morphogenesis discogs resonance

in streams 1

CD in 8 panel digipak

Includes postage - for multiple items I will refund the excess


•   Live at the Spitz (part 1)  (12:44)
•   Live at the Windmill  (22:33)  mp3
•   Charivari remnant  (15:23)
•   Live at the Stadtgarten  (25:46)

total time 76:47

Cover photo by Juliet Singer
Released 2001

This is the fifth CD release by Morphogenesis, and the first since 1998. Although Morphogenesis do not play live very often, it is certainly our preferred working situation, where the interaction between the space, the people present and the available equipment create a variety of different situations. Substantial extracts from nearly all of our recent concerts appear on this, and a second volume. There is also the inclusion of one studio recording per CD. Perhaps one reason for our infrequent appearances is due to the size of the group, which usually varies from between 4 to 6 people all of whom have been working together for 10 - 15 years. This in itself is an unusual situation within experimental music. Another increasingly rare feature in electronic improvisation today is that we have never used laptops or samplers, and although a prerecorded CD was used on the Spitz concert it was scrambled through a varispeed DJ CD player. Prerecorded analogue tape is also used by manually inching the tape past the playback head. All other instrumentation (amplified objects, piano, biofeedback, water machine, percussion etc) is played and processed live. This release comes in an 8 page digipak. Volume 2 is likewise, and the total playing time of both volumes is just under 2 and a half hours.

ADAM BOHMAN - prepared violin, balalaika, objects
RON BRIEFEL - vocals, varispeed CD player, electronics
CLIVE GRAHAM - springs, Uher tape machine, autoharp, electronics
CLIVE HALL - piano, objects, electronics
MICHAEL PRIME - water machine, biofeedb
ack, radio, electronics
ROGER SUTHERLAND (RIP) - percussion, piano


Morphogenesis produce music that has few (if any) points of reference to other music. All of it is totally improvised yet it is unlike most music labelled as 'improv'. The music is largely created using live electronics but this is not an electronic band. Indeed, it is the other instruments that Morphogenesis use that make them sound unique. Although no instrumentation is listed for this CD, the Morphogenesis website reveals their use of instruments that they have constructed themselves, plus adapted or prepared conventional instruments such as violin, piano or acoustic guitar. They also use sounds that have been filtered to radically alter their tonal properties. These can be environmental sounds such as traffic noise, or small sounds such as bubbling water picked up using contact microphones. When other elements are included, such as snatches of speech from radios and a bioactivity translator that translates biological rhythms (of plants, fungi, humans) into electronic sound, it is virtually impossible to identify individual components in this unique soundscape. I am tempted to cite the more experimental side of Pink Floyd (circa Ummagumma) as a reference point, but instantly disclaim responsibility to Floyd fans who buy this CD solely on that basis. Also, that comparison seriously undersells Morphogenesis. They produce the broader, richer, weirder music. Live, Morphogenesis can resemble mad scientists amok in a lab of their own making. The means of production of their sounds is fascinating to watch. However, unlike many improv recordings that are pale imitations of the live experience, this one stands in its own right. It features four pieces, three recorded live and one in their North London home studio, the last being a remnant from their 1996 album Charivari music. All the music was recorded direct to stereo. To listen to it is to be taken on a sonic journey that invites the use of metaphors of intergalactic travel and the like. Awesome. (John Eyles)

The last Morphogenesis album dated from 1998. It was time the best live electronics group settled the score with not one, but two new CDs. In Streams, Vol. 1: 1996-1999 contains excerpts of Morphogenesis' rare live performances. plus one studio track (In Streams Vol. 2 works the same way). Adam Bohman, Ron Briefel, Clive Graham, Clive Hall and Michael Prime all interact through analog electronics and electrified objects: no laptops, no samplers. Prime also uses his water machine and bio-feedback. Roger Sutherland joins them on the studio track. After so many years together, this outfit still produces the texturally deepest, most engaging, most surprising electronically-based free improvisation. The synergy and sense of combination they share is what makes the 22 minute 'Live at the Windmill' feel like a journey inside and outside one's conscience. Forget the sterile bleeps the laptop generation of musicians produce: this music is chaotically organic. 'Charivari Remnant' lacks variety when compared to the other pieces, but overall In Streams, Vol. 1 fills a gap in the ensemble's career. Fans will appreciate; newcomers might find it a revelation. Strongly recommended. (François Couture)

I guess it was inevitable that Clive Graham (the youngest and newest member of the band) would end up with the job of compiling the Morphogenesis archive, as everyone else in the band seems too involved in other projects - or, is it that Clive (as the fan that later joined the band) is the only one committed enough? VOLUME 1 is strange in that it doesn't feature Roger Sutherland much, and he's often considered as the band's figurehead. But, that's Morphogenesis for you, as the name suggests, the band and the music is something of constant change and rebirth. The range of styles here is not so much the familiar Morphogenesis either, as some parts are much more dark and industrial sounding than what one normally associates with Morphogenesis, and some other parts are even vaguely melodic (something I've never heard in Morphogenesis before), contrasting with the more cataclysmic texts one expects. There's also a lot in the way of previously unheard textures and ideas. It's difficult to be more specific without going into great detail, or getting into clichˇs or comparisons. I'll just tell you - it's vivid, atonal but focused, and a fascinating listen for anyone into the weirder realms of electronic sound. (Alan Freeman)

AURAL INNOVATIONS #18 (January 2002)
During the 1960s, two different streams of thought in the composition and performance of Electronic Music developed within the Academic Avant-Garde. One emphasized a joining of ideas regarding the incorporation of Aleatory Improvisation, the other more traditionally oriented utilizing precisely placed sonic events. Pursued by bands/composers such as Musica Ellectronica Viva, Groupo Nova Constanza, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Hans Werner Henze, AMM, and in America the work of the LA-based Negative Band, the use of improvisation opened new doors out of the traps of Western Classical composition, but this direction seemed to lose favor during the mid-to-late 1970s. With the rise of so-called "Post Punk", a few Rockers began to follow these directions; Throbbing Gristle (in their case, it may be more inspiration by Hawkwind rather than Stockhausen), Whitehouse and SPK started to work in areas of atonality and improvisation, but these projects were still-born due to the lack of ability on their instruments (i.e. They couldn't play!!!), and their flirtations with Nihilism, Fascist imagery, downright Junior High school shock techniques or thinly-veiled sexual pornography!. They did spawn a series of imitators during the 1980s; calling their work "Industrial", most of this movement were merely untutored losers engaged in using the (then) new 4-track Cassette recorders to engage in Audio masturbations! I became aware of the work of MORPHOGENESIS in 1986, when my group (ALIEN PLANETSCAPES) began to release our tapes on the Sound of Pig Cassette label. Founder Al Margolis gave us a number of recordings of bands he thought worked in similar areas to AP. Some were great, some were trash, but MORPHOGENESIS stood out as working in the area of the aforementioned innovators without the moaning nihilistic BS of so many of the "industrialists!" And by golly, they could actually play well enough to make the music quite challenging! Over the years, there has been a stream of releases, including a noteworthy LP in 1988, ("Prochronisms", on Pogus Records) and a few more Cassette releases followed. More recently come these two CDs, which were released in the UK during 2001, and they give a very high account of the positive progression of the band's music. Adam Bohman, Ron Breifel, Roger Sutherland, and Clive Hall are the main protagonists, and their performances, both live and in studio, unfold with the same beauty as an Olivia Butler novel. The band both creates its own Electronic Music circuits, as well as using Synthesizers, Tapes, found instruments, Transistor radios, a piano frame and various effects devices to conjure up worlds of sound that are elastic, shifting and bending to bring the listener new experiences! Rhythm becomes implied in this musical context, based on the shifting textures rather than performing metric functions, and there is never a "lead" instrument, but the ability to react to the others is what makes the music so successful! The band credits some well-known names in experimental music (Eddie Prevost, Sonic Youth) on some of the live dates, leading me to believe that the band plays a variety of venues to very diverse audiences. (In the UK, venues are often mixed, with many different types of bands appearing together, something that has been lost in the States). Both of these CDs have no dead spots musically, but the music does demand the listener pay close attention, and a little knowledge of the history of Improvisational Electronic Music doesn't hurt. To new initiates to this music, welcome, MORPHOGENESIS is a good place to start. The CDs can be found at various stores that specialize in Avant-Garde Music, or through Wayside. (Doug Walker)

The fifth album by criminally neglected improvising electro-acoustic ensemble Morphogenesis is perhaps their most varied selection of work to date. For those unfamiliar with their work, comparison to the laminal method of improvisation developed by AMM is not inappropriate. Both groups share a keen appreciation of contemporary 'classical' music, evidenced in their instinctive grasp of structure, attack and dynamics during in the process of spontaneous creation. Morph are a larger group than AMM's current triumvirate however, and their soundworld is several shades darker. They take instrument preparation and invention further too - be it Roger Sutherland's amplified springs or Michael Prime's plant bio-feedback machine. At the risk of sounding lazy and opting out of commenting on the music presented here, I could take David Ilic's oft quoted description of AMM discs being 'as alike and unalike as trees' . The remark is perhaps even more apposite and exact in the context of Morphogenesis, whose music, like AMM's not only evolves as naturally and organically as unchecked flora or vegetation, but actually uses organic noises of plant emissions at its heart! Given the darkness and rich detail of Morph's music however, I may wish to add to Ilic's remark '...in a Barbizon school forest-scene painting'. No sounds ever jar or sound out of place, however harsh the apparent juxtaposition - piano chimes float into harsh metallic scrapes and then disappear into bubbling pools of liquid with perfect logic. It is all the more impressive when you stop to consider that their process is invariably live first-take improvising with only minimal post-production tweaks. Rarely can such a risky process lead to such a consistently rewarding end product - perhaps the final comparison to the great AMM that I'll make. I can't resist making one personal observation about the second track though, recorded live at London's 'Windmill' in November 1999. The foregrounding of electronics on this piece stopped me in my tracks with its uncanny similarity to the more abstract editions of Mego's Viennese electronica - a side of Morphogenesis which I hadn't previously heard, though it now seems so obvious when I return to Solarisation. In Streams is simply four more pieces of beautifully recorded and exquisitely presented Morphogenesis music. If you already like their work then you'll have bought this disc already - if you're a newcomer then buy it soon, as it makes a fine point of entry to some of the most timeless improvised music currently being made. (Fred Grand).

Elekt Noiz 6 (translated)
The traditon of British improvised music is so profound that it is very hard to give some examples of who are the most avant-garde artists like AMM, Keith Tippett's Ovary Lodge, Centipede, Incus, London Musicians Collective, etc. Actually, that kind of music is on the avant-garde scene but we could find unity in each sound which is worthy of being called 'British style'.  This CD is gentle and also refreshing - like a rainbow appearing in the sky afterrain. So this is why many people love this 'British Taste'. British group Morphogenesis has definitely got that kind of Biritish manor and also it seems like a haze around their sound. However, Morphogenesis do not play with ordinary instruments. As far as we see Adam Bohman's hand-made instrument (which could have been made out of some rubbish), hand-made electric equipment and other things are shown on the CD cover, there is no rule, high technology and low technology are completely mixed. Each member has their original context and these noises are mixed skillfully. The mixed sounds react on unpredictable harmony but still keep having pretty style like Chemical Garden.
Clive Graham, a member of Paradigm Discs is now one of the most important people who has been introducing the free/experimental music around Britain. This is not only digging up very precious and rare pieces of music (Trevor Wishart, Pauline Oliveros, etc.) and also new concrete artists (Kymatik, Akemi Ishijima, etc). Especially, two Rev.
Dwight Frizzell's CDs and re-releasing CDs of Brast Burn/Karna Khyal who I have never heard before. It is absolutely incredible and we should not ignore what will be the next. (Koji Tano)

The Morphos are one of Britain's best experimental groups, working in an almost indefinable area that embraces elements such as group improvisation, electro-acoustic methods, tapes, radios, home-made instruments, and pure electronic music. Given the high quality of their few releases and live performances, it's surprising we don't hear more from them. But this is largely due to the infrequency with which the group plays in the first place. Their membership is slightly fluid and varies between four to six players, and it's not easy getting everyone to co-ordinate at the same time, especially as they all have other commitments. In the second place, there is a rigorous discipline to the release programme, which is abstemious - there' s a large backlog library of recorded tapes, both studio and live experiments, but not all of these are deemed worthy for public inspection. On this release, for example, there's a remnant from 1996's Charivari project, originally released I think on the Streamline label. Plus three live events from 1997 and 1999. Six very distinct and talented music personalities feed into th' Morpho sound. I should stress that the processes of playing, recording and releasing within the group are quite egalitarian, and (though I once made the mistake of dubbing Michael Prime the 'main man'), there is no star player. Michael Prime of course is notable for his excellent electro-acoustic recordings involving natural phenomena like water, weather and plants. He might be responsible for the group's interest in using 'bio feedback' and the 'water machine'. Roger Sutherland (on one track only here) wrote a definitive book on the history and methods of 20th century music. Adam Bohman is a wonderful English eccentric who released a completely wackoid CD of his hand-held cassette diaries on the Paradigm label - which label happens to be run by Clive Graham, also a member of the Morphs. Each of these sumptuous recordings has a slow-moving grandeur - you get the impression of a gigantic, lumbering (but very dignified) beast, with many limbs, moving slowly from one dark corner of a cave to the other. In our chosen field of music, slow-moving has sometimes been mistaken for non-eventful turgidity. The music of Morphogenesis could never be mistaken for uneventful! The richness of each musical episode reveals itself, gradually, through careful listening - but finally, each of these 'Streams' is brimming with ideas and fascinating sound events, like a stream full of salmon. You have only to lower your aural 'net' and fish in a fine harvest. There is respect in the playing - respect between the musicians, and for the listener. Despite the apparent slowness of everything, the changes that occur are in fact quite dramatic. If you could picture the 22-minute 'Live at the Windmill' track as a geological sample, for example, the seismic shifts in the layers of strata would be astounding. Finally, perhaps it is worth stressing that there isn't a laptop or a sampler anywhere in sight on the Morpho table of instruments; nothing but good old analogue and acoustic equipment. The hands-on approach even extends to the way tapes are used - not simply played, but run manually over the tape-heads, inch by inch. Now that's what I call Morpho! (Ed Pinsent)

The SUNDAY TIMES (15.4.2001)
Live performances by the London experimental music collective Morphogenesis showcase few conventional instruments. Instead, the group are enmeshed amid piles of found objects, and wires trailing out of water tanks, like lab technicians at work on a secret experiment. 'In Streams' comes in a lavish gatefold sleeve that at least shows enough photos of the group in action to give the uninitiated some idea of the sources of these undulating bubbles and squeaks. These days, any bedsit theorist could cook up a superficially not dissimilar sound on a home computer, but Morphogenesis' press release stresses they never use laptops or samplers. 'In Streams' hour or so of elliptical shifts in non-melodic mood is the result of organic collective improvisation, and if you are prepared to make the leap of faith required to trust these determinedly difficult eggheads, you're in for a unique experience. (Stewart Lee)

Since long Morphogenesis belong to my favourite groups of improvising electro-acousticians, with a line up of 4 to 6 people, playing a wide variety of amplified objects (I saw their member Adam Bohman last year in concert playing strings, objects and what have you, and if this is just one Morpho... phew!), piano, biofeedback (by that other active member, Micheal Prime). Seeing those pictures on the cover it must a be crowd, yet over the years and many concerts, Morphogenesis have entered a thoughtfull play of their own. A playing in which there is much space and freedom for every single player. Careful improvising their way, they proof to be good listeners too... And speaking of good listeners, I strongely recommend headphones while playing this CD. There are some beautiful stereo moments captured and also some subtile parts which may be lost while playing it over a set of speakers. One track is a studio piece, but sounds exactly as the live pieces. Great stuff throughout. (Frans de Waard)

The WIRE (May 2001)
Morphogenesis are all too rarely seen or heard, yet their live performances can be impressive events, remarkably open and mobile arrangements of sound that pack a gradual but unstoppable cumulative punch. 'In Streams', their fifth CD contains three live recordings and one studio performance. The group have marked out distinctive territory through improvisation with unconventional sound sources including plants, fungi and a 'water machine', and numerous amplified objects. There's also voice, a piano, a violin, a balalika and a guitar, but usually their sounds are heavily prepared or treated. Morphogenesis don't use samplers or laptops (though some CD's and analogue tape are occasionally fed into the mix) so nearly all the sounds are produced and processed live. Some of the working relationships date back 15 years: a quintet on most of these tracks, they've clearly arrived at very close understandings with one another. Their music (like that of AMM, with whom they are sometimes compared) is hard to describe, arriving as a tense, ever shifting assemblage of sounds. There's an awe inspiring feeling of evolving dynamism to this work as the players listen intently to what's growing up around them. It tirelessly evades any kind of focal point, throwing up its own narratives on the hoof. It may be the 'biofeedback' but the work has a curiously organic feel - the music's movements are evolutionary. Many of the sounds are clear and firm, but against these sounds is a welter of hiss and fuzz. It sounds as though bells are pitched against lawnmowers, waterfalls against arc-welding equipment, glass against glass wool. Stubbornly unfashionable, Morphogenesis continue to steer their jumble-heaped trestle tables into promising new territory. The fierce collective concentration they bring to their improvisation and the sheer breadth of sound that they manage to organise make much of the electronic work floating around right now look monochrome by comparison. (Will Montgomery)

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