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Label & Cat.Number: Ambivalent Scale A-Scale 055
Release Year: 2016
Note: great return by the exceptional 'Pop meets Avantgarde' - duo of MARTYN BATES and PETER BECKER, on their journey for 36 years now! " An imaginative, emotional, headswirling buzz to wrap up another fascinating release from the always reliable duo, who never fail to excite us while eliciting nuances of emotional responses that are all-too-rare in this cookie-cutter, commercial world of Voices, Idols, and other nameless, brainless distractions." [Jeff Penczak / Ptolemaic Terrascope]
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €13.00
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More Info"An album of unusual songs, sounding both exotic and as a new take on things, but somehow familiar and the music comes together in a way only Eyeless In Gaza music can. The music often sounds stern and sometimes deeply melancholic, with exciting and successful soundscapes. I am sure this album will stand out as one of the more memorable albums from last 10 years, but we never know where they go from here. Always an exciting adventure to follow as it unravels!
Listen to Tamarisk (early version) on YouTube, which gives an idea of what to expect from the album, even if the album cover quite a big territory:
Martyn Bates : e-guitars/voices/clarinet/kybds.
Peter Becker : bass/drums/e-guitars/voice/percussions/slide-guitar/piano/wasp/drum-machine/tapes/all engineering & recording.
❖ First album of all-new Eyeless In Gaza material since 2014’s Mania Sour.
❖ Completed August 2016 recorded at A-Scale studios Warwickshire, the Bates/Becker produced Sun Blues sees Eyeless In Gaza offering a 2016 styled distant cousin to 1982’s classic Pale Hands I Loved So Well. In an environment where the studio is very much a musical instrument, the band deliver a collection of filigree musics created via an organic osmosis, layering techniques, together with a painstakingly considered collaging of all elements. Here are instrumental discoveries & improvisations/pictures painted with words – songs that have an inbuilt claustrophobia and sonic density – playfully investigating the soundworlds/territories of the kosmische.
❖ On Sun Blues, of particular note is the combination of Martyn Bates’ at times melancholic, sometimes passionate vocals – which come across exceptionally strongly – teamed with the extraordinary, mercurial bass guitar work of Peter Becker. Sun Blues album would seem to be a groundbreaking distillation of everything that Bates & Becker have ever produced during their 36 year lifespan. Quite simply, Sun Blues is already being acclaimed as the definitive Eyeless In Gaza album."
"Eyeless in Gaza have had several trajectories since their original lo-fi outings in Coventry and Nuneaton in the early 1980s. The duo of Peter Becker and Martyn Bates seemed to be heading towards pop at one point, but en route diverted through textural soundscapes, improvisation, avant-folk, sonic experiment and occult rock; indeed, they still visit these places. Picture the Day is a well-overdue compilation that actually covers all the band’s output, including both the Cherry Red releases from the 1980s and the self-released albums on Ambivalent Scale that have been issued since the 1990s.
The story of course starts with Ambivalent Scale and a 7 inch single, following some cassette releases. The edgy, synth-driven ‘Kodak Ghosts Run Amok’ is tucked away here in the middle of the first CD (unfortunately the superb ‘Feeling’s Mutual’ from the B-side isn’t) which selects from the band’s Cherry Red releases. Listeners are edged into the music with some of the more accessible end of things, a quick drift through some folkier songs and then the gorgeous emotive instrumental ‘Falling Leaf/Fading flower’ before restlessly moving on, from genre to genre, or more often falling between genres.
The second CD features the Ambivalent Scale recordings, and is a similar mix of work. If more recent work isn’t as familiar to me it’s mainly due to growing up and not being able to spend time with new music in the same way that being a teenage and then a student previously facilitated with the original LPs. It’s clear I need to get my act together and have a relisten – this stuff is great.
Together, the two CDs paint a broad, involving picture of this peculiar and engaging band. I like the fact it in no way pretends to be a ‘best of’ or ‘greatest hits’, but simply showcases some of the highlights from their numerous releases. I’d like to have seen the uplifting brassy pop of ‘Sun Bursts In’ here, but otherwise it is a perfect snapshot of one of my favourite bands, lovingly compiled and superbly sequenced.
Eyeless’ new CD, Sun Blues, shares one track, ‘Tamarisk’ with Picture the Day and is a set of new music from the more experimental end of things. Having said that it’s more about mood and texture than the wild excesses of the band’s early output, although ‘Ill-Star’ is intense and loud, with some great honking sax in the pulverising maelstrom of sound. Elsewhere, Martyn Bate’s warm vocals are positioned within rich, dense music that both propels and entwines the songs and the listener. There are also three instrumental vignettes, two back to back in the centre of the album, the third a coda or finale.
It takes some time to truly ‘hear’ the layers and complexities of this album, in the same way it takes time to grasp the width, breath and achievement of Eyeless in Gaza’s musical history. But time spent will be rewarded: Eyeless in Gaza remain one of the most accomplished and interesting bands to have emerged from the music-making underground post punk and postpunk. Here’s to further decades of experiment and beguilement." [Rupert Loydell/ International Times]
"After nearly half a century performing together, Martyn Bates and Peter Becker must seem like a married couple – finishing each other’s sentences, telepathically sensing where their individual muse is leading them and effortlessly hopping on and enjoying the ride. With an extensive catalogue of well over two-dozen releases, they still sound as fresh and invigorating as that ground breaking EP, “Kodak Ghosts Run Amok” that started everything way back in 1980. Looking back to those early releases, the duo suggest their latest is a “distant cousin” to 1982’s classic Pale Hands I Loved So Well. But this is another century, and technological advances have enabled them to use their studio almost as an additional instrument, layering sounds, playing with various improvisational techniques, and offering, perhaps, a third pair of ears and hands to the proceedings.
Yet at its heart is the combination of Bates’ breathy, almost theatrical vocal styling (a little Antony Hegarty, a tad Andy McCluskey) and intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics, revealing numerous layers of meaning and intent as each verse trickles off his soothing, emotional delivery, and Becker’s inquisitive bass lines, harmonic tape manipulations, and various percussive effects. While tracks like ‘Solar Logic’ may initially sound like a simple love ballad, further listening reveals intricate harmonic vocal interweaving, funky, almost African percussives, and the perfect placement of bells and tape manipulations that demonstrate how much the studio has been welcomed in to add lustre to their creative juices.
‘Tamarisk’ envelops the listener in swirling effects and percussive embellishments that wouldn’t be out of place on a Peter Gabriel album, while ‘New Take/Notkar’ offers a harsher splash of ice water in the face, evolving out of an almost industrial percussive backbeat and syncopated guitars that push the listener towards Faust or Nine Inch Nails gut crunchers. But never ones to fall into a rut, the following ‘Longing Song’ is an uplifting, lilting lover’s plea that rises from the ashes of desolation “To bring the morning alive...to be amazed/n you’ll be mine....”
The duo occasionally include improvisational instrumentals in their albums, and the cinematic, provocative and evocative ‘Wind, Sand, Sea & Stars’ pretty much covers the gamut of the external universe – a breakneck journey through land, sea and sky, while ‘Unborn’ traverses the inner universe, wallowing, swallowing mouthfuls of life-giving amniotic fluids on the 9-month journey into a cold, shattering life that no one asked for or had any choice in bringing to fruition.
But before we get too deep, let’s enjoy the sprinkling, sparkling, shimmering flourishes of duelling ukuleles, thumb pianos and glockenspiel on the celestial ‘Juniper’, and the soft, reflective instrumental closer ‘Long Gon Pa’, full of meticulous slide and acoustic guitar and Becker’s fascinating, dreamy devices and tape loops. An imaginative, emotional, headswirling buzz to wrap up another fascinating release from the always reliable duo, who never fail to excite us while eliciting nuances of emotional responses that are all-too-rare in this cookie-cutter, commercial world of Voices, Idols, and other nameless, brainless distractions."
[Jeff Penczak/Ptolemaic Terrascope, November 2016]
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