morphogenesis discogs resonance

in streams 2

CD in 8 panel digipak

Includes postage - for multiple items I will refund the excess


•   24 track analogue  (23:41)
•   Live at the Spitz (part 2)  (19:00)
•   Live at the Red Rose  (3:24)
•   Live at the Shepherds Bush Empire  (25:33)  mp3

total time  71:58

Cover photo by Juliet Singer
Released 2001

Morphogenesis started recording in January 1985 and this is our sixth CD release, coming 3 months after the release of Volume 1. Like Volume 1, this CD also contains excerpts from 3 concerts (all in London this time) and a studio piece. Morphogenesis play a few concerts a year, almost always in London. In fact we have only ever played outside the UK twice. Concerts have always yielded our most varied material, but until now our CD's have mainly documented our studio work. Both volumes of 'In Streams' redress this. Of the concerts; one is a whole piece from the Spitz concert organised by Eddie Prévost, then there is a short extract from the Red Rose which has a ominous feel to it that is only partially due to the hostile audience. Finally there is the whole of our Sonic Youth support gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire which also has some interesting audience reactions - the initial cheer of approval on this piece was not because we had finally started, but rather due to a well aimed missile from the front row.

ADAM BOHMAN - prepared violinn and 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, springs, piano


VOLUME 2 covers the more familiar (what I'd call) "typical" Morphogenesis, with three vast sprawls that ooze and flow in that Stockhausen "improv" vein (the more abstract Aus den sieben Tagen) meets AMM that almost teeters on the edge of chaos. Gripping stuff (mostly), like a riotous ride inside the brains of 6 creative sonic artists all attempting to communicate with each others psychˇ. Generally it all works, with the sonic synapses set to sizzle, except for a weirdly out-of-place moment where it all goes kind of serious and "classical". There's also a 3¸ minute piece (intended for radio play - possibly) that doesn't really get anywhere to speak of, and seems a might weak and out-of-place. Of all the Morphogenesis recordings I've heard these two discs hold the most "rasping" (i.e. buzzing and screeching) works that I've heard from them, and thus quite challenging. They are also well-balanced with a wide range of moods and textures. In all, they document the Morphogenesis live sound really well. (Alan Freeman)

Elsewhere in this issue, Fred Grand has written a keen review of Morphogenesis's In Streams Vol. 1. Much of what he says about the music is applicable to Vol. 2 and requires little or no elaboration from me. Both CDs are excellent. Rather than map out similar terrain, I would like to offer some general comments about the group and their way of making music. What isn't apparent from the group's earlier (mostly studio-based) recordings is how they respond to the circumstances of live performance, particularly the mood of an audience. Clive Graham notes that the briefest track on In Streams Vol. 2, 'Live at the Red Rose', has an ominous feel "that is only partially due to the hostile audience". In July 2000 the group faced an especially bemused/hostile audience - one that was considerably more vocal than the purse-lipped Red Rose crowd - when they opened for Sonic Youth at the Shepherds Bush Empire. This piece can also be found on Vol. 2. As the group's quasi-meditative gong and bell-like sounds, piano rumbles and coarse electronic blurts gradually rise above the restless hubbub of the crowd, establishing a sonic signature, the audience quietens; they listen semi-attentively for a couple of minutes or so, then begin to heckle and jeer. There is an unexpected roar of approval as a missile lobbed at the stage hits its mark. Morphogenesis respond somewhat in kind. They crank up the intensity and make more aggressive, coarser-grained, less unified sounds than usual, and take on the crowd. Interestingly, they don't choose the easy option of turning up the amplifiers. By the 14th minute they've managed to quell the audience and thin out the sound to achieve a kind of dyspeptic ethereality, and as the piece ends they receive not only grudging applause but what sounds like hard-won enthusiasm. This was an extremely partisan crowd: had the group taken to the stage wearing Sonic Youth t-shirts they might have received an altogether more favourable response. There is something of the hive mind about Morphogenesis, though the musicians are no mere drones. Roger Sutherland has said that his enjoyment of playing is never greater than when the music feels most out of control yet sounds perfectly controlled, when every single thing the musicians do works like a dream: chaos made shapely, complexity made clear. Groups in almost every genre of music strive to achieve unity, a tightness and tautness of sound that's greater than the sum of its parts. But unity is of only minor importance to Morphogenesis. Each player works principally on his own sound rather than his relationship to the group sound. One could say that when they play as a sextet there are six conceptions of Morphogenesis in operation. But the group has an additional member: the muse of sweet fortuity and happenstance. It is precisely because the musicians don't try to make a Morphogenesis sound, but just allow it to happen, that it does happen. (Brian Marley)

Not to imply that the two-volume 'In Streams' doesn't warrant the most deluxe packaging possible, but it would be polite to formally acknowledge Morphogenesis's courteous avoidance of the boxset in favor of two discrete, eight-panel, full color digipaks instead. Bravo for restraint, and it's still one hulluva spread.
Volume one collects performances from the late '90s - two recorded live in London, one in Cologne, and the studio track 'Charivari remnant.' Start here unless you've already been frozen in the center of an ice block and thawed by ten-thousand heated centipedes. Otherwise, you'll miss the shrieks of agitated head-footed mollusks transmitted by hacked long-distance telecommunications motherboards. After Morphogenesis have rustled the gag jewelry on your lumbar vertebrae, an elusive ringing does wheelies throughout the central nervous system, with no guarantee that paralysis will assist in reorientation.
Volume two collects four more performances recorded between mid 1997 and mid 2000, when no one surpassed the sextet at draping sprawling, waterlogged tapetum over spiney shoulders of lymph-challengers waving a black flag. Gong-pepper shavings drift down from the sky like fish food in an aquarium, settling on boulevards slick with alien phlegm, and causing a complex chemical reaction that yields light blue denatured pus resembling sapphire pie crust. A map wouldn't even help navigate the plumbing anomalies, mess hall assemblies, monorail prototype demonstrations (pre-kink removal), arboreal growth spurts, ultraviolet snowplows, speculum-induced, big-cat belches, freefalls through three-dimensional matrices of snorts, snuffles, blurts and scrapes (with optional rebounds through pinball machines).
With human error as the cornerstone of civilization, it's amazing that in a group the size of Morphogenesis, no one fucks it up with bad judgement or prolonged lapses of indulgence. 'In Streams' reveals just a few facets in an ongoing montage that doesn't act like a montage because of the collective discipline of Adam Bohman, Ron Briefel, Clive Graham, Clive Hall, Michael Prime and Roger Sutherland, who improvise with a high degree of coordination on enough home-made and hot-wired gear to fill several wholesale outlets.
They selectively deploy prepared instruments, signal processing, purely electronic sources, and non-musical objects; meningiomata, papillomaviruses, and liquidy protrusions you could look up in 'Diseases of the skin' get raked across bongo drum terrain, and digital goink meows vault over the corpse of Count Amadeo Avogadro's body as if part of a score derived from migratory lesions of burrowing nematodes and larvae, and it could go on forever, easily. Unless it doesn't. (Seymour Glass)

Six men hunch over piles of scrap, crap and expensive electronics, teasing sounds from effects boxes, electrified houseplants and springs, barely moving in the gloom ... Top-flight improvised electronics recorded in various situations including a Sonic Youth support slot. Clive Graham's live mix foregrounds each player in turn in a narrative which propels the music beyond amped-up pottering. There is no jazzy interaction; instead, a group sound builds up in an anarchic, spooky way. (Andi Chapple)

The impossibly lovely digipack opens like one of Mr. Prime's flowers to reveal four live actions recorded and yet on first look the overwhelming images are of motion and fatigue. There is a sense of workmanship in these images - the recordings are living beings in themselves - a sense of something happening. Breaths and slowly lowing metals and twisting of gears. In headspace and out of it. The Kunstkopf. Short waves wriggle through and past the other sounds writhing like Mongolian yellowworms that haven't even been catalogued yet. The echo of the hall shadows the proceedings, shattered into ebony fragments at the stringboard's call. How much is processed? How much of these sounds are affected, and is the finger which is at times leveled at experimental music seeking for "honesty", however facetiously? A sense of whirling in a tube rattles down the pike, along with the sonorous tones of the instrument. Which one? A moot point - all sound is fair game and the hunters peck about here and there, hither and yon, finding this one, bagging that other one, no, over there, the one that sounds like a pachinko game on the slow bus. Into a crescendo now, various tones mixing with scraping and do sounds recognise each other, old friends in the marketplace, as they pass one another in a recording? And now Freddy "Boom Boom" Pachebel and his Canon enter into the background, playing over the sounds feasting on one another... A more tentative moving around of sounds plays with a highpitch, fast and inside, splaying behind it. Huntenmusik? The child has six fathers and proceeds to awaken, crying (a little) and transmogrifying into this gas bubble, that violin, that Drano. The ghost of a chants? And the currency of the times - minutes, 19 of them, spins once twice, landing on its edge. Police sirens, now, and voices. Clouds mass across the stage and the Speaker-Eater raises its subjective head once again, threatening, threatening...the thunderclap, and the audience's besides... Gongs resonate and cheering for unseen sounds resonates, and the zebra cries out in the vast zoo of sound as the band plays on. A massing menagerie blends with the bird outside my window, and perhaps a mouse or two I cannot see. Life and the recording have merged for this one free moment and it's...well, it's quite nice, that. (David Cotner)

Bereits seit 6 CDs verbessern sie die Welt mit warm-weichem Ambient, ohne dafür je die gebührende Anerkennung zu finden. Dabei ist der Sound von Morphogenesis ziemlich einzigartig und höchstens mit den Noisemaker's Fifes vergleichbar, was nicht weiter verwundert, schliesslich hatte es unter dem Namen Negative Entropy eine Collaboration beider Bands gegeben. Basis dieses Sounds sind nicht zuletzt die Biofeedbacks von Michael Prime, der schon mal für Soloveršffentlichungen mit dem Mikro auf Fledermausjagd ging und dem Ganzen einen sehr organischen Charakter verleiht. Hinzu kommen verstärkte Objekte, Elektronik und Radio, die vor allem den ersten Studiotrack äusserst abwechslungsreich gestalten. Es schliessen sich 3 Livetracks unterschiedlicher Länge an, unter anderem ein Sonic Youth-Support Gig in London, bei dem der Applaus nicht den morphogenetischen Soundscapes gilt, sondern den gezielten Würfen aus dem Publikum (Sascha Karminski)

These two discs (76 and 72 minutes respectively) represent almost the entirety of this group's activities over the past half-decade. The practical difficulties of bringing together six members and all their gear - the pictures which accompany the CDs will give you some idea of the amount of equipment they employ - have ensured that their live performances and studio recordings have become fewer and further between. Long-time followers of Morphogenesis won't be struck by any radical changes: the group's modus operandi - good old-fashioned group electronic improvisation - remains the same. It's difficult to write about Morphogenesis without resorting to shorthand or transcription, and indeed, this music is often elusive, its essential nature and form seeming to mutate from listen to listen. The material is all signature Morphogenesis: individual sounds - always chosen and deployed with sensitivity given the potentially limitless palette of sounds available - are either introduced or drift into audio focus (depending on the member in question), are aligned with or juxtaposed atop of and underneath each other, and then faded or subjected to processing, the instrumental flow surging and receding almost tidally. Many of the recordings are run through with glisteningly fluid sound-wash, swingeing swathes of electronic noise, or churning sonic grind, and all components layer themselves together into slippery concoctions which seamlessly shape-shift with a befuddlingly natural momentum, ready to head in any conceivable direction at any given moment. It's a perpetual motion mixture of sound arrangement and real-time interaction, a balancing act, each member's individual contributions poised with unerring accuracy relative to each other within the surrounding hubbub. (Nick Cain)

The second volume of In Streams, which was reviewed last issue; a must-purchase for fans of this outstanding UK group, and for lovers of high quality electro-acoustic. In some ways this even surpasses its companion volume; more dynamic performances, and well recorded. The studio recording '24 track analogue' displays some of the most subtle group-working yet heard from the Morphos; perhaps the studio environment is the best place to capture the fine detail of their playing, particularly when dealing with the smaller and more intimate sounds that arise from the scraped bits of metal scattered on Adam Bohman's table of fun. On the other hand, the full roarage and densely melded sound-alloys of the five-strong combo leap to the fore on the intensely powerful 'Live at the Shepherds Bush Empire' cut, from July 2000. Here, the Morphs did their best to win over a sceptical Sonic Youth audience (an incident we won't dwell on, as it's becoming something of an anecdote in avant circles). After some slightly uncertain bowl-chiming at the start, they bring in the nasty electronic big guns after three minutes, and never look back thereafter. Of course, even over the course of the three years represented on this comp, they still only ever play in one tempo - slowly, as slowly as a big earthenware jar of molasses pouring down three flights of stairs into the parlour below. But it doesn't matter. The variety comes from the sheer quantity and volume of sound-events - ranging from the tiny and abrasive to the majestic and sweeping - which the hard-working players manage to cram into their impressive wide-screen vistas of sound. Imagine five or six painters working simultaneously on a huge abstract canvas, using anything and everything from single-hair sable brushes to hand-rollers dipped in emulsion. And you still wouldn't believe what you're hearing. Also here - the conclusion to the 1997 Spitz Concert, and a short three-minuter from the Red Rose club. Decorated with a large number of full-colour photographs (by Juliet Singer) of the artists at work, with their equipment and ambience around them. One of these is a striking image of Michael Prime 's bio-adapter equipment. (Ed Pinsent)

TESTCARD #11 (translated)
Assembled from 'amplified objects', electronics, 'water machine', radio, piano and other things that range from the smallest objects, electronics and classical improvisation instruments, are the 6 piece Morphogenesis with 3 live pieces and one studio recording. The improvisation process follows an extremely dense, seldom nervous flow that develops over long stretches a pleasant tension between the contemplative and more disruptive noises which is best compared with the work of AMM. Somewhat harsh 'cracked' improvisation (the Möslang/Guhl/Voice-crack school) stands next to calm 'Arte-Povera' improvisation (comparable to Kapotte Muziek), intense post-industrial sounds develop and mingle with fragments of traditional jazz improvisation. With so long an established history, it is hardly possible to talk about the Avantgarde because even this form of the 'in between music' has a tradition, which in part goes back over 20 years (like so many of the recordings from the LAFMS). But it's not the novelty that matters here, but rather that the improvisation sounds successful... even though the critics have been occasionally doubtful and subjective in judging this. It has to be said that Morphogenesis have selected only their really best live-performances for this CD, because as far as richness and style, as well as tonal contrast and dynamics are concerned these recordings are far ahead of the predictability of most improv-productions. Therefore the AMM comparison at the beginning had its reason: Only very few are successful in this. (Martin Büsser)

The WIRE (July 2001)
British improv group Morphogenesis, now in their 16th year, run a tight ship. Confident in thier course of action, they have relied upon their collective strength, cohesion and integrity to sustain them in the face of audience hostility, such as occurred when they supported Sonic Youth at west London's Shepherds Bush Empire. The angry results are documented on this new Paradigm Disc. Culled from live performances on familiar territory in London betwen 1997 - 2000, their particular blend of live electronics and communal improvisation generally suggest conciliation rather than confrontation. This is music of rapt intelligence, but it's not designed for an exclusively cerebral elite. These are performances of depth, charm and variation.
The six musicians - Adam Bohman, Ron Briefel, Clive Graham, Clive Hall, Michael Prime and Roger Sutherland - have diverse musical backgrounds ranging from the purely academic to the full gamut of improvisatory settings, with ensembles of pedigree such as The Scratch Orchestra and Nurse With Wound. The range of sounds produced both from conventional, albeit prepared instruments as well as customised ones, such as water machine, springs and amplified found objects, would be fascinating enough without the added complexity of processing, filtering and manipulation.
Morphogenesis's microcosmic soundworld is instantly recognisable and thoroughly coherent.
Generating music from conventional and non-musical materials gives rise to overwhelming timbral and textural variations. The provocative nature of their output is also an essential ingredient. Sound is moulded like fine clay, and the resulting artifact is then deliberately fragmanted, only to be rebuilt into a new form from the recognisable shards. The use of remote, ambient noises (the weather, the city), captured and manipulated in real time to be integrated into the overall piece, gives their music both its expansive temporal quality and its afterlife.
In the vanguard of experimentation and under close scrutiny in the crucible of performance, one further quality is made manifest: honesty without pretence. (John Cratchley)

Second and final installment of a small series that provide us insight in live recordings by Morphogenesis. This large group of improvisers do not play live very often and if they do, it's mainly inside London. Their releases so far were mainly culled from studio sessions. The six members (who are in various combinations present) play a very wide variety of objects, large and small , from tin cans to piano's and plants. The pictures of the members in action on the front cover is certainly an inspiring one for those who may want to try this at home. The CD opens with a studio piece, which is an excellent, well balanced piece of scraping noise, a bang on a cymbal and the sound of pushing a piano forward. The other three pieces are all live, including a short excerpt from a gig at 'The Red Rose', with a hostile audience and which finds Morphogenesis also in quite a hostile mood. Best of these live recordings is the last one, which Morphogenesis played to support Sonic Youth. Excellent recording, well balanced sounds with occassional bleeps and drones, which all worked quite well. Needless to say that I think they are a great band, and I wish they would be showing their skills abroad a little bit more. I can't be in London all the time... (Frans de Waard)

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