Photograph of some of Adam Bohmans's 'objects', copyright Raymond Mallentjer.
The group was formed in 1985 by individuals interested in exploring the possibilities of live electronics and collective improvisation. The members have diverse musical backgrounds, including teaching electonic music at Morley College and playing in other groups ranging from Cornelius Cardew's Scratch Orchestra, Nurse with Wound and Organum. The group partly originated through a course on 'The New Music: Webern and after' given by Roger Sutherland at City University (London) and Bohman and Hall had attended a course given by Phil Wachsmann.
The group's aim is to unify and integrate the most diverse sound elements - instrumental, electronic and environmental - within a context of continual evolution and group dialogue. The players use many methods of extending the range of sounds available for live performance, some, for example, constructing their own instruments using various combinations of wood, glass, metal and synthetics to create rich and varied timbres unlike those of conventional instruments. Furthermore, when orthodox instruments such as piano or guitar are used they are usually modified or prepared by the insertion of various objects between the strings, adding new colourations to the sound produced. Live electronic techniques such as digital processing, filtering and ring modulation are used to enhance and modify the original sounds. An open- ended interaction between musician and technology ensures that the music is in a constant state of evolution, avoiding pre-conceived aesthetics and ideas of structure. This is the aural equivalent of action painting, in which form and structure are determined entirely by the evolving character of the sound materials and the moment-to-moment decisions and interactions of the players.
Perhaps the most radical element of Morphogenesis' music is it's use of ambient sounds as an integral aspect of some performances. Sounds from outside the performance area - wind, rain and traffic sounds, for example - are picked up by remote-controlled microphones and are altered electronically during performance. This is consistent with the desire of the players that their music should provoke an intensified state of aural awareness which continues long after a performance is finished.
Members of Morphogenesis are also involved in other activities; for example, Adam Bohman is a member of Conspiracy, plays in an irregular (and so far unrecorded) duo with Lol Coxhill, and has produced a series of 'talking tapes', exemplified by Belgian barrage. Clive Graham started the CD label Paradigm Discs in 1996. Roger Sutherland is author of New perspectives in music.
Clive Graham, 9 Thane Mansions, Thane Villas, London N7 7PE; tel/fax: +44 (0) 171 609 1754; e-mail: email@example.com.
de Waard, Frans (1995), Morphogenesis. Vital, no. 39, (1 January).
Duguid, Brian (1992), Morphogenesis. EST, no. 4, pp. 6-11. The full text of this interview is available.
England, Phil (1995), Morphogenesis. The Wire, (June), p. 13.
Sutherland, Roger, New perspectives in music. Sun Tavern Fields.
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