Eyeless In Gaza
Fabulous Library
(Orchid EYE 001, 1993, Cd)

Review 1

by Jules (MFTEQ 8, September 1993)

Well, where do I start, EIG have always been spotless icons, an emotional experience akin to Vodka yet I now find myself in a turmoil of extreme anti-climax. This release seems devoid of their past guttural renditions, just a hollow shell left decaying where once there was brilliance. This long awaited release is by no means inferior by general standards but by their own standards only a few tracks are really worth mentioning. ‘Feel Like Letting Go’ is a drifting cry with manic keyboard and yearning vocals – with almost funk edge to it! and ‘She Tries on the Jewels’ is gently confusing. For me the bareness is missing, the cold caress of Martyn Bates’ voice seems too controlled and coherent; and tho’ Elizabeth S adds a dreamlike fragility to ‘Stormy Weather’ I find the overdose of female vocals irritating by the end of the album. After such a long absence I hoped they may have progressed but still kept their distinctive framework. Fabulous Library is still a classy piece of work though, subtle and touching in all the right places, pleasant but not the cold slap in the face sensation of their old self.

Review 2

by Rupert Loydell (Stride magazine, Autumn 1995)

Originally, Eyeless In Gaza were just two boys and some cheap instruments, an early 4-track and a (now very collectable) home-produced ep. Then there were a series of albums on Cherry Red Records, and a gradual move towards pop songs, along with an improvement in recording quality and musical ability. But something went wrong, and the band split. Now, however, they’re back – returning with a recording of out-takes from their past, a best-of cd, and now a brand new cd.

Fabulous Library finds Eyeless In Gaza a three piece, the mysterious Elizabeth S. is now a full-time member it seems. What she’s added to the usual eclectic mix of instruments Becker and Bates play is a softer voice, that contrasts strongly with the tough strains of Martyn Bates yowl. This is very carefully recorded and constructed – beautiful songs turn out to consist of broken bottles, guitar feedback, and rythm machines (as well as a few normal things like bass and guitar), somehow woven into a song that entices and delights. It hasn’t got the attack and immediacy I expected from the band, but it’s a real grower: I reckon this one’s made to last, and it’s great to have one of my favourite bands back again.

Review 3

au Richard Robert (Les Inrockuptibles)

La reformation d’Eyeless in Gaza est l’un de ces micro-événements qui ouvrent facilement la voie à quelques excès tranquilles: hommages un peu trop lourds pour les épaules du revenant, couplets navrés sur l’injustice flagrante qui l’aurait contraint à jouer les seconds rôles, le tout assorti d’une dose d’autocomplaisance mortifiée le fantôme de l’admirateur que nous aurons peut-être été venant davantage nous hanter que l’ombre de ce groupe échappé des Enfers. Le parcours délicat et courageux de Martyn Bates et Peter Becker mérite certainement qu’on lui accorde un satisfecit. Mais s’attarder sur les lointaines prouesses d’Eyeless in Gaza ressemble à cette gymnastique de la nostalgie qui conduit parfois certains d’entre nous à se réciter pour le plaisir la composition exacte, remplaçants compris, de l’équipe de, mettons, Noeux-les-Mines saison 79-80. Bref à ce type d’exercices gratuits et rassurants, où la mécanique du souvenir grossit volontiers les émotions passées. Fabulous library le confirme: Eyeless in Gaza est de ces groupes qui, figés dans les mémoires, dégagent de tendres parfums. Mais qu’en 1994 il se prenne à frapper à notre carreau, et nous voilà bien perplexes et fort embarrassés. Partis chasser sur les terres de la dance-music, Bates et Becker, fidèles à leurs pulsations minimalistes, en ont ramené une version exsangue, fluette, qui accompagnera davantage les soirs de solitude que les virées en boîte de nuit. Tout au long de ses dix chansons, Eyeless in Gaza s’interdit donc tout plaisir immédiat, toute envie de distraction. Ce qui signifie grosso modo que l’on s’y ennuie assez souvent et plutôt fermement: il faudrait être sacrément consterné par l’agitation musicale ambiante pour rêver de retourner se pelotonner dans ce giron sans chaleur. Mieux vaut revenir à ce jour de 1986 où Eyeless in Gaza décida de jeter l’éponge en jurant qu’on ne l’y reprendrait plus. En 1986, quand ce groupe en demi-teintes ne méritait déjà ni la sévérité, ni l’adulation.