ
“Living legends in the New Zealand scene” – Mick Mercer, UK
“One of the most respected names in the gothic rock genre” – Terra Relicta, Slovenia
2014-15 saw Disjecta Membra playing shows with still more of their formative influences, including Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order) and Mick Harvey (The Birthday Party/Bad Seeds), and declining to play with Lydia Lunch. The band meanwhile returned to the studio, made numerous international compilation appearances, and in 2015 released a digital remix EP, followed by the acclaimed radio single ‘Whakataurangi Ake’.
Composed by the Maniapoto tribal elder Pumi Taituha, Disjecta Membra’s treatment of ‘Whakataurangi Ake’ featured instrumentalist Rob Thorne performing taonga pūoro (traditional Māori instruments), and has been described as “hauntingly beautiful” (Cruel Britannia), “deeply soul-stirring” (Six Noises) and “incredibly powerful” (Mike Hollywood). Receiving heavy rotation on Auckland’s 95bFM and RadioActive.fm in Wellington, the single also garnered airplay around the world, most notably in Australia, the US and England.
In November 2016, the band released the limited edition CD, The Infancy Gospels EP, just ahead of New Zealand tourdates supporting UK goth legends The Mission. Originally set for a relatively low-key release, unexpected response to presales led to The Infancy Gospels being sold out within days of its official launch. A second pressing is expected to be available for online ordering in January 2017.
“The Infancy Gospels is DM’s culmination of a continual evolution that has seen the band stretch out across a range of stylistic tangents, always anchored by the commanding baritone of vocalist/guitarist Michel Rowland. This range is wholly evident and on display in this EP, with the band exploring a remarkable amount of territory for such a truncated set.” – Collide Art and Culture, Australia
“I’m a little reluctant to call it goth, or even stick the ubiquitous “deathrock” tag on it, because neither of those labels do the music of Disjecta Membra any justice whatsoever… the Wellington-based masters of the dark arts are keen to expand the band’s palette, and this EP appears to represent a genuine cross-pollination of ideas and genres.” – Everythingsgonegreen, NZ
“The evidently correct cross of New Zealand post-Xpressway noise and the excessively musicianly variety of goth… They have and try to have some stylistic range. This succeeds.” – Rocknerd, UK
“The Infancy Gospels reveals a band in motion, with Disjecta Membra expanding their sound and taking risks on their most diverse recording yet... Twenty-three years and innumerable hurdles later, Disjecta Membra are seeking out fresh artistic challenges, while still creating haunting, original music.” – Six Noises, NZ
At the dawn of 2017, Disjecta Membra are readying for a split-CD release with IKON (Melbourne) and Sounds Like Winter (Sydney), coinciding with the three bands’ New Zealand shows together in Auckland and Wellington over Waitangi Weekend in February. The new nine-track album features three exclusive, previously unreleased tracks apiece from each of the three bands. Tickets to the shows along with advance orders for the commemorative CD are available exclusively from Undertheradar.co.nz.