Eyeless in Gaza (band)

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Eyeless in Gaza
Eyeless in Gaza.jpg
Peter Becker of Eyeless in Gaza, 2010
Background information
OriginNuneaton, Warwickshire, England
Genres
Years active1980 (1980)–1987 (1987), 1993 (1993)–present
LabelsCherry Red, Ambivalent Scale
Associated actsIn Embrace, Hungry I, Drift, Twelve Thousand Days
Websitewww.eyelessingaza.com
MembersMartyn Bates
Peter Becker
Elizabeth S. (occasional member)
Past membersJoby Palmer

Eyeless in Gaza 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."[3] Formed in 1980, the group went into hiatus in 1987, re-emerging in 1993.

History[edit]

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).[4] 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.[5] Shortly afterwards they met (after having both been turned down for membership in Nuneaton's other famous band, Bron Area) and together they formed Eyeless in Gaza, both contributing vocals and several instruments.[5][6] The band name is a reference to the novel Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley (which in turn was influenced by John Milton's Samson Agonistes).[7] Bates has said he chose the name "for the sound of it.... I was reading the Huxley book when I met Pete.... It sounded perfectly nice." But Bates has also acknowledged an allusion to the "biblical myth" of Samson, saying, "I feel attracted by religion. I feel that people don’t pay enough attention to the spiritual side of their life; it is a very interesting side of the human psychism and it fascinates me." (Interview in Les Inrockuptibles, number 14, 1988)[8]

After a self-released single, Kodak Ghosts Run Amok, they signed to Cherry Red Records, releasing debut album Photographs as Memories in February 1981.[9] The duo became known for their unconventional instrumentation and arrangements, and for Bates passionate vocals, which at times were howled, whispered, or stammered.[10] Although both members had day jobs they were very productive. Their second album, Caught in Flux, included a bonus five track EP and at the end of 1981 they had completed their third, Pale Hands I Loved So Well, which subsequently was released by the Norwegian label Uniton. In 1981 they also released two singles, Invisibility and Others. In addition to their vinyl releases the duo also performed numerous songs in live concerts which were never released on records.[11]

After two further albums for Cherry Red, Drumming the Beating Heart (1982) and Rust Red September (1983), they added Aztec Camera drummer Dave Ruffy for the more pop-oriented single "Welcome Now" (1985), recruiting former Sinatras/In Embrace drummer Joby Palmer for the next album, Back from the Rains.[12] They toured with Depeche Mode in 1986.[11]

The group then went on hiatus after Becker married and temporarily relocated to Spain, with Bates (who had also gotten married by this point, to longtime girlfriend and occasional band collaborator Elizabeth S.) concentrating on solo work.[13][14][15] They reunited in 1990 to collaborate with Anne Clark on her album The Law Is an Anagram of Wealth.[6] In 1991 Bates formed Hungry I with former Primitives drummer Steve Dullahan.[16][17]

They returned in 1993 (with Elizabeth S. as a full-time member) for the Fabulous Library album and have sporadically released records since, as both a duo and trio. Bates also recorded between 1994 and 1998 with M.J. Harris (Napalm Death/Scorn) under the name Drift, and in the early 2000s with keyboardist Alan Trench in Twelve Thousand Days.[16] He has also continued to release solo material. In 2012, Martyn Bates and Peter Becker appeared on "Right North", the eleventh album, a double digipack, of the international collective 48 Cameras.

In 2016, the 2CD compilation Picture the Day: A Career Retrospective 1981–2016 and Eyeless in Gaza's eightheenth album Sun Blues was released to positive reviews. The latter album was given four stars out of five in Mojo magazine and another critic, reviewing both releases, wrote: "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."[18]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Photographs as Memories (1981), Cherry Red - UK Indie no. 19,[14] CD reissue includes 7 bonus tracks from early singles
  • Caught in Flux (1981), Cherry Red - UK Indie no. 27,[14] original LP included bonus 5 track 12", The Eyes of Beautiful Losers, also included on CD reissue
  • Pale Hands I Loved So Well (1982), Uniton
  • Drumming the Beating Heart (1982), Cherry Red/Virgin - UK Indie no. 26,[14] CD issue (1996) also includes Pale Hands I Loved So Well
  • Rust Red September (1983), Cherry Red - UK Indie no. 5,[14] CD issue (1994) includes 6 bonus tracks
  • Back from the Rains (1986), Cherry Red - CD issue (1989) includes 4 bonus tracks
  • Fabulous Library (1993), Orchid
  • Saw You in Reminding Pictures (1994), Hive-Arc
  • Bitter Apples (1995), Ambivalent Scale
  • All Under the Leaves, the Leaves of Life (1996), Ambivalent Scale
  • Song of the Beautiful Wanton (2000), Soleilmoon
  • Summer Salt & Subway Sun (2006), Ambivalent Scale (first album)
  • Summer Salt & Subway Sun (2008), Beta-lactam Ring (both albums)
  • Answer Song & Dance (2010), Monopol
  • Everyone Feels Like a Stranger (2011), Ambivalent Scale
  • Butterfly Attitude (2012), Downwards
  • Mania Sour (2014), Ambivalent Scale
  • Sun Blues (2016), Ambivalent Scale
Compilations
  • Kodak Ghosts Run Amok-–Chronological Singles, etc., 1980-86 (1987), Cherry Red
  • Transience Blues (1990), Integrity
  • Orange Ice & Wax Crayons (1992), Document - previously unreleased material
  • Voice; The Best of Eyeless in Gaza (1993), Cherry Red
  • Sixth Sense-–The Singles Collection (2002), Cherry Red
  • Home Produce—Country Bizarre (2003), NDN - with Lol Coxhill, expanded version of the 1982 release
  • No Noise - The Very Best of Eyeless in Gaza (2005), Cherry Red
  • Plague of Years (2010), Sub Rosa
  • Orange Ice & Wax Crayons (2012), cat|sun MonotypeRec - previously unreleased material (different from 2002 release)
  • Original Albums Boxset (2014), Cherry Red – 4 CD boxset, first four albums and one disc of 1980–1983 rarities
  • Mythic Language (2015), A-Scale – 3 CD boxset with bonus download album, rarities and unreleased material
  • Picture the Day: A Career Retrospective 1981-2016 (2016), Cherry Red

EPs[edit]

  • Kodak Ghosts Run Amok (1980), Ambivalent Scale
  • Invisibility (1981), Cherry Red
  • Others (1981), Cherry Red
  • Kiss the Rains Goodbye (1986), Cherry Red
  • Streets I Ran (1995), Ambivalent Scale - 5 track companion release to "Saw You In Reminding Pictures"

Singles[edit]

  • "Veil Like Calm" (1982), Cherry Red - UK Indie no. 42[14]
  • "New Risen" (1983), Cherry Red - UK Indie no. 15[14]
  • "Sun Bursts In" (1984), Cherry Red - UK Indie no. 13[14]
  • "Welcome Now" (1985), Cherry Red
  • "Shorepoem" (2009), Monopol

Cassettes[edit]

  • Untitled/Home Produce (1982), Tago Mago - split cassette with Lol Coxhill
  • Flowmotion (1982) – Various artists, including ″Dusky Ruth″ and ″Through Eastfields″ by Eyeless In Gaza
  • Rust Red September / Singles, Rarities and Deletions (1983) Cherry Red – Contains 15 bonus tracks
  • Back from the Rains / Drumming the Beating Heart (1986) Cherry Red – Double Play cassette
  • Kodak Ghosts Run Amok (Chronological Singles etc. 1980-1986) / Caught In Flux (1987) Cherry Red – Double Play cassette

Videos[edit]

  • Street Lamps n' Snow (1994) - 1982 concert in Le Havre
  • Saw You in Reminding Pictures (2005), Cherry Red - DVD reissue of above video plus original promo videos for "Veil Like Calm" and "New Risen" and six tracks recorded live on the Isle of Wight, 2004

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Henderson, Alex. "Eyeless in Gaza | Biography, Albums and Streaming Radio | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Eyeless in Gaza boxset released through Cherryred". 26 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Biography", eyelessingaza.com. Retrieved 25 March 2013
  4. ^ Gimarc, p. 331, 344, 479
  5. ^ a b Gimarc, p. 278, 515
  6. ^ a b Henderson
  7. ^ Strong, p. 322
  8. ^ "Interview with Martyn Bates", Les Inrockuptibles, issue 14, 1988, reproduced at eyelessingaza.com. Retrieved 25 March 2013
  9. ^ Strong, p. 322-3
  10. ^ "MOOD MUSIC". www.eyelessingaza.com.
  11. ^ a b Sonic History Eyeless in Gaza.com
  12. ^ Strong, p. 323
  13. ^ Strong, p. 322-4
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Lazell
  15. ^ Walker, John & Robbins, Ira "Eyeless in Gaza", Trouser Press. Retrieved 25 March 2013
  16. ^ a b Strong, p. 324
  17. ^ Larkin, pp. 155-6
  18. ^ Eyeless in Gaza Sun Blues, Eyeless in Gaza.com

References[edit]

External links[edit]