Eyeless In Gaza
Ink Horn/One Star
(A-Scale ASR 058, December 5th 2019, Cd limited 500/download)
by Mike Barnes (MOJO , April 2020)
Nuneaton’s finest celebrate their 40th anniversary with a cracker.
Eyeless In Gaza have consistently produced such imaginative, high quality music that it’s puzzling so much seems to have flown under the radar. Maybe their almost complete lack of live performance has contributed to their low profile. But the chemistry between multi-instumentalists Pete Becker and Martyn Bates is still sparking, and here, using sound sources ranging from thumb piano to vintage Wasp synths, they produce expansive settings for Bates’s remarkably emotive voice. His lyrics evoke feelings of the mystery that exists at the edge of the everyday – no wonder poet laureate Simon Armitage is a fan. Stylistically, the duo encompass the folk-like invocations of ‘The Two Thorns’ and the sensuous, vintage 4AD-style drift of ‘Comedown’, while ‘Short Lives’ features vocal incantations, synthetic and acoustic drums, synths, harmonica and fuzz bass – a curious combination that works remarkably well. [4 stars]
by Daisuke Suzuki (Siren Records, early January 2020)
INK HORN/ONE STAR by EYELESS IN GAZA (A-Scale) : This album I found very challenging, with each piece varying wildly in style. It seems the album is not one story being divided into 12 chapters, but a collection of 11 sketches of mind. Still, lyrics are very important factor in EIG music, but there is a strong impression that both Martyn Bates and Peter Becker are enjoying the experimental instrumentation, materials, methods, and techniques this time around. This latest EIG album is more relaxed and less self-pursued than the purity of Bates’ recent solo albums, and there’s a marked influence of dub music in some recent EIG music, with several “dubby” tracks figuring on Ink Horn/One Star. Yet, importantly and perhaps unusually, the album overall has a kind of blues feel. EIG music has never narrowed down to particular style, refusing to be categorized, with Becker’s instrumental contribution in Ink Horn/One Star being larger than recent albums. Some tracks have 1980’s eight-track home recording feel and these pieces made me re-cognized that EIG music has “matured” without making a compromise for 40 years. Ink Horn/One Star is not similar to any other album, and I definitely notice the music shows its real colours after several listens. Eyeless in Gaza still do not hesitate to explore something new, they continue to refuse to make compromises. This album surprised me a lot. (Listening through the album while reading the lyrics has changed my impressions on the album completely, and the album wears a cloak of dark night light now. I’m amazed with the power these reflective lyrics have. And I’m amazed with the power of Martyn Bates’ vocal that can set free emotion)
by Lee Henderson (Big Beutiful Noise, December 31, 2019)
It may be a mystery how this pair can continue creating such potent, spacious, unique and eloquent art pop (if the word 'pop' can even be applied anymore), yet they do. With a certain amount of antiquity, invoking characteristics like gold leaf, prized woods, sage wisdom, warmth, and prestige, Eyeless in Gaza have always been able to use their own formula to make timeless music.
Originally meant to be a double set of mini albums linked by a thematic concept, the project became too expensive and thus reworked to become the single disc release 'Ink Horn/One Star'. Martyn Bates, with his one of a kind gentle dreamy poetic voice (plus multiple instruments) and Pete Becker who not only records and engineers all their records, but also plays a great variety of instruments including drums, bass, guitars, ukulele, keyboards, effects, accordion, and programming; have complimented each other for four decades now. Elizabeth S. who has sometimes accompanied them, written lyrics, and done artwork, and videos, added photography and did videos on this release.
It would be legitimate to claim this classic EIG after so many years of brilliance. On 'The Two Thorns' (track #4), Martyn does multi voice with heavenly results. So gorgeous it goes right up there with the very best the group as ever done. The blueprint of unusual uppermost ballad in a dreamy sometimes spectral world, cast against occasional biting rhythmic driven pieces, prove to be pleasing and highly effective. The psalm opposing the clamoring has been a trademark for the duo since day one. It is a celebration of those beyond this earth anthems sung by Bates and equally written/performed by Becker that always take your breath away. The instruct of both aggressive and passive often hold conference and agree with each other, in what in a normal situation, would be erroneous. But Eyeless In Gaza do not use proper etiquette, nor should they. Their library of recordings are definitive collisions of tenderness and violation of rules.
Sometimes ancient bred with modern finesse and considerable virtuosity, the two wizards make music like no one else before or after. 'Soon Will Be The Day' (track #11) stretches out in a spherical arena, exploring and carrying the listener on a short tour. The title track ('One Star') ends this illuminating album. So much to absorb, another generous batch of beautiful compositions and all the cerebral sensations any EIG fan could want. They sound every bit as fresh as they did when they first began. A great place for newcomers to jump in as well. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.