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Morphogenesis: In Streams. Volume 1 1996-1999 (2002)

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Morphogenesis: In Streams. Volume 1 1996-1999 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

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 (http://www.stalk.net/paradigm/morphogenesis.htm) 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.

Track Listing: Live at the Spitz (part 1); Live at the Windmill; Charivari remnant; Live at the Stadtgarten

Personnel: Adam Bohman; Ron Briefel; Clive Graham; Clive Hall; Michael Prime; Roger Sutherland (track 3 only)

Record Label: Paradigm


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