Eyeless In Gaza
Drumming the Beating Heart & Pale Hands I Loved So Well Cd
(Cd MRED 127, March 4 1996, Cd)
by Gil Gershman (Muze)
Martyn Bates and Peter Becker had been recording together for two years when Pale Hands I Loved so Well and Drumming the Beating Heart, respectively the 3rd and 4th Eyeless in Gaza albums, were released. Cherry Red’s reissue compiles the records in reverse-chronological order. A puzzling decision, perhaps, but one that does little to detract from the enduring magic of these two albums. The rare Pale Hands is especially wondrous, witnessing the maturation of EIG’s gift for evocative improvisational impressionism.
Drumming opens with Transcience Blues, a definitive EIG track that summons April showers with throbbing bass, parched organ, and Bates’ impassioned vocals. The organ defines the album, as Bates’ singing complements the instrument’s alternately sinuous (Ill Wind Blows), sweet (One By One), and simmering (Picture the Day) tone. Improvised settings invest the music with a refreshing openness, as though such songs as Veil Like Calm and Lights of April were sprung straight from the heart – not from the studio. Drumming’s lovely second half looks back at the gorgeous sketch-work of Pale Hands. The latter’s scattered strokes of piano, guitar, organ, vocal sighs and chants, bells, sax, glockenspiel, and rough percussion achieve music of rare beauty, imagistic power, and genuine consequence. A masterpiece.