We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Origin Unknown 1986

by various artists

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
    Purchasable with gift card

      name your price




Origin Unknown – some scattered recollections

I’m not sure who or what prompted the title of Origin Unknown.
I suppose we were all unknown at that time, unknown to ourselves, to each other. This would also be, in some way, a kind of opposition to what was known, or a provocation, perhaps (which I like better). There is a potential hidden here and we are taking a risk.
Origin Unknown, billed as An Evening of Improvised Music and Performance, took place on Sunday 13th July 1986 at the Cockpit Theatre in Gateforth Street, London NW8. The event was organised to showcase and bring together many experimental musicians and artists who had been working together in London for a number of years, all largely unknown.
At that time, I was still known as Richard “Scarecrow” Gill - my name would finally be shed and transformed into just “Crow” the following year as part of a Butoh-inspired performance.

Adam Bohman and I met each other in the winter of 1984 as part of the open experimental music workshop run every Saturday by the late Robert “Teddy” Coleridge at the aforementioned Cockpit Theatre and we were both active members of CIM (Cockpit Improvised Music) along with Paul Bevan, Peter Langford, Jonathan Bohman, Spiro Moutsatsos and many others, including Mark Browne – who, for some reason or other, does not appear on these recordings (why was that Mark?)
CIM boasted an impressive array of in-house instruments at their disposal, including cellos, pianos, woodwind and percussion, not to mention all manner of noise-making devices, and this would have been one of the many reasons I hung around and came to the open workshop sessions– this and Adam’s contact mic'ed prepared violin and the various everyday objects he used as part of his set-up - I was particularly fascinated as I’d never seen anything quite like that before. This was when he was practically unknown; I would say that meeting Adam at that time was very inspiring and we became close friends.

I’d heard about Phillip Wachmann’s evening class on Improvisation and Electro-acoustic music at the City Literary Institute in Covent Garden, and encouraged by Adam (who had been attending for some time) joined in September of 1984; this is where I would also encounter Nick Couldry and his furious piano-playing (we hardly spoke more than a few words at that time, but there was a feeling that we were part of something extraordinary). As an experimental home-taper/industrial musician like myself, this evening class and, more importantly, the electronic music studio, was an amazing resource. There was an odd mix of individuals who attended; some came once or twice just to check it out - I recall inviting Andrew Lagowski who was keen to get his hands on the EMS VCS3s, as well as Joe Banks who stayed the course. Part of the evening class involved the mandatory free improvisation session with Phil and all and sundry who attended (there’s a funny story I tell sometimes of Jem Finer, who was only allowed once to improvise with us all) making use of all the bizarre home-made percussion instruments (think perhaps of Paul Burwell and Tony Oxley here) as well as piano frames, and electronics. These sessions were always meticulously recorded by Phil on a Revox. One got the (unspoken) impression that if you passed this test, you were welcome to come back next term and indefinitely. The Diastolic Murmurs (myself and Adam Bohman) were formed here in 1985, in this wonderfully creative, somewhat eccentric environment.

As a way to promote and publicise our unknown selves and the event - a photoshoot was organised and took place in my bedroom-studio with Adam Bohman, Nick Couldry, and myself. The young Polish photographer Ada Dobrowska captured a series of wonderfully performative moments that verge on the mysterious and the absurd, using her trademark long exposure technique - she also had a small exhibition of photographs displayed in the foyer of the Cockpit theatre during the event (I believe Nick Couldry was instrumental in getting this to happen). One of the images from the photoshoot was used for the poster.

Listening back to these recordings some 37 years later poses a number of questions, why wasn’t this recorded through the mixing desk? or maybe it was, and that is lost forever.

The first improvisation, called Initiation, is a piano duet for two players using one piano, with Nick Couldry and Clive Hall (who also at that time was a member of Morphogenesis)
“one instrument and two styles: an unequal conflict between different structural principles.”

Live Electronic Dissections #2 was our second Diastolic Murmurs live performance and it was fraught with difficulties – there were no slide projections as the bulb blew during the set up (so no slides for the backdrop) and I recall there was no soundcheck either - this had already put me in a pretty foul mood– it was literally plug in the contact mics and destroy (rubbing, scraping, ripping, dropping) the equipment and objects on the white cloths as fast as possible (in my case) – there are a number of carefully prepared backing tapes playing simultaneously from handheld tape recorders - Adam’s pause pieces and my own treated medical soundscape of diseased heartbeats introduced by the inimitable George D. Geckeler M.D, from which LP the Diastolic Murmurs got their name. Amplification was faulty, there was no mixer on stage, at about 17 mins or so in, I’d had enough and my contact mics that I had used on various surfaces (including the dead branch of a tree) were broken and my tape machine had stopped working and chewed up the tape - which I took out with my hands, it’s sort of churned up there in the buried sounds – at this point, I left the stage abruptly and hid behind the makeshift screen (a white sheet) - all part of the performance you might say, like leaving an operation half way through the surgery - I’d expected that maybe Adam would follow me but, for some reason, he continued stoically using a backing tape and his prepared trumpet - blowing up balloons and letting the air out from the amplified pickup, sometimes bowing and hitting his stringed balalaika and so, somehow, he manages to endure solely by himself for the remainder of the performance – or as I believe, knowing Adam, when the backing tape comes to an end or in this performance is sort of turned down, and so, after almost 26 mins, Live Electronic Dissections # 2, the Diastolic Murmurs second live performance, is over.

Of the first group Improvisation (Part 1) that follows I have no memory, but if you listen carefully I believe Adam Bohman is playing a trumpet.

Chris Lord’s piece Digital Voodoo - My Only Desire is a private ritual made public (see the PDF in the download for Chris’s programme notes to read a fuller description). He was quite a maverick character, "operating according to completely different set of parameters; more intellectual and less sensory than the rest of us" (Nick Couldry). We would, as part of The Travelling Court of the Institution of Rot (myself and Nick), encounter Chris once again in 1995 in Prague, at an impromptu performance in which, drunk, he lectured us wearing nothing but stained underpants.

The WAKE piece Half-life (Improvisation with Tape) is a trio of myself, Adam Bohman and Nick Couldry. The backing tape in question, which became known later as “Requiem” because it includes a section of Brahms’s German Requiem played on a record player, is completely improvised to a roughly pre-conceived idea and was recorded site-specifically using broken and prepared instruments in an empty room for ghostly presence. On the tape, Nick Couldry plays both broken piano and harmonium simultaneously, Adam Bohman strums and plucks a prepared Mandolin, while I bowed a scratchy violin, played electric organ, out of tune autoharp and record player. On the live recording we add another layer to the backing tape – the instrumentation is Nick Couldry piano, Adam Bohman prepared violin, myself cello and the backing tape.
This layering of recorded tape and accompaniment further complicates the live improvisation as it implies both some kind of structure and to some extent a chain that seems to hinder and paralyse the players; it’s an interesting experiment that was never repeated, as it would be different each time, one imagines. However, this would be the first live performance of the trio WAKE and the musicians would play together many times in different combinations and in different groups.

The final group Improvisation (Part 3) which follows appears to feed off these tensions, intensities and nervous energy - there were no intervals between performances) and begins with duos and then trios which overlap and expand to the complete group playing together (I’m sure Teddy – had choreographed this) reaching a sense of climax and general catharsis, with a gong being scraped across the stage and finally dropped.

Crow [April 2023]


released April 30, 2023

01 Initiation
Nick Couldry and Clive Hall piano

02 Live Electronic Dissections 2 [part 1&2]
Diastolic Murmurs
Adam Bohman prepared violin, metal tubes, bowed & amplified objects, tape recorders, backing tapes
Richard Gill bowed & amplified objects, Fostex X15, tape recorders, backing tapes

03 [Part 1] Improvisation
CIM [Cockpit Improvised Music]
Paul Bevan electric vibraphone
Adam Bohman trumpet
Robert 'Teddy' Coleridge piano
Nick Couldry piano
Sally Kidall violin
Spiro Moutsatsos saxophone
Mick Ritchie guitar

04 My Only Desire
Digital Voodoo
Chris Lord live electronics
Sally Kidall violin

05 Half Life [Improvisation with Tape]
Adam Bohman prepared mandolin
Nick Couldry piano
Richard Gill cello, backing tape [recording of an improvisation called Requiem by WAKE]

06 Blood on the Rise
Veiled Isis performance soundtrack
Adam Bohman amplified wine glass
Richard Gill slides, backing tape, electric vibraphone

07 [Part 3 ]Improviation
CIM [Cockpit Improvised Music]
Paul Bevan melodica
Adam Bohman trumpet
Robert 'Teddy' Coleridge piano
Nick Couldry piano
Richard Gill post horn, gongs, percussion
Sally Kidall violin
Chris Lord electric vibraphone
Spiro Moutsatsos saxophone
Mick Ritchie guitar

08 Requiem [backing tape]
Adam Bohman prepared mandolin
Nick Couldry harmonium and broken piano
Richard Gill violin, electric organ, autoharp, record player
recorded March 1986 at The Forest Room,109 Corbyn Street, London N4

Origin Unknown recorded 13 July 1986 by Adam Bohman at the Cockpit Theatre London NW8

a PDF of the original festival programme and poster is included in the download

cassette transfers by Crow
cover/poster photograph by Ada Dobrowska


all rights reserved



scatterArchive Glasgow, UK

since 1994

pay what you can afford


contact / help

Contact scatterArchive

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Origin Unknown 1986, you may also like: