R E V I E W
'Acromaticia: Twentieth Anniversary Edition' by Disjecta Membra
Formed in Hamilton in 1993, Disjecta Membra is commonly considered New Zealand’s premier goth band. Active in Hamilton until 1996, they moved to Wellington in 1997, and released their debut album ‘Achromaticia’ in that year. While Achromaticia has been out of print for many years, interest in the band, and the album, has grown. To meet demand, the band have recently released ‘Achromaticia: Twentieth Anniversary Edition’, which features three CDs.
The first disc features the album, Achromaticia. From the opening (church) bell, this album is classic ‘90s Goth rock, much of which more than adequately stands the test of time. Highlights for me are the more upbeat songs; ‘Skin Trade’, in particular, sounds like it could have been pulled from the Headless Chickens debut Stunt Clown, while the cover of (Hamilton band) The Haunting’s song ‘Rats’ is also (still) superb. Other strong songs include ‘Cathedral (Deus ex Machina Mix)’ and ‘Danse Macabre’. It is difficult not to make comparisons with the sound of this album, from 20 years ago, with more recent releases. The production quality of the newer releases has of course advanced greatly, the band’s sound has diversified, and singer Michel’s voice has become stronger and deeper through time. But I think anyone buying this album will know what they are getting. Classic. ‘90s. Goth.
In the second and third discs, containing over 40 songs, we can see how the music on Achromaticia has its roots firmly set in Hamilton. Included are demos of tracks from the album, as well as of many unreleased songs written by the band at the time, recorded in the garages, basements, and probably living rooms of houses in Fairview Downs, St Andrews and Hamilton East. Further, songs are included from performances at Hamilton venues The Wailing Bongo, The Exchange and The Meteor. An interview is included, split over several parts, with Adam Hyde from Contact 89FM’s Urban Jangle show, which certainly makes me feel nostalgic for Hamilton of the 1990s. And all of this is before you even get into the bonus download material! A beautifully produced booklet is hidden in the 4th CD slot, that you might miss if you don’t go looking for it, which includes detailed information on where each of these songs was recorded.
Overall, this is a must-have for lovers of Hamilton music, and for listeners of classic New Zealand goth. If you want a copy, the album is can be ordered through their Bandcamp: http://disjectamembra.bandcamp.com/album/achromaticia
- Ian Duggan