Disjecta Membra was formed in Hamilton in 1993 by Michel Rowland (better known simply as Michel) as a song-writing/recording entity, following the demise of earlier projects Danse Macabre (1987-1992) and Nösferätu (1988-1990). Michel (guitar, vocals, Casiotone, drum-machines, bass) enlisted the help of Dave Jones (bass, keyboards, guitar) from rock band Waters, and between 1993 and 1994 recorded a number of demo sessions. From these sessions the Sex Insekta six-song demo-tape was compiled, with the track Cathedral receiving regular play-listing on Contact 89FM in 1994.
In 1995 a live unit was formed with Paul Kennedy, adding second guitar and taking over keyboard duties, and with Ben Cauchi eventually replacing Dave Jones on bass. A drum-machine was added and christened Deus ex Machina. Disjecta Membra played extensively in-and-around Hamilton from about mid-'95 onwards, alongside Silver Thread, Wendyhouse, Dean, Avant Garbage, King Biscuit, Widdershins, Mancini, and others.
The band was approached by local producer Dave Whitehead of Theta Productions (also former guitarist for Requiem and Cygnet Committee), and in October the first studio recording Androgyne Waltz was recorded for Theta. Theta placed the track on various industry promo-sampler compilations, leading to good national radio coverage for the band. Membra continued recording with Theta Productions between December '95 and February '96, this time produced by Whitehead's business partner Dave Lowndes (also of Requiem). The resultant EP was released on cassette and CD and entitled simply The Theta Sessions; it was well received by the Student Radio Network stations and by various gothic and industrial specialist radio shows around New Zealand and Australia. The Theta Sessions also caught the attention of Melbourne's Heartland Records, who signed the band for an album deal.
Paul Kennedy had left the group in October and replaced briefly by Scott Dean of Dean on guitar, keyboards and Casiotone during November. From December 'Membra live became a duo of Michel (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum-machine) and Ben Cauchi (bass, Casiotone, screaming), whilst Deus ex Machina (Mk II) took over additional synth and sequencing duties. The project was also joined by performance artist Anna Maggat (theatre, props, percussion) for a short time. Writer/poet Deonne Rowland became a regular contributor to Disjecta Membra from 1995-2001, also engendering spin-off project Sympathy For Her Heroine.
Also between late '95 and early '96, Disjecta Membra began making incursions into the main centres of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as more remote provincial locations, quickly gaining a strong national following on the strength of their "niche market" gothic appeal. Fans often followed the group from one end of the country to the other, and it was not uncommon for Disjecta Membra to arrive in Wellington for a one-off gig to be met by travelers from around New Zealand who had flown in to catch the show.
By mid '96 Tamlyn Martinovich of Janitor's Lung joined the group in time for the Battle of the Bands 1996, and Janitor's Lung (later Genitus Lung) and 'Membra began gigging together regularly. Bevis Langman Painter (recently of Auckland improv-noise outfit Viper) also became sound technician for both bands.
In November '96 Cauldron of Cerridwen [single edit] was recorded at The Fridge Studio; again produced by Dave Lowndes, it was released on the Heartland Records compilation A Bouquet of Barbed Wire. This (and the following album Achromaticia) made Disjecta Membra the first New Zealand "gothic" band to be signed and released on an international label, and consolidated Membra's reputation both at home and abroad as "New Zealand's leading gothic band". Cauldron... became popular with gothic specialist DJs, clubs and radio shows around the world, particularly in the UK, Germany and Australia, where it became regarded by many as a gothic rock/dance classic. In December 1996 the band recorded the album Achromaticia with Dave Lowndes at several locations around Hamilton, including Kurt Joy's bedroom, Theta Productions and Waikato Polytechnic Studios.
Throughout the year Disjecta Membra, Genitus Lung, FALLen, Usine, Lure and Department of Corrections (+ related personnel and projects) had also gradually forged for themselves their own distinct 'niche' within the Hamilton underground scene through collaboration and orchestrating events together, culminating in an event known as Sub-Merger in December 1996. Disjecta Membra - namely Michel, Ben, Tamlyn, Bev and Deonne - then moved to Wellington, the hub of the band's live fan-base in New Zealand.
In early 1997 Heartland released Achromaticia. The tracks Skin Trade, Malcolm (with vocal by Deonne), The Sleep, Danse Macabre, a new version of Cauldron of Cerridwen and a cover of Rats by Hamilton gothic-rock band The Haunting prove especially popular with gothic fans, clubs, fanzines and radio. Skin Trade was also released on gothic compilation New Alternatives IV by the band's UK/Europe label Nightbreed UK Records
Ben Cauchi was replaced bassist Jacob Sullivan, from Wellington goth trio Reserved For Emily. Official press-releases state that Ben has been sacked "because he smelt funny", a quote which was later used by UK journalist Mick Mercer in his book 21st Century Goth. Mark H. Beast, a.k.a Hiddeebeast from Head Like A Hole, sees the band live in April and offers to become their full-time sound engineer. Disjecta Membra toured New Zealand in support of the album from July to August. The line-up is Michel (vocals, guitar), Jacob Sullivan (bass) and Tamlyn Martinovich (keyboards). Bev Painter and Mark H. Beast tour as the road/sound/light crew. Reserved For Emily tour as a support act, while Genitus Lung also reform to play support on the tour. Tamlyn quits the band mid-tour and Deus ex Machina (Mk III) again takes over keyboard duties.
In 1997, a cellist and violinist (names unknown) are recruited for the recording of the band's next scheduled single Antoinette Marionette. A new guitarist, Barnaby (Barney) Dromgool (from the Jordan Reyne-led Dr Kevorkian), is added to the line-up.
In 1998, the Deus ex Machina Mix of Cathedral appeared on a 3-CD boxed-set of Australian bands called Dark Eyed and Starry They Were (Volume II), on Heartland Records. Mark H. Beast quits HLAH to become Disjecta Membras full-time drummer, playing both acoustic and electronic drums. Petra Skoric replaces Tamlyn Martinovich on keyboards when Tamlyn leaves to travel South East Asia. Barnaby recruits Dr Kevorkian bandmate Jaz Murphy (bass) when Jacob Sullivan quits to focus on fronting Reserved For Emily. Following the collapse of both Dr Kevorkian and HLAH, Jordan Reyne publicly dubs Michel "Michel Goth - Destroyer of Bands". The new five-piece band plays support to iconic UK neo-folk/no-wave/industrial pioneers Death In June on their New Zealand tour. Disjecta Membra commence recording their follow-up album Sibylline Leaves in the home recording studios of Bev Painter and Mark Beast'.
In 1999, the track Halah-Rain, lifted from the Sibylline Leaves album sessions, appears on the New Zealand "Gothic & Industrial" compilation Solid Goth Hits, released by Auckland gothic label/event promoters Club Bizarre. Barney quits and is replaced (briefly) by Vivian Stewart, who went on to play bass in Serenna - a Wellington-based gothic/classical/rock/folk/metal influenced quartet who also have roots in Hamilton. Petra Skoric also left the band in 1999. Michel and Jason Just of Palmerston North's Burnt Weeping Eyes and Lightslastfading form the label Mediatrix.
As a 'band', Disjecta Membra became increasingly inactive from 2000 due to ever-changing personnel and several failed attempts to record the Sibylline Leaves album. The album was finally abandoned in 2000 after all original master recordings since late '97 were repeatedly erased, lost or damaged. Michel instead focused on running Mediatrix, promoting events, and performing as a session musician for other projects on the label. Membra made rare live appearances during this time, usually at large-scale events run by Mediatrix such as the annual Darkness Gathering weekend-festival in Wellington. Disjecta Membra continued, however, primarily as a solo writing & recording project with additional musicians brought in as session players. The only other regular member at this time was Russell Dench (piano, keyboards, samples, programming etc) from 2000-2003. Other contributors included Louise Juventine (bass, acoustic guitar, piano and vocals) from 2000-2001, Ana Roxburgh (vocals, cello, acoustic guitar) 2001-2002, and Iris P. Love (guitars, treatments) 2001-2003.
In 2001 the track ...and Close Your Eyes appeared on the limited edition Mediatrix compilation CD Darkness Gathering II (given away free at the second annual Darkness Gathering festival). In 2003 the long-lost Antoinette Marionette was released on the Eternal Chapters compilation, released by Sacrament Radio in Australia.
Hamilton 2004-2006Paul Tregilgas (drums), Paul Oakley (bass) and Stan Jagger (guitar). Between 2005-2006 Disjecta Membra began working on material for a new album. This included selections of music written during the ten years and many incarnations of Disjecta Membra that had passed since Achromaticia was recorded, as well as newer songs worked out with the line-up. A number of other members from previous line-ups also contributed as session players for selected tracks from the new material.
Returning to Wellington, band members again changed, and has included: ex-Hamiltonian Kane Davey (guitars, bass 2007-present), Vivian Stewart (guitar 2007-2009), Stefan Sarten (drums 2007), Isobel Te Aho-White (bass 2007-present), Bryan Tabuteau (guitars, tech-2007), Daniel Cross (guitars 2008) and Matthew Tāmati Scott (guitars, keys-present). In 2008 the band released an expanded digital reissue of Achromaticia.
Between 2010 to 2013, the band was again on hiatus. In 2014, the track Death By Discothéque (ANKST Remix) was released on the compilation This is Gothic Rock Vol. 1. In 2015 the band released a five track EP, Death by Discothèque (Remixes) EP, which included two remixes by Dave Lowndes. In November that year, Disjecta Membra collaborated with former Hamiltonian taonga pūoro (traditional Māori musical instrument) artist Rob Thorne to release ‘Whakataurangi Ake’, an interpretation of the well-known Maniapoto waiata.
In late-2016, the band supported UK band 'The Mission' at the Powerstation, Auckland, and Bodega, Wellington. In early 2018, the band released a Achromaticia: Twentieth Anniversary Edition.
- Sex Insekta promo tape, 1994
- The Theta Sessions EP, 1996
- Achromaticia album, 1997
- Death by Discothèque (Remixes) EP, 2015
- The Infancy Gospels EP, 2016
- Songs to Scattered Symbols split album, 2017
- Cauldron of Cerridwen [single edit] appears on the 1996 compilation A Bouquet of Barbed Wire (Heartland Records, Australia)
- Cathedral (Deus ex Machina Mix) appears on the 1998 compilation Dark Eyed and Starry They Were (Volume II) (Heartland)
- Skin Trade appears on the 1998 compilation New Alternatives IV (Nightbreed Recordings UK)
- Halah-Rain appears on the 1999 compilation Solid Goth Hits (Club Bizarre, NZ)
- ...and Close Your Eyes appears on the 2001 compilation Darkness Gathering II (Mediatrix, NZ)
- Antoinette Marionette appears on the 2003 compilation Eternal Chapters (Sacrament Radio/2RRR FM, Sydney, Australia)
- Walking in Light appears on the 2007 compilation She's Lost
- Death By Discothéque (ANKST Remix) appears on the 2014 compilation This is Gothic Rock Vol. 1
- Madeleine! Madelaine! (Molière Mix) appears on the 2015 compilation For the Bats volume III