From Scratch
From Scratch 

FROM SCRATCH is a New Zealand group with an international reputation for innovation, and an energetic and compelling style of music performance. The group has worked in the Auckland area since the mid 1970s, gaining its reputation firstly as a four person group, and later, during the early 1980s, as a trio. Members have included founder Phil Dadson, Geoff Chapple, Bruce Barber, Barry Barque, Wayne Laird, Don McGlashan, Walter Muller, James McCarthy, Neville Hall, and more recnetly Shane Currey, Adrian Croucher and Darryn Harkness.

On Songs for Heroes, FROM SCRATCH combine a mixture of unusual instrumentation, hocketing, patterning, and complex rhythmical structures to convey a sense of timeless ritual. These methods and techniques have been a feature of FROM SCRATCH from their inception. 

The rhythmical implications of Phil's earlier VOM manifesto (Variable Occasional Music, an off-shoot of Cornelius Cardew's Scratch Orchestra based around polyrhythmic interplay and a shared responsibility of the musical parts) prompted a drift from large scale pieces to smaller scale, tightly-structured rhythmical works. This led to the eventual formation of FROM SCRATCH in 1974. The group's political perspective is informed by their Pacific context. Egalitarian and co-operative ideals are deeply embodied in the music of FROM SCRATCH, as well as in its approach to performance. The emphasis is on integration and balance, where the performers essentially share equal and similar roles. 

Phil lectured in sculpture for many years at the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, and from the start, a strong visual dynamic was equal to the musical content of FROM SCRATCH’s repertoire. Instruments are characterised as much by their sculptural look as their sound, and have gradually evolved from random tuned found junk to finely pitched custom-built works of art.

The sound world of FROM SCRATCH is unique to Aotearoa/New Zealand, and Songs for Heroes is unlike any album you are ever likely to hear. 

For more information, visit and Phil Dadson at Furious