19 Dec 2018
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Disjecta Membra - Album Review: Songs To Scattered Symbols

03 Feb 2017 // A review by Alex Moulton

The concept of a split release is something I have only been recently made aware of, and yet it seems like a brilliant marketing tool. In this case, it is being used as limited edition merchandise for a tour, providing three new and exclusive tracks from each band participating on the tour. As a fan of many different groups, I understand the appeal of being able to purchase something that is tour specific (I have far too many black band shirts as it is), contains material from more than just the one source, and provides new material or cover songs that can provide a greater appreciation of the music that influences the bands in question.

This release consists of nine tracks, three from each of the groups performing on the tour; IKON from Melbourne, Sounds Like Winter from Sydney, and New Zealand’s very own Disjecta Membra hailing from Wellington.

Disjecta Memba opens the split release with a cover of IKON's Subversion from the 1998 release This Quiet Earth (as opposed to the 2013 remix). Michel Rowland's vocal style is reminiscent to that of David Bowie’s 'Major Tom' persona, with a deep, full monotony that is characteristic of the gothic genres. The song is reclusive and tranquil, with haunting background music that amplifies to the forefront as the song progresses. The tempo of the track is more sedated than the original, adding an extra two minutes onto the length. 

Madeleine! Madelaine! (AMY_cin Remix) is the more restrained track of the three, with a very slow, reserved sound. Vocals are withheld for over a minute at the start of the track, and end with a minute of the track still to go. Almost gives an anticlimactic feel, with limited instrumental presence, and the song itself has a drawn out build up towards nothing. The vocal performance is the focal point of the track, but it is unfortunately masked by echoing and reverb, giving the effect of performing in a large choral hall, but at the expense of disfiguring the performance. It does however blend seamlessly into the final track from Disjecta Membra, Rasputin

Rasputin is an interesting choice of cover song, in my opinion, but it works well in the style that is was done. The original being an energetic 1978 Boney M. euro disco hit based on a Turkish folk song Kâtibim, Disjecta Membra's rendition is slower than the original, but faster than their other tracks on this release. The vocal tone is comparable to David Byrne of the Talking Heads. It has a lower tone, but manages to maintain the upbeat and positive vibes of the song, while providing a gothic flair. Certain to be a hit in the mosh pit.

Sounds Like Winter takes out the middle section of the release with a series of demos, and have a more guitar oriented sound. Blood Red has a U2-style guitar riff, and a melody driven by the bass guitar.  The vocals are dominant and over-enunciated, feeling disjointed from the rest of the music (insert the guy that yells in the B-52's hit Love Shack). The chord choices feel dysfunctional, but the weirdness works for it. Their follow-up track I Hide In Sleep again has bass guitar in the prominent position, and the melody is never drowned out by the other instruments. The guitars provide a cacophony of sound that gives the effect of ringing bells, which I found quite unique. The vocals and music mix better here, but still is rather monotonous and has a tinny production sound. Their final contribution, The Life Of The Just has a more upbeat tone, and the guitar has the focus this time. This track also features some synthesizer/keyboard parts which gives a fuller sound overall. Vocals feel forced in this track, like Ant Banister is over exerting to raise the volume and depth of his voice.

Closing off the release is IKON, who have a much more mainstream sound to them. Silence Is Calling has a grungy feel to it (it follows the music formula more closely with verse, chorus, verse, compared the other groups that meander more) and has an interesting use of harmonics. Vocal styling of Chris McCarter is the most melodic of the three bands, though still very much staccato in nature. His vocals are clear, easy to understand, and are firmly placed over the top of the music. The two remaining tracks suffer slightly in comparison to their predecessor, with Key To The Stars coming off with an R.E.M sound (or perhaps that of The Mutton Birds' Anchor Me), and Don't Cry Little Child has very little worth commenting on. The vocals are smooth in these tracks, but come off as tedious and repetitive. The music is adequate, but nothing really stands out.

 

About Disjecta Membra

Founded in 1994, Disjecta Membra begain as the solo recording project of frontman Michel. A live band was formed in 1995, and by 1996 the band had secured a dedicated national following within the Goth community.

In early 1998 the old line-up was replaced by drummer Mark Hamill (HLAH), classical pianist Petra Skoric and Jaz Murphy (bassist with Jordan Reyne and Dr Kevorkian).

Alex Mein Smith joined as a second guitarist later in 1999.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Disjecta Membra

Releases

Achromaticia
Year: 1997
Type: Album
Theta Sessions
Year: 1996
Type: Album

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