Eyeless In Gaza
Saw You in Reminding Pictures
(Hive-Arc 015, Limited numbered ed. 1000, 1994, Cd)
by Richard Cook (The Wire, 1995)
Peter Becker and Martyn Bates aren’t doing anything very different from what they were creating on the first Eyeless In Gaza releases, which go back 15 years now. Bates’s unrequited yowl, the echo-chambered guitars, melodicas and keyboards are still there, as well as songs that can, when they get them just right, cut to the quick of English folk rock and give it the newness that eludes neo-traditionalists everywhere. The best example here is the heart-torn ‘Streets I Ran’, which is good enough to stand with anything off Caught In Flux or Bates‘ long-forgotten 10” Letters Written.
They credit these as improvisations in the main, with most of the 18 tracks coming in under four minutes – a good pop-song brevity which refuses to let an idea get kicked to death. They’re only “eclectic” in the way that they seem to use whatever’s lying around in the studio – banjo, pump organ, pixiephone. It’s not Ambient, it’s not mood music, and it’s sure as hell nothing like any art rock I can remember (these guys came along with punk, didn’t they?). The only music I’m sometimes reminded of is some of Steve Tibbett’s worldly jams for ECM, though that is really a universe away.
In their affection for stereoscopic panning and the bathyspheric frequencies they sometimes plumb, Becker and Bates make a music that sounds properly ancient and modern. If you’re looking for doom and gloom that’s cheering and uplifting, this fine paradox should be your poison.
by Rupert Loydell (Stride magazine No. 37, Summer 1995)
Following their resurrection/reformation last year – marked by a wondrous ‘pop’ (in the best possible use of the word) cd – Eyeless In Gaza now offer an instrumental collection: 18 improvisations which prove that they haven’t lost their ear for melancholic, moody soundscapes. Play this in a sunny room and let your mind wander – it’ll conjure all sorts of pictures, and remind you of what music can do when required. Martyn Bates and Peter Becker are masters at understatement, and able to couple the most unconventional instruments into harmony and ambience. Bates’ ethereal wordless vocals add to the general effect as he continues his crusade to create contemporary folk voice. This is no collection of simplistic ambient twoddle, however – there is plenty in the music here to occupy the closest scrutineer. I can think of no other band drawing on so many musical areas – folk, improvised musics, european traditional musics, not to mention their own lo-fi bedroom-taping/punk-ethic past – and who produce such wonderfully moving and original music. Stunning.[Indeed! -ed]