Twenty three years in the making, New Zealand’s most stoic gang of black trouser enthusiasts give birth to their mewling new offspring The Infancy Gospels.
Sporadically active since 1993, ‘The Infancy Gospels’ is Disjecta Membra's culmination of a continual evolution that has seen the band stretch out across a range of stylistic tangents, always anchored by the commanding baritone of vocalist / guitarist Michel Rowland. This range is wholly evident and on display in this EP, with the band exploring a remarkable amount of territory for such a truncated set.
Opening track ‘Whakataurangi Ake’ pays tribute to their nation’s Maori heritage. Spectral synth washes and native dialect evoke a meditative and ceremonial mood before the title track erupts, all booming drums and wrenching squeals of feedback that build to an almost unbearable crescendo, before a swaggering guitar wades in on monstrous bandy legs with its boots done up to eleven. It’s rockist as fuck and drenched in blues but avoids the perils of cliché as it afflicts the hips, adding layers of guitar until it towers like an obelisk.
‘Lilitu’ finds them back on more traditional gothic rock slopes, with spidery guitars slicing moorish arcs across a stop/start staccato, flanged out bass and hooks upon hooks.
Standout track ‘Cerunnos’ is yet another kettle of diseased fish and perhaps the most realised track on this collection. A western horse opera lilt pervades as Morricone motifs lead into a cinematic break, lead guitars duelling and vast swathes of landscape invading the mind’s eye, alternating with the grizzled grimaces of men lashed to an oar. It recalls the Bad Seeds at their more ambitious, whilst also embracing an almost Celtic folk rock flavour, the tastes complementing and enhancing their twin rather than competing for your palate.
In stark contrast to this bombast sits closing track 'Madeleine! Madeleine!', which is pure club-floor and as catchy as chlamydia. Love gone wrong with its dancing shoes on, bolstered by synths and bopping in its bedroom.
Few projects achieve the longevity that Disjecta Membra have enjoyed, plagued by line-up changes but buoyed by a fervent support in cult circles as they toil away on their anthems at the arse end of the world. Applause is due and is their due.
If this release is any indicator, perhaps their best work is yet to come.
Get it here: https://disjectamembra.bandcamp.com/album/the-infancy-gospels-ep