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morphogenesis discogs resonance

Morph

bookings and contact - paradigm(at)stalk.net

 

ADAM BOHMAN
Prepared violin, balalika and objects

RON BRIEFEL
Vocals and electronics
CLIVE GRAHAM
Springboard, tapes and electronics
CLIVE HALL
Piano and electronics
MICHAEL PRIME
Bio-feedback, water machine and electronics
ROGER SUTHERLAND (RIP)
Percussion and piano

 

roger fashion st3
klinker klinker2
fashion st 2 roger 1
fashion st adam
mike and clive g ron
clive g clive h 2

Morphogenesis started recording in January 1985, and our first public performance was at the West Square Festival in London in July '85. The group was formed by a group of people interested in exploring the possibilities of live electronic music and collective improvisation. Our preferred choice is to work in a live situation where the clash of different performance spaces, available equipment and general atmosphere creates a more diverse music. The members of the group come from a wide range of musical backgrounds and have worked in a variety of musical activities outside of the group. Ron taught music technology at Morley College for 20 years an was responsible for our early studio recordings, Adam has run several clubs i London, Roger wrote a book (New Perspectives in Music), and numerous articles on new music, and we have all played in a variety of other groups ranging from Roger's involvement in Cornelius Cardew's Scratch Orchestra in the 60's, to Clive G's studio work with Nurse With Wound in the 80's and Mike's live and recorded work with Organum in the 90's. Adam is the most active member of the group and works in different musical and theatrical situations including his recent activities as one half of the Bohman Brothers. Additionally, Adam and Mike are both engaged in solo music production. Clive G. and Mike both have their own CD labels (Paradigm Discs and Mycophile respectively), and Clive G. also had a regular 2 hour show on Resonance FM each week which ran for 4 years (the playlists for Sound Poets Exposed are included on this web site).

The groups aim is to unify and integrate many diverse sound elements, (electronic, vocal, instrumental and environmental) within a context of continual evolution and group dialogue. We construct some of our own instruments in addition to using adapted or prepared conventional instruments - usually violin, piano and acoustic guitar. The range of sounds are further extended by means of filtering and other forms of signal processing. Contact microphones are used to amplify the sounds of bubbling water and other small sounds. All these accoustic sounds are enhanced by electronic filtering etc. One electronic instrument we use is a bioactivity translator which is used to measure the voltage potential of living organisms - including plants, fungi, and the human nervous system - and translate the biological rhythms into electronic sound. Other electronic instruments include a 4 speed portable reel to reel tape recorder and a multi speed CD player, both of which are used to work with short sound samples. We do not use laptops or pre-recorded material for playback.

Concert appearances include 2 concerts in Brussels, a WDR recording at the Stadtgarten in Cologne and numerous London concerts, including performances at the LMC festival, The Spitz, The Royal Festival Hall foyer, the Air Gallery and in July 2000 we supported Sonic Youth at the Shepherds Bush Empire. In 2003 we played at the Podewil in Berlin and at Instants Chavirés in Paris. More recently we played at Colour Out Of Space 2009 in Brighton, UK. Kraak festival in Belgium in 2010 and the LAFMS Lowest Form Of Music festival in London also 2010.

Interviews have appeared in EST, Resonance, Audion and Avant, while feature articles have appeared in The Wire and The London Magazine. An online article appeared in March 2005 at Perfect Sound Forever


Epiphanies - The Wire - Stewart Lee

How Morphogenesis popped Stewart Lee's avant-phobia

In the early 90s multi-instrumentalist Mike Cosgrave was my flatmate in a shared post-student house in Tooting, South London. Today Mike has just released his third album, Deepwater Dropoff, with Celtic folk fusion group Sin è. Early line-ups of the group used to rehearse in our spare room, drowning out afternoon editions of Countdown as the rest of us sat downstairs wondering what to do with our lives. Sin è might have been closest to Mike's heart, but the part time metallurgist and would-be musician couldn't afford to be choosy. At one time Devon born Mike was simultaneously the least South American member of salsa group Asi Y Asa, the most conspicuously non-African contributor to Love Isaacs's Maha, and the token gentile guitarist in comedian Jim Tavares's Jewish Heavy Metal group Guns 'N' Moses. Thus it was with little excitement that I arrived at the China Pig jazz club, upstairs over an East London pub, on a bleak November night, to watch Mike sit in on guitar with something called Morphogenesis, the free music group of a bloke called Clive Hall who Mike had met in a jazz piano evening class at Morley College. "Come along," he said, "I don't know what it will be like but you might get something out of it."
"So, this is what a jazz gig is like," I thought to myself contemptuously, ascending into a dreary upstairs room where a dozen or so solitary men nursed drinks in silent anticipation. Though one of them was conspicuously and copiously facially pierced, I couldn't imagine myself bumping into any of these people at the bar of any of my usual indie rock haunts. Then the strangeness started to set in, as I became aware that the cluster of discarded rubbish and dishevelled lab apparatus set up in the corner of the room wasn't just a pile of junk waiting to be taken away in a skip, but actually the group's gear. Mike's guitar was laid flat on a table, robbed of any phallic posing power, and surrounded by matches and tiny bits of metal. Other surfaces ominously harboured a radio, some elastic bands strung over a kind of abacus, what looked like a hydrophonic gardening system, a miniature fishtank full of water, and a collection of children's toys, ironmongery and balloons. They were going to play this stuff? I'd seen Sonic Youth and The Dream Syndicate scratch at their guitars with screwdrivers and vibrators; I even owned a Fred Frith/Lol Coxhill duets album, though I rarely listened to it while sober. In all, I considered myself a broadminded man, but this was clearly something else altogether. And I already didn't like it.
Then Morphogenesis, and my poor misguided friend Mike, moved out of the gloom to take their places: a half a dozen or so shady individuals who looked like they should have been manning a Baader-Meinhof Group terrorist cell, or else researching the growth of unusual moulds in an underground room somewhere. What followed was not music or entertainment as I understood it, but an undulating, formless wash of drones, clicks and bubbles, that resisted all formal development and didn't even allow any room for a solo on those carefully arranged elastic bands. There sat Mike, a man who could pick up any tune instantly and play it back to you note perfect, reduced to dropping matches onto his frets in absurd concentration, while a man stood behind him making irritating squeaking noises by rubbing a partially deflated pink balloon And when the balloon promptly burst in his hands, he reacted only with a smug expression which suggested the object's implosion was not actually a mistake, but part of a far greater artistic whole which I would never be able to understand. After 45 minutes or so the sounds mercifully subsided, and I hurried downstairs to get a drink, barely able to suppress my laughter at the most pretentious and pointless display I had ever witnessed.
Then in the crowded pub, something happened, as though a switch had been thrown in my brain. The sounds of pints of lager pouring from taps became raging torrents, background conversation suddenly seemed a meaningless babble of formless noise, and the deafening rattle of the loose change in my hand as I went to pay the barman so stunned me that I felt I could barely lift my glass. Exposure to Morphogenesis seemed to have altered the way I processed sound information, reducing words to gibberish and investing random elements of the general hubbub with a peculiar and disorientating significance. If someone had asked me a question, I'm not sure I would have remembered how to speak. Going back up the stairs for the second half, the sounds of my own footsteps on the floorboards were terrifyingly enormous, and I settled into a seat not a little shaken by the experience. When Morphogenesis lurched into life once more, everything was somehow different. The music became one with the sounds of buses rumbling along the road outside, and in the quieter moments, the minute noises made by the pub cat jumping from one creaking chair to another seemed inexplicably complicitous in the whole experience, as if the group had somehow punctured the mental filter that separates sense from the senseless. Outside I raved about the gig to Mike so vociferously I think he assumed I was being sarcastic.
I've seen Morphogenesis and its various members in different combinations a few times since, though Mike was never invited to play with them again, and I own a couple of CDs and a vinyl copy of their 1989 debut Prochronisms. But nothing has ever equalled the power of my first experience of the group. Going to see them at London Musicians' Collective and ICA shows opened up a whole world of music that I would previously have dismissed out of hand. And though I now realise Morphogenesis aren't such an incredible maverick one-off, being part of a tradition you can trace back via AMM to John Cage, I think they purged me of a natural suspicion of the avant garde in all its forms, though this has led me down as many blind alleys as it has taken me to treasured places. My all time top 100 albums would still be mainly a predictable checklist of classic leftfield rock, but sometimes I find myself curiously engaged and thrilled by the sound of engines, generators, rushing water or even my own heartbeat, and I'm suddenly back on the staircase of the China Pig, caught somewhere between feeling conned and feeling converted.

CD's
Solarisation (Streamline 1006) 1994
Charivari music (Paradigm Discs PD 02) 1996
Formative causation (Mycophile SPOR 02) 1997
Stromatolites (Vintage electronic records VER 01) 1998
In streams Volume 1 (Paradigm Discs PD 16) 2001
In streams Volume 2 (Paradigm Discs PD 17) 2001
"Escape from the unseen cracks" from At Close Quarters (These 7) 1993


LP's
Prochronisms (Pogus 201-2) 1989
"Sound from the rock" from No Borders (Generation Unlimited GULP 01) 1990