Part III: Restoration


December 2013 marked Disjecta Membra’s twentieth anniversary and the band’s unequivocal return from hiatus, with the first new single since 2007, ‘Death by Discothèque (single edit)’.  Backed with a stomping remix from Denmark’s Leæther Strip, the single appeared ahead of New Zealand tourdates supporting former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy.  After years in creative exile, the restoration of Disjecta Membra was to prove a small but veritable triumph. 

In March 2014 Disjecta Membra returned to studio work on new material, while remixes of ‘Death by Discothèque’ surfaced from South African goth-rockers Ankst and long-running UK post-punk/industrial outfit Attrition (Martin Bowes), as the single went on to grace the decks of just about every prominent post-punk, deathrock, goth (etc) DJ, radio show or specialty club around the world.  A resurgence of interest in the band's earlier output meanwhile led to a number of compilation appearances, and something of a critical reappraisal for the ‘Achromaticia’ album.

The regular live troupe from 2013-15 consisted of Michel (vocals, guitar, programming), Kane Davey (guitar, vocals), Matthew Tāmati Scott (guitar, keys, vocals), Isobel Te Aho-White (bass, vocals, percussion) and Dan Smart (drums, sampling, percussion), with further recorded input from Jaz Murphy, Viv Stewart, Raymond Ross, Jason Just and Russell Dench.  Live dates included shows with Masses (Aus), Peter Hook & The Light and Mick Harvey & The Intoxicated Men, the latter being a highlight.  In the interim, work and travel opportunities led to Dan Smart’s departure from New Zealand in early 2015, with the unshakable Deus ex Machina stepping back into the breach. 

Reunited with original producer Dave Lowndes, the band released the definitive ‘Death by Discothèque’ (remixes) EP in July, also featuring remixes from The Mercy CageSine Division and Non Op Trans.  In October, Bryan Tabuteau’s remix of the synthpop-inflected ‘Madeleine! Madelaine!’ appeared on the popular ‘For The Bats Volume III’ fundraiser compilation.  Like the previous single, ‘Madeleine! Madelaine! (Molière Mix)’ enjoyed heavy rotation from specialist DJs, radio shows and webcasts in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Europe, both North and South America, and even in the Kingdom of Bahrain. 

Matthew and Izzy left the band in November of the same year to pursue other projects, which saw the return of Jaz Murphy to the fold as fulltime bassist.  December brought with it the radio single ‘Whakataurangi Ake’, featuring critically acclaimed taonga pūoro instrumentalist Rob Thorne.  The waiata (traditional Māori song) was composed by Maniapoto tribal elder Charles Tauhou ‘Pumi’ Taituha (1930-1993), and was recorded and released by arrangement with Pumi’s granddaughter, Jaqui Taituha.  Matthew provided the various layers of synth and keyboard textures, while Isobel’s artwork adorned the accompanying booklet. 

In early 2016 Michel, Kane and Jaz went back to developing and recording new material, and in July made their first appearance as a trio at an Imbolc-themed event (S. Hemisphere) alongside Dreams are Like Water, Hex, Tortures (Aus) and AMY_cin; opening with the newly penned 14-minute ‘Far from the Chant of a Murmuring Sun’.

In November, ‘The Infancy Gospels’ EP was released, recorded with Bryan Tabuteau of Molière Recording the previous year.  Initially intended as a promo-sampler to showcase the group’s stylistic range, following Matthew and Izzy’s departure the collection was released as a permanent document of the previous line-up.  Widely praised for its diversity and progression, as Disjecta Membra's first physical CD release in some years, copies of ‘The Infancy Gospels’ sold out less than a week from the official launch date.  

At the same time, the streamlined trio embarked as local support on the New Zealand homestretch of The Mission's 30th Anniversary World Tour.  

Three months later, in February 2017, Disjecta Membra appeared with Australian bands IKON (Melbourne) and Sounds Like Winter (Sydney) on the three-way split-release CD, ‘Songs to Scattered Symbols’, released to coincide with triple-headline shows together in Wellington and Auckland over Waitangi Weekend.  Each band contributed three previously unreleased tracks apiece to the album, which included Disjecta Membra’s reworking of the IKON song, ‘Subversion’, and a popular cover of the Boney M. Euro-disco hit, ‘Rasputin’.

In June 2017, Kane Davey celebrated his tenth consecutive year as a permanent member of the group.  Writing and recording continued, only occasionally interrupted by intimate, semi-acoustic performances via live broadcast or private functions, where some of the new songs were given a test drive.  Rosebud Garland of Dreams are Like Water also made intermittent contributions as live keyboardist, and added guest vocals to studio recordings (having earlier appeared in the chorus line to ‘Rasputin’). 

As ethereal/goth/dreampop trio Dreams are Like Water, Rosebud, Michel and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Scott Palmer discretely released their debut EP, ‘A Sea-Spell’ in August 2017, to unexpected rave reviews and label offers.

Late 2017 saw Disjecta Membra preparing a special Twentieth Anniversary Edition re-issue of the 1997 debut, ‘Achromaticia’.  The collection included the original album, two bonus discs of rarities from the band's formative years (1994-97), and a fourth album-length download of material from the same period; packaged in an eight-panel card wallet and accompanied by a 12-page booklet.  Fans took to sharing photos of the deluxe 3-CD package on social media, often with increasingly elaborate staging. 

In February 2018 a free download remix EP of the fan favourite ‘Madeleine! Madelaine!’ was released, with the title track receiving overhauls and reconstructions from Andee Blacksugar (KMFDM, Peter Murphy, Black Sugar Transmission), post-punk/wave/gaze hybrid Delphine Coma (USA), synthwave/spacewave project Bzzrkr (New Zealand), and Rich Witherspoon (Tempest Xii, of US goth rock stalwarts The Wake and ethereal duo Hamsas Xiii).

2018 meanwhile marks the 25th anniversary of Disjecta Membra's formation, and twenty years since Jaz Murphy first joined the group in 1998.