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.
“For twenty years, Disjecta Membra have built an enduring reputation as New Zealand’s flagship of gothic rock.” – Nick Bollinger, Rip It Up (NZ)
“Living legends in the New Zealand scene” – Mick Mercer (UK)
“Michel’s gang is back definitely and 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, as “Death by Discothèque (single edit)” clearly demonstrates. It’s a sinister and scorching rock’n’roll tune…” – Billyphobia, Virus G (Spain)
“One of the most respected names in the gothic rock genre” – Terra Relicta (Slovenia)
Amid growing recognition for the band’s lasting impact and cult standing, an expanded digital re-issue of ‘Achromaticia’ (by now long out of print and increasingly sought-after) was met with similarly widespread praise. At a chance meeting in Auckland, Michel was also reunited with the album’s producer, Dave Lowndes.
In March 2014 Disjecta Membra returned to studio work on new material, appearing live only once in support of Melbourne anarcho-punk/deathrock band, Masses. Meanwhile, remixes of ‘Death by Discothèque’ surfaced from South African goth-rockers Ankst and long-running UK post-punk/industrial outfit Attrition (Martin Bowes). Each appeared exclusively on the various-artist compilations ‘This Is Gothic Rock Vol. I’ and ‘Cage 21’, respectively, as the single went on to grace the decks of just about every prominent deathrock, post-punk, goth (etc) DJ, radio show or specialty club around the world. Coupled with a resurgence of interest in licensing the band’s earlier work, one week alone in mid 2014 saw the release of three international compilations featuring Disjecta Membra.
Live dates for 2015 included shows with Peter Hook & The Light and an especially well-received spot opening for Mick Harvey & The Intoxicated Men. 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. 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.
With Dave Lowndes, the band released the definitive ‘Death by Discothèque’ EP in July, also featuring remixes from The Mercy Cage, Sine Division and Non Op Trans. In October, Bryan Tabuteau’s exclusive mix 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, albeit with the door to future involvement ajar. 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.
“Disjecta Membra have made a lot of dark, dramatic and haunting music, but the band’s 2015 rendition of the waiata “Whakataurangi Ake” was their most moving work yet. The band was joined on the song by Rob Thorne, who played traditional Māori instruments on one of the most beautiful and deeply soul-stirring tracks I’ve heard in years.” – Craig Hayes, Six Noises (NZ)
“It feels like something of a major departure from what we’d usually expect from Disjecta Membra. But clearly it’s very personal, and the real beauty here lies in its intimacy.” – Mike Hollywood, Everything’s Gone Green / NZ Musician (NZ)
“Hauntingly beautiful” – Cruel Britannia (UK)
As of 2016, Disjecta Membra revolves around the nucleus of Michel Rowland (vocals, guitar, misc), Kane Davey (guitars, vocals) and Jaz Murphy (bass), with occasional collaborators old and new. The group remains primarily focused on recording and post-production with Bryan Tabuteau of Molière Recording, and long-time producer Dave Lowndes.
Kane Davey, formerly lead member of Serenna (2003-09), has been a permanent feature of Disjecta Membra since 2007, and remains one half of Distorture, alongside Jason Just. Jaz Murphy has served intermittently with Disjecta Membra since 1998, most recently on last year’s ‘Death by Discothèque’ EP, and is also known for his work with Jordan Reyne/Dr. Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine.