An ear piercing, alarm-clock-sound makes you listen up. There is no chance to avoid it. Beep, beep, beep, beep! The sound goes on relentlessly. Meanwhile a deep, riddim-like bassline brings some focus and a rhythm-guitar tries to carve out the music that waits to shine through the mayhem.
And then the voice comes in: Like a demented choir-boy, torn between poetic purity and furious anger, it shouts, sings and wails against this wall of sound with manic energy. Kodak Ghosts Run Amok!
Eyeless In Gaza were at the forefront of a new wave of british "post-punk"-bands who were still in school when punk happened. Their first single "Kodak Ghosts Run Amok" was an unconventional wake-up call and a big "fuck-you" against punk, which mostly turned into stale rock by the early 1980s.
With their 1982 release of "Drumming the beating heart", the duo of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker had formed their sound to a minimal, pastoral, quasi-folk with an experimental attitude.
Bates´ voice and his delivery is at times quite close to Billie MacKenzie, but EIG never intended to go all out with polished and sparkling pop-productions.
Their sound, despite all the melodic richness and overflowing emotions, was always sparse, raw and overwhelmingly powerful. It is no secret that Björk was clearly influenced by the EIG-Sound.
Often seen as the "perfect 4-AD band" (they never released anything on the label), Eyeless in Gaza managed to create a sound that was totally their own. At times annoying and too obscure, they should be applauded for their vision and talent. Posing in churches, playing church organ and exploring religious influences, led to filing the band in the gothic-drawer. A drawer which is bursting at the seems with bands that don´t belong there.
After 1987, Becker and Bates put the band on hold and released several solo albums and took part in multiple collaborations. Since reforming in the 90s they kept on recording and releasing albums on a sporadic scale.
In 2006 they released "Summer Salt and Subway Sun", which is easily one of their best efforts since "Drumming the beating heart" and the fan-favourite "Pale hands I loved so well". Exploring the "idea of cities as new, blank texts – contrasted with the kind of sense of alienation and loss evoked in such works as J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island.” (Martyn Bates)
There was always a strong ballardian sub-context in the work of Eyeless in Gaza and I think it is great that they are further exploring these ideas and that they are still capable of creating exciting and fresh music.
The completed "Summer Salt & Subway Sun" works as a kind of survival or synthesis of these ideas – and also as an illustration of Eyeless In Gaza as ‘studio animal’, contrasted with their (newly re-discovered) life as a regularly gigging band.
EIG will perform in Berlin on the first of November and I could kick myself that I am out of town on this day.
Meanwhile their former label "Cherry Red" finally released the EIG back-catalogue on remastered CDs.
In July, the band re-visited the "Summer Salt and Subway Sun"- album with the release of a limited 3-CD box, which contains 2 new Cds.
Right now, the Cds are also available via their
website, which is highly recommended.