"Me and Ross are brothers. We met Skye at a party. We never repeat ourselves. And we smoke a lot," Morcheebaâ€™s beats supremo and deadpan humorist Paul Godfrey once told a press conference of bemused Russian journalists when asked to explain the band.
"Great songwriting. Fantastic guitar playing," added Ross Godfrey, who plays the guitars and helps to write the songs. Sitting next to them, Skye smiled enigmatically. Looked at her feet. And sensibly said nothing, preferring to let her mellow, jazz-tinged vocals do her talking.
But how do you sum up Morcheeba, a band who have always defied categorisation and whose main objective over four albums has been never to repeat themselves" You could invent an entire new genre for them, as Mixmag did. "Dub-soul-trip-rock-meditation-trance-pop", they called it. But even that is probably only the half the story.
MorcheebaClubbers love Morcheeba for the trip-hop dreamscapes of tracks such as Trigger Hippie to soothe frazzled nerves after a night of frenzy.
Socialites bought into them when the cool downtempo grooves of 1998â€™s million-selling Big Calm for a brief season became an essential accessory at all the best dinner parties.
Others came on board for the more upbeat disco-pop of Rome Wasnâ€™t Born In A Day and yet others for the limpid beauty of the Lambchop-assisted What New York Couples Fight About.
Movie directors are drawn to their atmospheric moodscapes, with Trigger Hippie appearing in Enemy Of The State, Tape Loop in This Yearâ€™s Love, On The Rhodes in Traffic and World Looking In in Family Man.
But perhaps above all, Morcheeba appeal most to those who simply love good music in whatever guise it comes and who admire a band that dares to be different.
So after eight years and four albums, itâ€™s time to take stock via the 18 track compilation Parts Of The Process and assess the achievement of a band it's impossible to categorise, other than to say in everything theyâ€™ve ever done theyâ€™ve consistently refused to compromise their musical integrity.
It is, indeed, true that Paul and Ross met Skye at a party (in Greenwich, if you really need to know). And - according to the Virgin Encyclopaedia of Popular Music, so this must be correct - they were drawn together by "a mutual affinity for songwriting, marijuana and soundtracks." Although not necessarily in that order.
The first result of their collaboration was Trigger Hippie, released as a single in late 1995. It became an underground cult hit and itâ€™s chilled-out, trip-hop beats found Morcheeba bracketed with the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead. The track also established a reputation for the band as purveyors of classy, post-club, comedown vibes that was reinforced by their 1996 debut album, Who Can You Trust.
As a counter to the brash triumphalism of Britpop, the album reflected the darker underbelly of the times perfectly. Who Can You Trust led to both critical acclaim and commercial success, as well as a triumphant tour of the US, where their growing legion of fans was joined by David Byrne, with whom they would later work. In addition to Trigger Hippie, Moog Island, Tape Loop and Never An Easy Way from Who Can You Trust are all included on Parts Of The Process
The band enjoyed their initial success to the hilt and embarked on a hedonistic assault on the good life. But their own comedown was considerable. "We had as much drinking and partying as we could possibly handle in our entire lives. It's a miracle we didn't die," says Paul. Or as the liner note of their second album explained: "Partying â€˜til dawn was beginning to take its toll and they were getting bored. With this in mind they needed new songs and a new record in the shops."
And what a record it was. Released in 1998, Big Calm is one of those albums, like Mobyâ€™s Play or David Grayâ€™s White Ladder, that swiftly came to take on a life of its own and become an iconic accessory on a million coffee-tables out there in IKEA dream-home land. "Couply shag music," one reviewer called it. "Late night, whisky-gurgling, joint-rolling grooves," was another criticâ€™s description.
Big Calm is represented on Parts Of The Process by five tracks - The Sea, Blindfold, Part of the Process, Let Me See and Over and Over.
After a million-selling album, record company marketing departments always want more of the same in the strange belief that people will not notice that you are repeating yourself. Morcheeba knew better. After a couple more years of partying in which they attempted to outdo their earlier excesses, they realised that the third album had to be completely different.
With everybody expecting another moody melange of after-midnight beats, they decided to embark instead on a quest for the perfect pop song and to create an album that recalled "the pop music we loved when we were kids."
"We always had this big problem that we couldn't get on the radio because people would fall asleep and crash their cars," Ross joked. "So we thought we'd make a record suitable for daytime listening." The working title of the album was Mindless Happiness, although it eventually became Fragments Of Freedom.
Released in 2000, funk, disco, summery pop and old skool hip-hop were all thrown into the mix. Be Yourself, Rome Wasn't Built In A Day and World Looking In represent the album on Parts Of The Process.
Two years later, Charango found Morcheeba off in search of fresh musical pastures yet again on their fourth album, embracing Brazilian beats, inviting American rappers Slick Rick and Pace Won to contribute to their increasingly eclectic vision and collaborating with Kurt Wagner of Nashville-based alt-country heroes, Lambchop.
In addition to such faultless Morcheeba mood pieces as Otherwise and Way Beyond, the album is represented on Parts Of The Process by two songs co-written with Wagner, What New York Couples Fight About ( which also finds the Lambchop singer duetting with Skye) and the sumptuous Undress Me Now.
The latter was half-finished but with no words when they gave it to Wagner. "That was on a Friday," Ross recalls. "On the Monday he sent us five songs that fitted over the track and we had to pick the one we liked the best."
After the release of Charango, the band embarked on another marathon world tour, which in addition to the usual rock'n'roll stopovers, took them for the first time to both Russia and China.
Somehow, they found a gap in the touring schedule to record two new songs. "We can't stop," says Ross. "We'll have a moment off and I'll write a song and go to Paul and say 'listen to this' and he'll write some lyrics for it and before we know it we're in the studio and we've got a couple of tracks finished."
Which is exactly how new tracks Whatâ€™s Your Name (featuring Big Daddy Kane) and Can't Stand It came to end up on Parts of The Process. Both songs were written by Paul and Ross with Rob Davis, recorded in the band's Clapham studio while others were taking a break last Christmas and finished on tour in Australia.
Where the band will venture next remains to be seen. But one thing is certain. Donâ€™t expect Morcheeba to repeat themselves. They haven't done so yet. They have no intention of starting now. And they probably couldnâ€™t if they tried.