Nov 30, 2016

RhoDeo 1648 Aetix


Today's artists are an English musical duo of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker, based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. They have described their music as "veer[ing] crazily from filmic ambiance to rock and pop, industrial funk to avant-folk styles." Formed in 1980, the group went into hiatus in 1987, re-emerging in 1993.......N'Joy

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Specializing in alternative pop/rock, post-punk, and art rock, the experimental British duo Eyeless in Gaza have enjoyed an enthusiastic cult following since the early 1980s. The music of Eyeless in Gaza has tended to be moody, quirky and atmospheric, drawing on influences that have ranged from Brian Eno, Pink Floyd and Pere Ubu to Roxy Music, David Bowie (especially Bowie's Low/ Heroes/Lodger period of the late 1970s) and the seminal Kraftwerk. Eyeless in Gaza experimented with electronics from the beginning, and they clearly admired Eno's breakthroughs in the ambient electronic realm.

Becker, a laboratory technician, had played in a covers band before buying and experimenting with a Wasp synthesizer (he released a solo cassette-album in June 1980 and a second a year later). Bates, a hospital worker, had previously been in a very early lineup of the unclassifiable Coventry-based band Reluctant Stereotypes, and also released a cassette of experimental electronic music in January 1980. Shortly afterwards they met and got started in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England in 1980, they named their group after British author Aldous Huxley's 1936 novel, which Bates was reading when he met Becker. Both of them have embraced a variety of instruments in Eyeless in Gaza; Bates has played keyboards, organ, guitar and drums (among other instruments), while Becker has contributed guitar (both electric and acoustic), bass, drums, percussion and melodica (in addition to helping with the vocals). Eyeless in Gaza's first mini-album was their 1980 EP Kodak Ghosts Run Amok, which was followed by their Invisibility EP in 1981 and their full-length albums of 1981 Photographs as Memories and Caught in Flux. Eyeless in Gaza recorded frequently in the 1980s, providing full-length albums that included Pale Hands I Loved So Well and Drumming the Beating Heart in 1982, Rust Red September in 1983, and Back from the Rains in 1986.

But the duo went on hiatus in 1987, when Bates opted to pursue some solo projects. The two of them were reunited briefly in 1990 when they worked with poet Anne Clark on her album The Law Is an Anagram of Wealth, but many of Eyeless in Gaza's followers were wondering if Bates and Becker would ever record together again as Eyeless in Gaza. In 1993, however, Bates and Becker were officially reunited as Eyeless in Gaza after a seven-year hiatus--and the duo's recording career was resumed with 1993's Fabulous Library (which started out as a Becker solo project but became a full-fledged Eyeless in Gaza album when Bates came on board). By that time, music that was loosely defined as alternative rock or alternative pop/rock had become rock's dominant direction thanks to the major commercial success of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and others. Instead of being described as music for the select few like it had been in the 1980s, alternative had become downright mainstream--and the return of Eyeless in Gaza was quite appropriate considering that Bates and Becker were embracing alternative long before it was in vogue. After Fabulous Library, Eyeless in Gaza continued to build their catalog with Saw You in Reminding Pictures in 1994, Bitter Apples in 1995, All Under the Leaves, the Leaves of Life in 1996, Song of the Beautiful Wanton in 2000, Home Produce: Country Bizarre in 2003, and Summer Salt/Subway Sun in 2007/2008.  More releases by Eyeless are Answer Song & Dance (2010), Everyone Feels Like A Stranger (2011), Butterfly Attitude (2012). In 2012, Martyn Bates and Peter Becker appeared on "Right North", the eleventh album, a double digipack, of the international collective 48 Cameras, and Mania Sour in 2014.

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Aldous Huxley begins his brilliant novel “Eyeless in Gaza” with the sentence: “The snapshots had become almost as dim as memories” so Photographs as Memories may be considered as a kind of illustration to this great novel.

The days of the garage groups are gone. The bands of today are being born in bedrooms and the latest in the increasing line of DIY knob-doodling duos are Eyeless In Gaza from Leamington Spa. Although “Photographs As Memories” is an awkward album that initially sounds irritating and samey, like a rough assortment of improvisations over very similar backing tracks, further listening reaps rewards, revealing a record made up more of experimental fragments than actual bona-fide songs.

Starting and finishing somewhat arbitrarily, each individual track attempts, with varying degrees of success, to define a different mood, ranging from the malice and menace of “Keepsake” and the boisterous bubblegum bop of “No Noise” to the weird and worrying “In Your Painting” – a sort of “Weaver’s Answer” for the Eighties. Predominantly featuring scratchy, freely-scuttling guitar over basic drumbeats, and atmospheric keyboards and occasionally augmented by unnecessary and incongruous Beefheartean sax, Eyeless’s real strengths and weaknesses lie in their overblown vocals which, while inhibiting literal understanding, instill the proceedings with crucial emotion. A cross between unbridled passion and stylish effect, the voice is by turns crudely convincing and theatrically histrionic, resulting in an album that simultaneously sooths as it unnerves. “Photographs” constantly strives for something special, very seldom fully succeeds but even its many pitfalls and failures make for an interesting, invigorating listen.

Eyeless In Gaza - Photographs As Memories (flac  225mb)

01 Seven Years 2:21
02 Fixation 3:19
03 Looking Daggers 1:51
04 From A To B 2:19
05 Clear Cut Apparently 1:26
06 Speech Rapid Fire 2:54
07 John Of Patmos 4:18
08 Knives Replace Air 6:43
09 Faceless 2:20
10 In Your Painting 2:10
11 A Keepsake 4:35
12 Whitewash 4:22
13 No Noise 5:49

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Whereas previous Eyeless in Gaza material, especially the album Pale Hands I Loved So Well, was somewhat non-linear and improvisational, Drumming the Beating Heart emphasizes another side of the band's identity. Martyn Bates and Peter Becker take a more focused approach on this album, although they are working within a familiar idiom -- drafting melancholy, sometimes unsettling sketches with minimal percussion, introspective lyrics, emotionally charged vocals, and sparse, melodic keyboard and guitar patterns. Notwithstanding the atmospheric instrumental "Dreaming at Rain," which continues in the rambling, experimental vein that was most pronounced on Pale Hands I Loved So Well, this material finds the Nuneaton duo fashioning their stock sonic components into more immediately accessible, conventional song structures, albeit at the avant end of the pop spectrum. This departure is evident on the single "Veil Like Calm" (which also marked the band's first foray into music video), and the stripped-down, staccato guitar funk of "Two." A salient characteristic of this album is its juxtaposition of the fragile and reflective alongside the jagged and fraught, sometimes in the context of the same track: On "Transience Blues," for instance, Bates' urgent, almost pained vocals and a shuddering rhythm are shadowed by haunting keyboards. Drumming the Beating Heart's most compelling tracks are those that underscore the influence of traditional English folk forms on Eyeless in Gaza's work. Although it's rendered in a considerably pared-down manner, that influence manifests itself particularly on "Ill Wind Blows," with its droning keyboard and bare, rattling percussion, and on the short, vocally intense "Picture the Day." Listened to alongside the band's earlier projects, Drumming the Beating Heart reflects Eyeless in Gaza's growing maturity. The newfound cohesion and developing pop sensibility demonstrated here would be more fully realized on Rust Red September the following year.

Having already released a slew of singles and full releases, Eyeless in Gaza found itself already well primed to deliver this striking album, arguably the highlight of the band's earliest days. It's a delicate, focused, and impassioned collection that sounds like little else released in the English-speaking world in 1981. The haunting tones, guitar-produced and otherwise, on songs like "Warm Breath, Soft and Slow" suggest strange, soothing alien messages that aren't that far removed either way from Brian Eno or the Aphex Twin, or even Amnesiac-era Radiohead, say. Bates' singing here is almost totally absent or reduced to near-abstraction, letting the focus fall specifically on the duo's ear for unexpected arrangements and unusual melodies. Touches from clattering, musique concrète percussion on "Sheer Cliffs," swathed in heavy echo to sound even more monumental, and Gregorian chant samples on "Letters to She" years before they would become standard dance/ambient reference points, help flesh out the album's strange power. Hands-down highlights: "Blue Distance," Bates' strong, breathy keen cutting across a layer of instruments, including lush piano that sounds like Harold Budd on speed, "Lies of Love," with a softly growing chime taking the fore along with Bates' singing over murky rumbles, and a wonderful one-two combination at the end. "Light Sliding" features one of Bates' few straightforward vocals over a lovely keyboard figure like a heavenly carnival ride, while "Big Clipper Ship" concludes the album with a combination of acoustic and electric guitar and kalimba that's at once beautiful and chaotic.

Eyeless In Gaza - Drumming The Beating Heart - Pale Hands I Loved So Well (flac  447mb)

Drumming The Beating Heart
01 Transience Blues 4:33
02 Ill-Wind Blows 3:13
03 One By One 3:30
04 Picture The Day 1:45
05 Dreaming At Rain 6:53
06 Two 2:27
07 Veil Like Calm 1:53
08 Throw A Shadow 2:02
09 Pencil Sketch 2:24
10 At Arms Length 2:02
11 Lights Of April 2:21
12 Before You Go 2:25

Pale Hands I Loved So Well
13 Tall And White Nettles 1:53
14 Warm Breath, Soft And Slow 3:33
15 Blue Distance 3:53
16 Sheer Cliffs 2:20
17 Falling Leaf / Fading Flower: Goodbye To Summer 5:10
18 Lies Of Love 3:03
19 To Ellen 1:21
20 Pale Saints 5:17
21 Letters To She 6:24
22 Light Sliding 3:52
23 Big Clipper Ship 3:22

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Officially the band's fifth full vinyl release, Rust Red September finds the group further moving away from the brusquer hooks of its earliest days to a calmer reflectiveness. If anything, the duo also achieved a light, airy pop feeling with this album, slotting it alongside more successful sounds from the U.K. in the mid-'80s without actually breaking through or, on a happier thought, pandering to achieve such success. This newer approach comes courtesy of Bates' singing voice, here sweetly overdubbed at many points with butter-melting-in-mouth effect -- indeed, such is the purity he reaches here it almost sounds like he should be in a Scandinavian jangle pop act! "New Risen," the single from the album, balances both a catchy melody and a curious, unexpected keyboard/rhythm arrangement -- the closest parallel might be to the similarly not-quite-straightforward work of the Associates, if on a generally calmer level. The elegant arrangements he and Becker create truly, completely shimmer with a strange, sparkling power, light without ever sounding either airily new age or anything remote easy listening. Consider Bates' simple but effective electric guitar work on "Pearl and Pale," which had to have been an influence on any number of later acts on the Projekt record label, heartbreaking chimes, and atmospherics while avoiding simply turning on the effects pedals. Becker's abilities with rhythm work serve the duo quite well -- what initially seems like an intriguing-enough off-time drum pattern on "Leaves Are Dancing" takes a further subtle turn with the introduction of another percussion line on the chorus, steering away from 4/4 into differing realms. His many other understated touches throughout -- the accordion wails on "No Perfect Stranger," the beautiful synth backing on "Bright Play of Eyes" -- help further the beauty of this striking album. The CD reissue of Rust Red September contains some excellent bonuses for the appreciative fan. Three, "To Steven," "Sun-Like-Gold," and "To Elizabeth S.," originally from the Myths. Instructions. I compilation on Sub Rosa, are rougher, murkier instrumentals with an appropriately shady appeal. The remaining three are the B-sides from the Sun Bursts In EP that followed the album, resulting in a near comprehensive picture of the band's work at that time.

Eyeless In Gaza - Rust Red September (flac 350mb)

01 Changing Stations 2:26
02 Pearl And Pale 3:32
03 New Risen 2:50
04 September Hills 3:55
05 Taking Steps 3:31
06 Only Whispers 4:38
07 Leaves Are Dancing 3:14
08 No Perfect Stranger 4:50
09 Corner Of Dusk 3:54
10 Bright Play Of Eyes 3:28
11 Stealing Autumn 4:39
12 To Steven 4:05
13 Sun-Like-Gold 3:14
14 To Elizabeth S. 4:30
15 Lilt Of Music 1:38
16 Inky Blue Sky 3:39
17 Tell 2:19

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The subtitle "Chronological Singles, Etc., 1980-86" tell the whole story; Kodak Ghosts Run Amok covers the best work of Eyeless in Gaza's first incarnation. Taking its title from the group's debut 1980 EP, the album runs through the A-sides of all of their singles, adding a few key album tracks to flesh out the picture of the early days. Starting from their rather minimalist and icy early work, the first few songs progress Martyn Bates and Peter Becker's slow transformation from artsy students into purveyors of a peculiar brand of pop music that's both sonically inviting and coolly distanced. By the time side one ends with the surprise chart hit "Veil Like Calm," the change is complete; the first half of side two is a run of singles as good as anything the U.K. indie scene offered up in 1983 and 1984, with Bates' vocals more subtle and controlled than the anguished wailing that tends to predominate on the early songs, and Becker's musical backing adding gentle acoustic guitars and sunny harmonies to the synthesizers. "New Risen" and "Sun Bursts In" are both classics of their time and place. Frankly, though, by the end of the album, the duo has listed too far in the chart-pleasing direction; "New Love Here" and "Back From the Rains" are nearly as empty and glossy as Wham!'s contemporaneous singles, and a whole lot less memorable.

Eyeless In Gaza - Kodak Ghosts Run Amok (flac 271mb)

01 Kodak Ghosts Run Amok 2:24
02 Invisibility 2:39
03 No Noise 2:50
04 Others 2:53
05 Pencil Sketch 2:22
06 Veil Like Calm 1:51
07 Bright Play Of Eyes 3:23
08 New Risen 2:47
09 No Perfect Stranger 4:46
10 Sun Bursts In 3:46
11 Welcome Now 3:35
12 New Love Here 3:44
13 Back From The Rains 3:15

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previously, wavetrain-3rd-wagon.html

Eyeless In Gaza - Caught In Flux   (flac  337mb)

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Anonymous said...




Lisa said...

Fantastic post, thank you very much!

Matt said...

One of my very favorite projects ever. Don't know of anything else that sounds like what Martyn & Peter did here. Wonderful.

Matt said...

Do you have 'Back From The Rains' btw?

Rho said...

Sorry Matt i would have posted 'Back From The Rains' if i had it.

Matt said...

I've got all the early stuff, up to BFTR on vinyl, which received heavy rotation at the time. I remember having BFTR way back when and not really liking it, it appears to have been purged from my collection. Was just curious to see if my opinion had changed over the years but after playing the last few cuts from Kodak I think I can live without it.

Thanks again for a great blog.

ianbuckers said...

Kodak Ghosts Run Amok flac upload has been removed Rho. Could you put it back up on another site? Big File is a nightmare to download from these days. Everytime you visit it tries to put spyware on your computer. It makes you wait 180 seconds (Used to be just 90) and then it is hit and miss whetehr it will give you the link. In this case I got the link after about 20 attempts and 1 reboot...only for it to tell me the file was no longer available! :(

Rho said...

Hello Ian i just checked the link and its available as for spyware i only get one pop-up and its easily closed as for re trying the easiest way is to clear your cookies, you should do that regularly anyway. An excellent tool for that is CCleaner freeware version. Meanwhile i'm fazing out Bigfile

yuttre said...

please, can you re-up Eyeless In Gaza - Kodak Ghosts Run Amok....Thank You in advance

Unknown said...

please reup Eyeless In Gaza - Rust Red September in flac

Rho said...

Im sorry Klea but how often must i spell out i don't re-up within 12 months and this post was made 10 months ago.

Anonymous said...

please reup Eyeless In Gaza

Matt said...

Couple of things I think you'll N'Joy -thanks

Rho said...

Thanks Matt

Anonymous said...

Hallo, can you please re-upload Eyeless In Gaza - Rust Red September ?
Thanks a lot. JB